Impact of Ubiquitous Digital Technologies and Evolving Societal Norms on Research Ethics

Wednesday, February 22, 2023  | 11 AM–5 :30PM ET


Free Workshop |  Funded by the National Science Foundation

Impact of Ubiquitous Digital Technologies on Research Ethics

Impact of Ubiquitous Digital Technologies on Research Ethics

Researchers in a variety of fields, including the biomedical, behavioral, cognitive, educational, and social sciences, have leveraged digital technologies to recruit human participants, to implement interventions, collect and analyze data, and to disseminate findings, a trend that has been amplified during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The scale at and the manner in which information from emerging digital technology can be collected and analyzed for research differ greatly from traditional in-person laboratory experiments. Artificial intelligence is now commonly embedded within smartphone applications. Algorithms and models continuously evolve with the personal information that people provide through their use of digital technologies. The changing landscape in which personal information is collected, analyzed, and shared and people’s changing perceptions regarding personal information raise questions about the suitability of the prevailing ethical framework for research with human participants.


The goal of this virtual workshop is to stimulate thoughtful discussion on the following fundamental research questions:

  1. How do current ethical, legal/regulatory, or social issues, either in degree or kind, address (or not address) the use of digital technologies in human research?;
  2. How have people’s perceptions on sharing personal information changed with the ubiquitous use of digital technologies, and how will it affect the use of digital technology in human research?
  3. How has the ubiquitous use of algorithms—the use of artificial intelligence—in everyday digital technologies, impacted ethical dimensions of human research?
  4. What is the proper ethical framework for addressing uses of digital technologies when conducting research with human participants with a variety of technology literacy and privacy perceptions?


11:00 AM                        Opening Remarks

11:15 AM–2:15 PM     Session I

                                                Moderator:  Dena Plemmons

11:15 AM–12:00 PM    Plenary I

  • Speaker:  Desmond Patton, The Promise and Challenge of using AI for Gun Violence Prevention 

12:00 PM–12:15 PM          Q&A

12:15 PM–1:15 PM      

  • Speaker:  Barbara Barry, Ethical issues in AI-enabled Clinical Decision Support Systems
  • Speaker:  Joshua August Skorburg, Is AI compatible with Participatory Research? 

1:15 PM–1:45 PM        Breakout Group Discussion

1:45 PM–1:55 PM        Break

1:55 PM–2:10 PM        Q & A

2:15 PM– 5:15 PM      Session II

                                                    Moderator:  Elisa A. Hurley

2:15 PM–3:00 PM       Plenary II

  • Speaker:  Mary Gray

3:00 PM–3:15 PM       Q & A

3:15 PM–4:25 PM       Break

4:25 PM–4:55 PM      

  • Speaker: Jonathan Beever, Ethical Risks of Bad Actors in Digital Policymaking: Potential Impacts on Research
  • Speaker: Jonathan Herrington, The Ethical Imperative and Challenges of Working with Diverse Populations in Digital Research 

​4:25 PM–4:55 PM      Breakout Group Discussion

4:55 PM–5:10 PM      Q & A

5:10 PM–5:15 PM      Closing Remarks

Who Should Attend

Who Should Attend

This workshop is designed for a broad audience and will offer an opportunity for researchers and students from a variety of fields including biomedical, behavioral, social, engineering, information and computer sciences, institutional review board (IRB) members and staff, as well as interested members of the public.

The workshop will involve hands-on, active learning opportunities exploring various ethical frameworks for navigating research in the digital age. Familiarity with the Belmont Principles underlying current regulations and policies for research with human subjects is recommended.

Continuing Education
Webinar participants holding the Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) credential may apply 5.5 continuing education credits towards CIP recertification. Learn More

 Note that due to the interactive nature of this workshop, registration will be capped at 500 participants.

Cost: Free


Barbara A. Barry

Barbara A. Barry

Mayo Clinic


Jonathan Beever, PhD

Jonathan Beever, PhD

University of Central Florida


Mary L. Gray, PhD

Mary L. Gray, PhD

Microsoft Research; Harvard University, Indiana University

Jon Herington

Jon Herington

University of Rochester

Desmond Upton Patton

Desmond Upton Patton

University of Pennsylvania

Joshua August Skorburg

Joshua August Skorburg

University of Guelph

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)