Corpus research, ethical issues

Using existing corpora for research

If your research project involves using existing corpora, you typically do not need to apply for ethical approval. However there are several ethical issues which researchers should be aware of when using corpus data from other sources.

If you are using any material that initially involved live participants, you must treat that material in an ethical manner. For example:

  • If the data are in the public domain, you must abide by any requirements stated by the corpus provider, including with respect to anonymity, or any other conditions on use.
  • If the data are not in the public domain, you must ensure that your use of the data conform to any requirements stated by the corpus provider. For example, the data must not be shared in any unauthorized manner (e.g., posted online).
  • In either case, if there is reason to suspect that the people who initially provided the data were not aware that it would be used for research purposes, you should carefully consider the ethical implications of your research, including whether you should obtain informed consent. See the page on use of social media data if you are using sources like Facebook or Twitter.

If you wish to have your project undergo ethical review to be sure that any ethical concerns are adequately dealt with, please submit an application using the PPLS Ethics Submission Portal.

If your funder requires you to obtain evidence of ethical approval, please submit an application using the PPLS Ethics Submission Portal.