Exploring online research methods - Incorporating TRI-ORM

Online course: Programme

[Skip instructions]

[i] Click on the headings to open them. They will open on this page. Open the following link for further information about these headings if required.

Your browser does not support these headings. To ensure that the contents remain accessible, they have been automatically opened so that all the information on the page is displayed.

However, to take advantage of the headings and to ensure that the layout and design of this site are displayed correctly, you are recommended to upgrade to a current version of one of the following standards compliant browsers:

Open/close headingIntroduction

This page provides an archive of the tasks and activities carried out on the online courses each week. On this page they are presented in the same way as experienced by course participants. Further information and suggestions about how tutors can use these online tasks and activities can be found on the e-tivities page within the 'Tutor resources' area.

If you are using the site for self study, please refer to the 'Self study' pages. Resources and activities from the online courses have been added to this section.

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 1: Getting started and thinking about our online personas

Welcome to the course. This week we will be getting you started, introducing you to some of the technologies that we are going to be using on the course and thinking about our online personas.

Before this week's synchronous activity

Familiarise yourself with the Exploring Online Research Methods Website. You may also want to start looking at some of the items on the reading list.

This week's synchronous activity

We will be holding real-time discussions as part of this course. The first will be an e-tivity entitled 'Online Pentathlon' which aims to give you experience of synchronous online discussions.

After this week's synchronous activity

Add a blog post introducing yourself and reflecting on the first week's E-tivity.
You may wish to add a picture to your profile.

Reading

For background information about the online pedagogy that we are using on the course you may want to look at:

Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: a key to active online learning.  Routledge, London.

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 2: Discussion about online persona, who are you online and what impact does this have on your research?

This week we will be considering what the implications of our own and others online personas and identities have for conducting research online.

Before this week's synchronous activity

Make sure that you have completed week 1's e-tivities. In particularly you should make sure that you have made a post on the blog introducing yourself.
Read the Gross and Acquisti (2005) paper, 'Information Revelation and Privacy in Online Social Networks'. You may also be interested to look through the course reading list.
Complete the Social Network Software, Privacy and Identity e-tivity on your blog.

This week's synchronous activity

Like last week we will be using Connect to hold the real-time discussions. We will be discussing the role of the researcher in online research and thinking about how you connect with participants, build rapport and where appropriate boundaries are. Questions you might want to think about are:

  • How present are you on the internet. Is your identity available to anyone with access to Google?
  • Why do people engage with online communities and how do they present themselves.
  • What are the implications for researchers of the privacy issues discussed by Gross and Acuisti?
  • How are researchers perceived by online communities?


After this week's synchronous activity

Have a look at Exploring online research methods in a virtual training environment (2006), Privacy including the public private debate.

Also try and read some other articles from this weeks suggested reading.

Reading

Ethics module - Section on Privacy including the public private debate

Chen, S. S. , Hall, G. J. and Johns, M. D. (2004) Research paparazzi in cyberspace: The voices of the researched, in Johns, M. D., Chen, S. S. and Hall, G. J. (Eds.) (2004) Online Social Research: Methods, Issues, and Ethics. New York. Peter Lang. pp.157-175.

Gross, R. and Acquisti, A. (2005) Information Revelation and Privacy in Online Social Networks (The Facebook case). Pre-proceedings version. ACM Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society (WPES).
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~acquisti/papers/ privacy-facebook-gross-acquisti.pdf.

Hargittai, E. (2007) Whose space? Differences among users and non-users of social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, 1, article 14.
[External Link - opens in a new window]http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/hargittai.html

Kapoor, N., Konstan, J., and Terveen, L. (2005). How Peer Photos Influence Member Participation in Online Communities. Proceedings of ACM CHI 2005, April 2–7, 2005, Portland, Oregon, USA.
[External Link - opens in a new window]http://www.grouplens.org/papers/pdf/lbr-590-kapoor.pdf

Mann, C. and Stewart, F. (2000) Internet Communication and Qualitative Research. London. Sage.

Paccagnella, L. (1997) Getting the seat of your pants dirty: Strategies for ethnographic research on virtual communities, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 3, 1.
[External Link - opens in a new window]http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol3/issue1/paccagnella.html

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 3: Evaluating when online research methods are appropriate? What methods do you use?

This week we will be considering when it might be appropriate to conduct research using online research methods and what the advantages and disadvantages of different types of online methods are.

Before this week's synchronous activity

Ensure that you have updated your blog with a post about last week's e-tivity on online personas.

Choose a case study and consider why the researcher chose the online methodology they used and how successful it was in addressing their research question.

