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Social Media- A tool for research


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This report was submitted to complete the course requirement of "Qualitative & Quantitative Research Methods" at IIIT-Delhi in collaboration with Shubham Singhal.

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Social Media- A tool for research

  1. 1. 1 Social Media The Modern Day Tool for Research ABSTRACT: The Internet is now about interactivity and conversation. The current popularity and exponential growth of users in social networking sites is drawing attention of youth. People spend a lot of time in social networking .These are becoming the modern day communities where thousands of people connect, share and express themselves. This paper tries to study the impacts of social networking on undergraduate research: How has the present day Internet social media promoted research among the undergraduates? Scholars believe that this era of Facebook has opened up various research domains for the under-graduates. This paper would contribute a little in knowing the way undergraduates are influenced towards research by social media. INTRODUCTION Social Media has become a part and parcel of our life.People spend a lot of time in the Social Networking Sites(SNS).They connect to the world and express themselves.The main aim of this paper is to find out : how can social media be used in the field of research. With the increasing number of users in the SNS,the time they spend on them and the resources the SNS can provide,it is essential to know what kind of services it can provide to the under graduate students and how can it make the life easier for the under graduate researchers. It is said social media and SNS are indeed a negative aspect when it comes to students wasting time on it. But we have a positive side too. Today the same social media has grown to such an extent that students can now benefit from it in the field of research.These can be put to Evolution of Internet has completely changed the way of doing research.Earlier Research was done primarily by reading books,magazines, personal interviews and observations. Collecting the data is a huge task. Now with the evolution of Internet the ways of doing research have changed completely. Unlimited amounts of data is available online.Anyone can get the data from the net easily.The data collected needs to be analyzed and interpreted in the right way in order to get the right results.We can definitely do this by conducting personal interviews,etc.But this can take a large amount of time and even for us gathering people,conducting survey is a hectic task.Social Media brings a excellent solution to all these problems.We can even know the views and opinions of distant and unknown person according to our requirement. We can conduct polls,surveys in a really effective manner in a really short time.Now in this paper we want to understand the how the present day social media promoted research among the under graduates.This paper tries to overcome the problems of which are not dealt in other papers of the same domain. In changing times when more and more people are communicating online, Social media is play- ing an influential role in forming public opinions. Reaching out to people who earlier were totally inaccessible has opened up a new domain for bet- ter data collection. But this source is extremely unreliable as in presence of thousands of online users there is potential threat of anonymous entries which may influence actual conclusion/output of the research. Social Media has become a part and parcel of our life.With the number of facebook users over 750 million users one can understand that the people like to connect to the Social Network- ing Sites.They spend hours of time on SNS.They share messages,upload images,videos express to their friends.It provides a great platform where one can keep in touch with distant friends who would otherwise wont be in touch.One can go on to chat with foreigner professors,peers,friends,family and anyone. So,what we want to say is SNS has all types of people,from in state users to overseas users.So it has a great resource power.How is this useful to the under graduate researchers? Consider an example to understand it better. Say if we want to know whether the people think the invention of the SNS
  2. 2. 2 is good or bad to the society? Then one can just go on to the SNS and can poll the question.Now the results would be far more accurate compared to the results one would have obtained if he had done it manually because now the sample is far more representative of the people .Comparatively it is more accurate,faster,better way of doing research than the other methods of research. Social media has gained its significance and can be used in the field of research for better and productive research.Yes,it has disadvantages many or most of the people in the SNS waste a lot of time in the SNS.In this case not only it has effected the time but also the research they would have done if the time is not wasted on the SNS.But every model has some advantages and disadvantage.SNS has great power from its resources,if used effectively,which this paper focuses on, one can do great researches especially the under graduates. SURVEY ANALYSIS To understand the impact of SNS on Undergrad- uate researchers, an online survey was conducted. 97 students filled up the survey and submitted their opinions. It was ensured that the survey was restricted to the Under Graduates only and each response is independent of the other response. A large strata of researchers thinks that social media is important in todays world (which may be either as their research topic or as a medium for data collection). About 80% of the researchers support the use of social media in modern times. Whereas about 20% of them have not used Social media yet. With changing times, it is observed that people are gradually switching from conventional data collec- tion sources (i.e. personal interviews or previous researches) to modern tool of social interaction through internet. Possible reason for this transit could be that the social media provides a faster, easier and economical way for data collection. A question was asked whether Social Media is in any way useful for your Research. 