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Internet Mediated Research: The Viability of Synchronous Online Interviewing and Web-Based Diaries for Data Collection with Participants with Social Communication Difficulties

Hinchcliffe, Vanessa (2009) Internet Mediated Research: The Viability of Synchronous Online Interviewing and Web-Based Diaries for Data Collection with Participants with Social Communication Difficulties. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 4 (1). pp. 181-198. ISSN 1833-1882

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    Internet Mediated Research (IMR) is, compared to more established methods, still in its infancy
    but nevertheless techniques and technologies to support it are advancing rapidly. As the pace of
    technological change increases, there is ever more need to understand not just the practicalities but
    the challenges and opportunities that IMR presents. This paper presents a practical guide to using
    synchronous online interviewing and web-based diaries for data collection with participants with social
    communication difficulties. Included here are detail of the participant and researcher interfaces, and
    description of their use whilst carrying out two forms of data collection. Synchronous online interviews
    provide rich qualitative data from real-time interaction between participant and researcher, whereas
    web-based diaries provide Internet-based access to non-retrospective qualitative accounts over an
    extended period. The challenges and opportunities these techniques offer are subsequently explored
    in this paper, as the researcher sets out a critical reflection of her use of these techniques, from the
    viewpoint of both respondent and researcher. The quality and utility of both online interviewing and
    web-based diaries are discussed and evaluated, along with how the ethical issues were addressed.
    Lack of non-verbal encouragement proved problematic for some online participants. IMR, however,
    proved a particularly effective communication platform for data collection, by providing flexibility in
    time and location, increasing anonymity through secure password protected environments, giving
    access to relatively unselfconscious accounts and by being cost effective. For participants with social
    communication and/or specific learning difficulties, the computer environment was adaptable, making
    it less stressful than face-to-face human interaction. For the researcher, events could be captured
    close to when they happened, and traced over time. Data completion could be monitored, archived
    and easily entered into a computer assisted qualitative data analysis program. Transcription was unnecessary,
    making a considerable saving in terms of time and potential transcription errors.

    Keywords: Internet Mediated Research, Synchronous Online Interviewing, Instant Messenger, Web-
    Based Diaries, Disabilities

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Permissions:
    Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
    H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
    L Education > LC Special aspects of education
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    Related URLs:
    Depositing User: Vanessa Hinchcliffe
    Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2009 09:25
    Last Modified: 28 Jul 2010 19:38


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