This week's synchronous activity

As in the previous two weeks we will be using Connect to hold real-time discussions. However, this week you will initially be meeting in pairs to discuss the case study that you have read. Each pair will spend the first 30 minutes discussing their case studies. We will then ask you to summarise your discussion and identify any issues it raises about the use of online research methods in general. You will then join up with another pair to share your summaries and explore any common themes that have emerged.

In your meeting you may wish to consider:

  • Why the researchers chose the methods that they did
  • How appropriate were they to address the research questions
  • Whether the research could have been carried out using traditional research methods


After this week's synchronous activity

You will also have now experienced up to three different synchronous meetings (working as a pair/three, group of four and larger group of five or six). What insights has this experience of participating and contributing to these three different meetings given you about conducting synchronus interviews/focus groups online? Post any reflections that you wish to share about these or any other aspect of the discussions on your blog.

Reading

Ballard, C. and Prine, R. (2002) Citizens' Perceptions of Community Policing: comparing internet and mail survey responses. Social Science Computer Review, 20 , 485-493.

Cameron, K. A., Salazar, L.F., Bernhardt, J. M., Burgess-Whitman, N., Wingood, G. M. and DiClemente, R.M. (2005) Adolescents’ experience with sex on the web: results from online focus groups. Journal of Adolescence, 28, 4, 535–540.

Coomber, R. (1997) Using the Internet for survey research, Sociological Research Online, 2, 2.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.socresonline.org.uk/2/2/2.html.

James, N. (2007) The use of email interviewing as a qualitative method of inquiry in educational research. British Educational Research Journal, 33, 6, 963-976.

James, N. and Busher, H. (2006) Credibility, authenticity and voice: Dilemmas in online interviewing, Qualitative Research, 6, 3, 403-420.

Livingstone, S. and Bober, M. (2004) UK Children Go Online: surveying the experiences of young people and their parents. London: LSE Research Online.

O’Connor, H. and Madge, C. (2001) Cyber-mothers: Online synchronous interviewing using conferencing software. Sociological Research Online, 5, 4.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.socresonline.org.uk/5/4/o'connor.html.

Stewart, F., Eckermann, E. and Zhou, K. (1998) Using the Internet in qualitative public health research: A comparison of Chinese and Australian young women's perceptions of tobacco. Internet Journal of Health Promotion.

Stewart, K and Williams M. (2005) Researching online populations: the use of online focus groups for social research. Qualitative Research, 5, 4, 395-416.

Williams, M. (2007) Avatar watching: participant observation in graphical online environments. Qualitative Research, 7, 1, 5-24.

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 4: Asynchronous methods: surveys, questionnaires, interviews

This week we will be looking in more detail at the different types of asynchronous online research methods. Given the focus on asynchronous methods there will be no synchronous meeting this week.

The term asynchronous research simply means forms of research that don’t require the researcher and the researched to be online simultaneously. We are going to focus on two methodologies this week.

  • Online questionnaires
  • Asynchronous interviews/focus groups

During the week

Watch Clare's lecture about using asynchronous technologies for interviews and focus groups.
Watch Tristram and Jane's discussion about using online questionnaires for a student survey.

You may find it helpful to refer to the following sections of the ORM website:

Questionnaire module (especially sections 2, 3 and 4)
Interviews module (especially sections 2,3 and 4)

E-tivities

We would like you to take part in an online asynchronous interview. You will need to look at this e-tivity a number of times throughout the week.

We would also like you to contribute to the Wikipedia entry on online research methods.

And keep on blogging about your experiences and what you learn.

Reading

Questionnaires module

Interviews module

Bosnjak, M. and Tuten, T. L. (2001) Classifying response behaviors in web-based surveys, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 6, 3.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol6/issue3/boznjak.html.

Bampton, R. and Cowton, C. J. (2002) The E-interview, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 3, 2.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/2-02/2-02bamptoncowton-e.htm.

Rezabek, R. J. (2000) Online focus groups: Electronic discussions for research, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1, 1.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1128.

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 5: Synchronous methods: focus groups and interviews

This week we will be looking in more detail at the different types of synchronous online research methods.    

The term synchronous research simply means forms of research that require the researcher and the researched to be online simultaneously. We are going to focus on the following two methodologies this week.

  • Synchronous interviews
  • Synchronous focus groups

Before this week's synchronous activity

Watch the lecture on synchronous methods.

You should also read some articles from this week's reading list to help get a sense of how other researchers have approached synchronous online research. You may also find it helpful to refer to the Interviews module on the Exploring ORMs website.

In this weeks synchronous discussion we will be trying to draw up a list of practical tips and interventions that you can use in a synchronous discussion. We have drawn up a short list of typical advice that tends to be given about face-to-face interviews and focus groups. You might be able to use this to spark your thinking about good practice in online research.