80% of the people feel that Social Media is useful as a part of their Research. Its an interesting result compared to the traditional way of doing Research. Traditionally Books were termed as the Best friends for the students and SNS had no role to play. But now the Social Media has gained its own significance. One can collect data from distant and unknown person according to the requirement. We can conduct polls and surveys in a really efficient manner in short time. A question was asked about the extent to which Social Media can contribute to Research? It was observed that majority of the people think SNS useful part of their research. As one can observe from the figure, mean is 2.7 which means SNS can useful for the Under Graduate Research but not very useful. It may be a bit less than expected because of various reasons. One important reason is that many of them have not done research using SNS. This is supported by the results of the question: How many times you have used Social Media for your Research? The result is not surprising as the mean is just 2.7. Around 40% of the students have not used Social Media at all in their Research. Around 30% of the students have used the Social Media just once for their Research. So one can strongly argue that because there is no exposure among many students about SNS being used as a tool for the Under Graduate Research, many students have felt that SNS cant b be used as a Research tool. So definitely one can say that Social Media is very useful tool for Research and the extent to which it can contribute is high among the users, keeping in view that around 40% of the students have not used SNS at all. In order to analyze how these SNS can be used in Research the following question was put up: In which way can the Social Media be a part of your Research? The major use is in collecting the data from various sources which contribute to around 73%. Also one can observe that the overall percentage is greater than 100% as this is due to multiple answers possible. An interesting fact one can observe is around 38% of the people use the Social Media as a part of their Research. The Research they are doing is on the Social Media. In the present days where millions of people spend hours of time in the SNS there is definetly a need to Research about various aspects of the SNS. So one can say that SNS have opened various Research options for the Under Graduates. 40% of the people use SNS as a means to communicate with the research collaborators. From this one can observe that student can take the opinions, views and help of the collaborator irre- spective of the time and place. For example student can send a document of his work over the SNS; the collaborator can then send his opinions about
  3. 3. 3 the document, possible draw backs and the areas where the student can improve. Here student and the collaborator can be in two different countries and student doesnt need to halt his research till then. Whenever required the student can take the opinions of the collaborator, fix them and continue with the research. We have seen that in the previous section that 73% of the students use SNS as a means of col- lecting data. How do they use SNS in collecting the data? In order to explore this, a question was posted. The result concluded that most of them use Surveys and Polls in order to collect the data. Again being a multiple option question the overall percentage exceeded 100%. Surveys in SNS are a great source of information. We can take the opinion of whoever we want by just giving the link to the person. With this we can make sure that there all kinds of people filling your survey. Our samples can now actually Representative. People also use direct communication with the people but using survey is lot more convenient. We can just post on the peoples wall whose opinions we want to take and whenever they come online, they can see the link and fill the survey. Rather in direct communication it is lot more difficult to do the same task. Surveys also possess a great advantage where the privacy of the user can also be ensured whereas in direct communication the results may give biased results. How much reliable (dependable, trustworthy, con- sistent) is the data collected from Social Networking Sites (surveys, images, videos etc.)? Though social media provided an easier way of data collection, its reliability is questionable. Conducting online surveys always carry a threat of inconsistent data aggregation. Anonymity is important but some basic information about the participants is vital to ensure usability of participants response. Referencing our own research for example, its important to consider only undergraduate participants otherwise the re- sults cant deliver any explicit conclusion. This con- cern is not justified by social media. True identity of the participants cant be verified and hence it (social media) remains an unreliable and untrusted source of data. However in collaboration with other data collection schemes, social media can prove to be noteworthy. In order to understand the role of Social Media in the collection of data another question was posted to rank the various methods used in the data collection. It was observed that Social Media got less score compare to the other traditional methods such as Books, Magazines. Here one has to observe that Social Media is a relatively new developing field, with origins in the last 5-6 years and still it is able to compete very much as we observe the difference be- tween the traditional methods of Books, Magazines and the Social Media. So it has a great scope in the future and it may certainly overtake the traditional methods of collecting the data. Now the final question posted was to study the amount of time people spend on the SNS. This summarizes the whole thing why we our research is of relevance and significance. It studies the amount of time people spend on SNS. As we observe the result almost one-third of the people spend more than 3 hours in the SNS per day. This is a very huge number. Nearly 85% of the people spend more than hour in the SNS per day. So it is very important to study whether the time they spend is contributing to the Research, which it would have if the SNS was not there. ETHICAL ISSUES Ethical Issues can never be ignored whenever we carry out Research. Here while designing the ques- tions for the survey, care has been taken such that the questions are not biased. No question can be misleading so as to confuse the survey participants. An example for misleading question- Do you feel the data collection from Social Media contributes to your Research more than the traditional way of collecting data? the word more is confusing, how do we measure more? Also care has been taken not to disclose the identity of the person when collecting the data. Maintaining the anonymity of the user ensures privacy to the data and the user can freely express his opinions. The experiment presents the facts with evidences. The advantages of social media an the various ways how social media can be put to use have been highlighted but the traditional ways have not been ignored or criticized.