Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Exploring Information Ethics: A Metadata Analytics Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Exploring Information Ethics: A Metadata Analytics Approach

Article excerpt

Information ethics is a subject area that has recently attracted substantial attention from various domains and disciplines. Researchers and scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds have discussed this topic. The International Review of Information Ethics (2005) published by the International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE) lists the following areas that are concerned with information ethics:

* Internet;

* computer science; and

* library and information science

Capurro (2005) believes that information ethics deals particularly with ethical questions in

* the Internet (cyberethics, information ethics in a narrower sense);

* computer science (computer ethics);

* the biological and medical sciences (bioinformation ethics);

* the mass media (media ethics);

* the library and information science field (library ethics); and

* the business field (business information ethics) [p. 7].

As noted by Froehlich (2004), information ethics has evolved over the years into a multi-threaded phenomenon, stimulated in part by the convergence of many disciplines on issues associated with the Internet. It can now be seen as a confluence of the ethical concerns of

* media;

* journalism;

* library and information science;

* computer ethics (including cyberethics);

* management information systems;

* business; and

* Internet.

The above descriptions of the scope of information ethics allude to the multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary nature of the topic and the ways in which it is viewed by researchers from different domains and disciplines. It appears that conducting a study to examine the scope and variety of topics related to information ethics is particularly timely. Floridi (2005) notes that the term information ethics has come to mean different things to scholars from various disciplines, including computer ethics, business ethics, medical ethics, computer science, the philosophy of information, social epistemology and library and information science. This, he argues, has resulted in confusion about the nature and scope of information ethics. He further argues that a field-dependent, applied and professional ethics approach to information ethics is problematic and that a macro-ethical approach should be adopted.

Ocholla, Onyancha, and Britz (20i0) explored the concept information ethics using the most common co-occurring terms in the information ethics literature as indexed in nine databases. They analyzed the subject terms in more than i,000 bibliographic records. They found that the most common term was ethics with 6i3 hits in the compound subject terms, followed by information, legislation, jurisprudence, research, access, technology, standards, health, computer, education, and library. Others that produced a high number of hits included Internet, economics, libraries, and privacy. While this study provides insight into the subject terms in the bibliographic records on information ethics, its aim was not to identify disciplines and domains that are concerned with information ethics.

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the history, volume, variety, and topics of publications on information ethics as reflected in the Scopus multi-disciplinary database of article publications. To achieve this, metadata records for the article publications on information ethics will provide a representative source of information. Metadata records consist of titles, authors, publication dates, abstracts, author-provided keywords, index terms, authors' affiliations, and countries. These metadata elements are particularly useful for trend and topic analysis. The study also aims to visually demonstrate the key information ethics themes, topics, as well as the authors and organizations that have contributed to the research and developments in this area. The key questions that this study addresses are:

* what are the publication trends for articles on information ethics? …

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