This week's synchronous activity

We will hold a synchronous discussion where we will draw up a list of tips for good practice in online interviews and focus groups.

After this week's synchronous activity

We would like you to continue with the Wikipedia e-tivity and add information about synchronous methods.

You should also continue to keep your blog up to date with a reflection on this weeks e-tivities.

Reading

Cameron, K. A., Salazar, L.F., Bernhardt, J. M., Burgess-Whitman, N., Wingood, G. M. and DiClemente, R.M. (2005) Adolescents’ experience with sex on the web: results from online focus groups. Journal of Adolescence, 28, 4, 535–540.

Chen, P. and Hinton, S. M. (1999) Realtime interviewing using the world wide web. Sociological Research Online, 4, 3.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.socresonline.org.uk/4/3/chen.html.

Davis, M., Golding, G., Hart, G., Sherr, L. and Elford, J. (2004) Reflecting on the experience of interviewing online: perspectives from the Internet and HIV study in London, Aids Care, 16, 8, 944 - 952.

Hughes, J. and Lang, K. (2004) Issues in Online Focus Groups: Lessons learned from an empirical study of peer-to-peer filesharing system users.  Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 2, 2, 95-110.

Schneider, S., Kerwin, J., Frechtling, J. and Vivari, B. (2002) Characteristics of the discussion in online and face-to-face focus groups.  Social Science Computer Review, 20, 1, 31-42.

Stewart, K and Williams M. (2005) Researching online populations: the use of online focus groups for social research. Qualitative Research, 5, 4, 395-416.

Sweet, C (1999). Designing and Conducting Virtual Focus Groups. Quirk's Marketing Research Review, 0548

Sweet, C. (2001) Designing and conducting virtual focus groups. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal 4, 3, 30 -135

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 6: Experiments and ethnographies

This week we will be looking at two different types of online research - online experiments and virtual ethnographies. Both of these share some of the features of the other online research methods that we have already explored, but they also raise new issues with regard to the methods, ethics and practicalities of carrying out research online.

Before this week's synchronous activity

Watch anthropologist Michael Wesch (2008), An anthropological introduction to YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU. In it he talks through some of the anthropological work that he and his students have been doing with You Tube. His discussion of You Tube is generally interesting in relation to the course - but pay particular attention to the kinds of methodologies that they use. The lecture is almost an hour in length but is well worth watching.

and/or read

Reips, U.-D. (2002) Standards for Internet-based experimenting. Experimental Psychology, 49 (4), 243-256 and have a look at http://www.onlinepsychresearch.co.uk/ to see some experiments that are currently running. 

What particular issues do these forms of online research raise?  Do they encourage you to think differently about online research practice more generally? 

This week's synchronous activity

You will be meeting up in synchronously in small groups in Connect to collaboratively develop an outline proposal for an online experiment or online ethnographic study. These will be hypothetical - unfortunately you won't get to carry them out.

After this week's synchronous activity

As part of this course you need to develop a project idea and pilot it with members of the group. We would like you to start thinking about your own project and post some initial thoughts about your research design in your blog.

Reading

Ellison, N., Heino, R., and Gibbs, J. (2006) Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11, 2, article 2.
[External Link - opens in a new window]http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol11/issue2/ellison.html

Reips, U.-D. (2002) Standards for Internet-based experimenting. Experimental Psychology, 49, 4, 243-256
[External Link - opens in a new window]http://www.psychologie.unizh.ch/sowi/reips/papers/exppsy/ExPsyReipsReprint.pdf

Leander, K. and McKim, K. (2003) Tracing the Everyday 'Sitings' of Adolescents on the Internet: a strategic adaptation of ethnography across online and offline spaces.  Education, Communication & Information, 3, 2, 211 - 240.

Schulte-Mecklenbeck, M. and Huber, O. (2003) Information search in the laboratory and on the Web: With or without an experimenter, Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 35, 2, 227-23

Jagger, E. (2005) Is thirty the new sixty? Dating, age and gender in a postmodern consumer society.  Sociology 39, 1, 89-106.

Whitty, M. (2005) The Realness of Cybercheating: Men's and Women's Representations of Unfaithful Internet Relationships. Social Science Computer Review 23, 1, 57-67.

Lawson, H. and Leck, K. (2006) Dynamics of Internet Dating. Social Science Computer Review, 24, 2, 189-208.

For further information on online experiments you may be interested in looking at Gardner, K. J. (n.d.). Online Psychology Research UK. http://www.onlinepsychresearch.co.uk/ as it provides an excellent starting point for the literature on the subject.

