E-Research Tools & Resourcesmkoole, · Categories: E-Research
When I first heard the word “e-research”, I thought it was unnecessary nomenclature. Research is research. Our research topics are based on our interests and/or perceived needs (gaps) in our fields. How we shape our research questions and approaches is interwoven with our ontological and epistemological perspectives. We choose and shape our methodological approaches in ways that help us answer our research questions. The actual methods for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting our data is commensurate with our perspectives and designed to answer our research questions. We choose the tools according to all of these above criteria along with some considerations for timelines and finances. Or, perhaps, we simply use the tools at our disposal, making modifications and concessions if necessary and defensible. It all fits into a tidy series of steps—or so I thought. The problem, however, is that researchers are confronted with a stunning array of tools and possibilities. And, eventually, we must ask ourselves to what extent the tools might influence the research process, the researchers, and the participants. More importantly, there are ethical and legal implications surrounding how we employ these tools.
So, what is e-research?
Hooley, Wellens, and Mariott (2011) suggest that there are two basic forms of online research in the social sciences: 1) that which examines the Internet itself, and 2) that which uses the Internet to conduct research on social issues (also see Carusi, 2008). There is a large variety of e-research tools including, but not limited to:
- online surveys,
- data mining tools (for digital archive mining, activity log analysis, social network analysis, and
- online synchronous tools for interviews (VoIP, chat rooms).
Researchers can use more than one tool in a given research project. This may mean mashing together quantitative data with qualitative data (mixed methods). Researchers may combine video, audio, and textual data (Carusi, 2008). This may further complicate the research process as the researcher is confronted with a huge amount of data. Furthermore, s/he will have to determine whether inclusion of different media and modes of expression can result in meaningful analysis. For example, is an interview conducted purely by audio comparable to an interview conducted using audio and video or an interview conducted asynchronously by text. Each medium may draw focus to different aspects of interaction (visual cues, auditory cues, textual cues such as spelling and grammar). The different media may also permit more or less reflection time during interaction. They may compel different techniques for conveying meaning (such as voice modulation or physical gestures).
More to come . . . nifty tools . . .
Carusi, A. (2008). Data as representation: Beyond anonymity in e-research ethics. International Journal of Internet Research Ethics, 1(1), 37–65. Retrieved from http://ijire.net/issue_1.1/ijire_1.1_carusi.pdf
Hooley, T., Wellens, J., & Marriott, J. (2011). What is online research?: Using the Internet for social science reserach (p. 176). New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA.