Professional ethics in searching of databases and search engines: problems, issues, solutions
Saracevic, Tefko, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, 4 Huntington Street NJ 088901 New Brunswick (EstadosUnidos), email@example.com.
Resumen Se proporciona una revisión de los problemas éticos relacionados con la búsqueda profesional de información tanto desde un punto de visto histórico como actual. Se formulan las cuestiones éticas básicas a las que se enfrentan los profesionales de la recuperación de la información. Se sugiere que el conjunto de recomendaciones éticas para búsquedas deinformación en línea que se elaboraron hace un cuarto de siglo pueden ser usadas, con las necesarias actualizaciones, también en el presente. A partir de ellas, se presenta y desarrolla un conjunto de recomendaciones éticas para los recuperadores de información y los procesos de búsqueda. Las conclusiones enfatizan la importancia de las consideraciones éticas en la búsqueda. Palabras clave: Ética.Recuperación de información. Búsqueda de información.
Abstract The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of ethical concerns related to professional information searching from both a historical and contemporary point of view. Basic ethical questions and issues for searchers are formulated. A suggestion is made that a set of ethical guidelines for online searchers formulated a quartercentury ago could be used, with some revision, even today. It is also suggested that “first do no harm” be the primary ethical principle for searchers. Following this a number of ethical guidelines for searchers and searching are formulated. Conclusions stress the importance of ethical consideration in searching. Keywords: Etics. Information retrieval. Information search.
Tostart with a conclusion from a paper by Froelich (2004) that is still valid today: “Information ethics is a dynamic and evolving field, flowing from various disciplines and perspectives and cultures, critical in these times of intercultural exchange and dialog.” While Froelich talked about a broader concern of information ethics in general, the conclusion is valid as well for ethics involved insearching, since it falls under the same broad umbrella of information ethics. And it is still critical, if not even more so. Searching became ubiquitous. As searching tools and resources became universal, free and easy to use, it seems that just about everybody in the world who has Internet access also searches for information. Everybody is a searcher. In this environment the role of professionalsearchers has changed. It still encompasses searching on behalf of others, but it also needs to incorporate mastery of an ever growing number of diversified information resources, most Web based. However, searching is now also extended to incorpora-
te a strong and wide educational component in teaching and guiding searching of their public and constituencies. Professional searchers search,but they also evaluate and assemble resources to enable effective searching by others, and in addition they teach, guide, instruct, train, lecture, and educate about searching. Searchers are not only searchers; they are also enablers, trainers, and educators. All these activities, of course, raise ethical issues and questions. While recognizing these additional activities —each with ethicalconcerns— only ethics as related to searching are discussed here. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of ethical concerns related to professional information searching from both a historical and contemporary point of view. The orientation of the paper is toward professional searching; general aspects of searching by the public are not discussed. They create their own ethical concerns....