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 7: Starting to plan your own project and investigate ethical issues

The first assessment for this module is the project proposal for a research project that you will pilot as part of this module. This week's activities are designed to help you develop this project, and gain feedback on it, and in particular to explore the ethical issues that it raises.

Before this week's synchronous activity

Watch Tristram's lecture on Online Research Ethics and work through Ethics module on the ORM website. You may also want to look at other articles on this week's reading list.

Post to your blog giving a brief description of the project that you intend to pilot during this module. Include information about:

  • The online methodologies you intend to use
  • Your recruitment strategy (for your actual participants - not the piloting)
  • What technology you will be employing
  • Any ethical issues that your project raises.

Read the blogged project descriptions of the other members of your group prior to the synchronous meeting.

This week's synchronous activity

We would like you to discuss your proposed research, identifying any ethical issues which present particular difficulties and which you would welcome input/advice from your fellow course members.  You may find it helpful to consider the checklist of issues that Eysenbach and Till (2001), recommend should be discussed before studying an internet community.  Clearly, there are many other issues, dependent on the particular research project but this list provides good starting point.

  1. Intrusiveness. Discuss the extent to which the research is intrusive (will it involve passive analysis of internet postings or more active involvement in the community by participating?)
  2. Perceived privacy. Discuss (preferably in consultation with members of the community) the level of perceived privacy of the community (Is it a closed group requiring registration? What is its membership size? What are the group norms?)
  3. Vulnerability. Discuss how vulnerable the community is
  4. Potential harm. As a result of the above, discuss whether the intrusion of the researcher or publication of the results has potential to harm individuals or the community as a whole
  5. Informed consent. Discuss whether informed consent is required and how it will be obtained
  6. Confidentiality. How can the anonymity of participants be protected?
  7. Intellectual property rights. In some cases participants may not seek anonymity, but publicity, so the use of postings without attribution may not be appropriate

After this week's synchronous activity

We would like you to reflect on the feedback that you have been given and to start working on your first assignment.  A key issue to consider over the next week or so is how you will be using the opportunity to pilot your project with the course group.

In order to pilot your project as part of this course you will also need to complete the University of Leicester ethics form form your pilot project.  This ethics form will only give you approval for the pilot research that you do as a part of the course (ie where your fellow course participants are taking on the role of your research participants).  Some sections of the form have already been completed as part of the university's ethics approval process for taught modules.  Please note that you will need to follow your own institution's procedures for ethical approval before undertaking your project in full.

Reading

Ethics module

Bruckman, A. (2002a) Ethical Guidelines for Research online
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~asb/ethics/.

Economic and Social Research Council (2005) Research Ethics Framework.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.esrc.ac.uk/_images/Framework_for_Research_Ethics_tcm8-4586.pdf.

Ess, C. and AoIR Ethics Working Committee (2002) Ethical decision-making and internet research: Recommendations form the AoIR ethics working committee.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.aoir.org/reports/ethics.pdf.

Eysenbach, G. and Till, J. (2001) Ethical issues in qualitative research on internet communities, British Medical Journal, 323, 7321, 1103-1105.

British Psychological Society (2002) Guidelines for ethical practice in psychological research online.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bps.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/conducting_research_on_the_internet-guidelines_for_ethical_practice_in_psychological_research_online.pdf

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close headingWeek 8 and 9: Developing and piloting your own and others' project.

Before this week's synchronous activity

During this week you should finish up the design of your pilot study, prepare it for launch and contact the other course participants who will be taking part in your pilot.

You should also ensure that you complete and submit your ethics form (see week 7) before proceeding with your pilot. 

This week's synchronous activity

There will be no formal synchronous meeting in weeks 8 or 9.  However we strongly suggest that, where possible, you make use of the Thursday timeslot for pilot activities (particularly those making use synchronous methods).

After this week's synchronous activity

Submit your research design proposal.

Continue piloting your own and your fellow course members' research projects.

 

Close heading CLOSE

Open/close heading Week 10: Reflection on your professional development

The focus of this week's discussion is what has been learnt from the pilots that have taken place so far.  You will be working in allocated groups.  For the first 40 minutes or so we'd like you to discuss your project and the issues you identified as a result of undertaking a pilot and then discuss the feedback from your colleagues.  

In the final 20 minutes we'd like each group to reflect on the issues that have been raised and to identify any common themes or issues that arise.  Use these to develop a set of recommendations that you'd make to other online researchers.

 

Close heading CLOSE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authors of this page: Jane Wellens and Tristram Hooley - Year of publication: 2009
  © 2004-2010  All rights reserved    |    Maintained by ReStore    |    About this website    |    Disclaimer    |    Copyright    |    Citation policy    |    Contact us