Methods and Ethics in Virtual World Research: The Second Life Experience

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Research in virtual worlds focuses on one of several points of contact. Research has been conducted on the people who use virtual worlds. It has been conducted on the means of entering and using virtual worlds such as the viewer or related software. It has also been done on the activities that are possible within a virtual world, especially from an educational stand-point. Finally, research has been conducted on the behaviour of people in virtual worlds. On this last point, works such as Boellstorff’s anthropological treatise on Second LifeTM and Meadows’ personal immersion in Second Life open a discussion of what it means to be a resident of a virtual world at the same time as being a researcher of that world. How do we manage boundaries and roles? How do we enact the necessary research ethics? What do we study, how and why? This contribution examines research methods in virtual worlds, with an emphasis on those that examine human/avatar behaviour in these spaces. The discussion includes issues of communicating research ethics and post-research interaction with participants.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRiding the Hype Cycle
Subtitle of host publicationThe Resurgence of Virtual Worlds
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781848882348
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan. 2019


  • Research
  • Second Life
  • ethics
  • ethnography
  • immersion
  • method
  • virtual world


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