When using observational, and other, methodologies, researchers should be aware of whether members of the public who are not direct participants in the research might also be observed, and whether their data might be recorded as a consequence of their interaction with the subjects of research.
Consideration should be given to how to appropriately minimise and anonymise any such observation or recording and to whether the observation takes place within a public or private sphere. The observation of interactions occurring within a private sphere should be subject to greater interrogation than those occurring within a clearly public sphere.
Public interactions might include published letters to newspapers, or comments posted in a public internet chat forum or blog.
Private interactions might include those within a defined private physical space (such as a home or office) and comments posted on an area of the internet which is password protected – although judgement will need to be exercised upon areas which are simply restricted by the levy of a fee or subscription.