JMIR research protocols | VOL. 11
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Preventing and Protecting Against Internet Research Fraud in Anonymous Web-Based Research: Protocol for the Development and Implementation of an Anonymous Web-Based Data Integrity Plan.

Publication Date Sep 12, 2022

Abstract

Data integrity is a priority in any internet research study; it should be maintained to protect the safety and privacy of human participants and to maintain the validity and reliability of research findings. However, one noteworthy risk of web-based research is fraudulent respondent activity. When investigators must utilize anonymous web-based recruitment techniques to reach hidden and expanded populations, steps should be taken to safeguard the integrity of data collected. The purpose of this paper is to present a novel protocol in the form of an anonymous web-based research data integrity plan (DIP) protocol that outlines steps for securing data integrity while conducting anonymous web-based data collection. In this paper, we discuss a protocol regarding the development and implementation of a specific DIP in response to fraudulent activity in an original large-scale mixed methods study launched in April 2021. Four primary steps, each with a set of affiliated procedures, are presented: (1) defining the risks, (2) planning research protocols, (3) securing data collection and recruitment, and (4) determining enrollment. Following the relaunch of a large-scale original study and implementation of the DIP protocol, preliminary analyses demonstrated no fraudulent activity. A pre-post analysis is underway to evaluate the effectiveness of the DIP strategies from February 2022 through May 2023. Implementing the DIP protocol could save valuable research time, provides a process to examine data critically, and enables the contributi...

Concepts

Fraudulent Activity Reliability Of Research Findings Anonymous Data Anonymous Research Data Integrity Pre-post Analysis Web-based Research Internet Research Primary Steps Data Collection

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