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Questions about Qualitative Research in Online Settings

Now that school is back in session, I’m doing some great readings on qualitative research in online settings. I learned a lot from two pieces, Dutton’s handbook on doing research in online settings and boyd’s article, “Making Sense of Teen Life: Strategies for Capturing Ethnographic Data in a Networked Era”. Both generated many questions for doing research in online settings.


1.     How do you deal with informed consent in online settings?

a.     How do you feel about observing social networking sites?

b.     How does this differ from observing chat rooms or web forums?

2.     Can you gain strong qualitative data purely from conducting interviews online? How important is it to meet your subjects face to face?

3.     How do you establish trust in online settings?

4.     How do you feel about conducting interviews via chat platforms or email?

5.     What are the strengths and weaknesses of online focus groups?


As I wade through the theoretical and practical issues associated with qualitative research in online settings, these are some of the questions I think about. I’d be curious to know your answers too!


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