Best Practices for Ethical Conduct of Misinformation Research: A Scoping Review and Critical Commentary

Ciara M. Greene, Constance De Saint Laurent, Gillian Murphy, Toby Prike, Karen Hegarty, Ullrich K.H. Ecker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Misinformation can have noxious impacts on cognition, fostering the formation of false beliefs, retroactively distorting memory for events, and influencing reasoning and decision-making even after it has been credibly corrected. Researchers investigating the impacts of real-world misinformation are therefore faced with an ethical issue: they must consider the immediate and long-term consequences of exposing participants to false claims. In this paper, we first present an overview of the ethical risks associated with real-world misinformation. We then report results from a scoping review of ethical practices in misinformation research. We investigated (1) the extent to which researchers report the details of their ethical practices, including issues of informed consent and debriefing, and (2) the specific steps that researchers report taking to protect participants from the consequences of misinformation exposure. We found that fewer than 30% of misinformation papers report any debriefing, and almost no authors assessed the effectiveness of their debriefing procedure. Building on the findings from this review, we evaluate the balance of risk versus reward currently operating in this field and propose a set of guidelines for best practices. Our ultimate goal is to allow researchers the freedom to investigate questions of considerable scientific and societal impact while meeting their ethical obligations to participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-150
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number3
Early online date13 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


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