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Internet Based Social Research

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Title: Student Seminar Presentations Author: COLLEGE OF ST MARK & ST JOHN Last modified by: mwilliams Created Date: 11/22/2004 3:08:08 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Internet Based Social Research


1
Internet Based Social Research
2
Introduction
  • Technology and Social Research
  • The Internet Social Research
  • Some Key Issues
  • Integration, adaptation or innovation?
  • Conclusion(s)

3
Technology Social Research
  • Technological innovation has always been a
    double-edged sword in social research (Seidel
    1993).
  • Impact of new technologies in relation to social
    scientific research.
  • Change the craft of social research in
    unanticipated ways.

4
Technology Social Research
  • Extent to which research process and data
    analysis will be shaped by the technology.
  • Debates concerning the ways in which technology
    can either enhance / restrict the research.
  • How will technology affect the theories and
    methods of social research?

5
Technology Social Research
  • Camera
  • Typewriter
  • Telephone
  • Audio-tape
  • Video camcorder
  • Computing / software packages
  • The Internet

6
Key Issues The Internet
  • Volume of data sacrifice resolution for scope.
  • Alter the relationship between the researcher and
    the data.
  • Distancing of the researcher from the data
  • Validity / reliability / authenticity of research
  • Reconfigure the relationship between the
    researcher and researched.
  • Quick solutions / premature theoretical closure.

7
The Internet Social Research
  • Accessible, economical and efficient instrument
    of data collection (Jensen 2000)
  • Beneficial - quantitative qualitative research.
  • Means of finding populations and forming
    connections.
  • Scope for cross-cultural research.
  • Scope for collecting large volumes of data in a
    relatively short period of time.

8
The Internet Social Research
  • Potentially large / diverse pool of respondents /
    participants.
  • Access small-scale communities of interest.
    Hidden population samples.
  • Barriers / boundaries distance / time / space
    place can be traversed.
  • Facilitates a form of inquiry which is
    non-linear and multi-focal (Ferguson 2004).
  • Relatively cost-effective - inexpensive.

9
  • whilst it is important that the potential of the
    Internet is grasped it is equally important that
    its limitations on research are understood
    (Coomber 1997)
  • enthusiasm tempered with caution (Hine 2004)
  • Theoretical, methodological and ethical issues
    involved

10
Limitations
  • One of the most challenging limitations is the
    changing nature of the internet (Sheehan Hoy
    2004).
  • Unique mixture of the ephemeral and the
    permanent (Schneider Foot 2004)
  • A further challenge for social science is the
    paradox that the Internet can encourage greater
    honesty, openness and trust while also creating
    unparalleled opportunities for deception,
    misrepresentation and cheating (Joinson 2005)

11
Limitations
  • Given the indirect, non-proximal nature of
    Internet interactions, there is more scope for
    participants to deceive the researcher about
    factors such as their age, sex, nationality and
    so on (Hewson et al 2003)
  • Reduced levels of researcher control - over
    participants, materials, procedures and data.
  • Complexity / power of web technology.
  • Software / hardware variations technological
    expertise of researcher / participants.
  • Sampling bias the Internet user population.

12
The Internet Social Research
  • traditional research methodologies are wedded to
    a conception of a relatively fixed object of
    studythe underlying presumption is that the
    subject matter will remain relatively stable and
    the research will retain relevance (Gergen
    Gergen2003)
  • Internet reconfiguring the idea of research
    including the identities of the researcher,
    researched and audience.

13
Adaptation, Integration or Innovation?
  • Internet World Wide Web distinctive technical
    features (Wakeford 2000)
  • Raises important issues for direction / future of
    social research.
  • Adapting existing methodologies / tools to a new
    medium?
  • Integration of the Internet into traditional
    frameworks?
  • Innovation creating new methodologies?

14
Conclusion(s)
  • Introduction of new technology into the research
    process can have both positive and negative
    influences.
  • Simple transference of existing methodological
    tools and frameworks to an on-line setting is
    extremely problematic (Illingworth 2001)
  • In certain respects, methodological / theoretical
    issues raised by the Internet and World Wide Web
    are not new.

15
Conclusion(s)
  • Certain methodological issues are the same in
    the case of Internet research as in other modes
    of research (Hewson et al 2003)
  • the new technology offers a spate of problems
    layered over the old (Smith 1997).

16
Conclusion(s)
  • Not a one-stop solution for social research
    (Whittaker 2004)
  • Considered solution (Hine 2004)

17
Conclusion(s)
  • Rather than writing off the Internet as a
    serious research tool it is necessary to
    develop...research skills which address the
    challenges which the internet presents
    (ODochartaigh 2003)
  • Reinforcing traditional research values like
    scepticism, flexibility rigour.
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