Choosing a Method
• Online methods
• Offline methods
• Research objectives
• Context of study
• Location & familiarity of participants
of how people view webpages
Ethical Online Research
• Consent not needed to research “public forum”
• If you need to register for website, then get
informed consent from participants
• Be careful if considering deception or
working with children or medically infirm
Beware the “Real Life” Trap
“Consequently, an analysis that takes
the face-to-face as its starting point
is unable to explain the specificity
of the online phenomenon it aims
to study; it can explain what is going
on online only in terms of
Online Is Not Ahistorical
Sharing your location with friends via a mobile
app Foursquare or a postcard
• Methods lead to different assumptions
So consider carefully…
• Establish a theoretical framework to situate your research
e.g., McLuhan’s media effects theory
Maslow’s uses and gratification theory
• Museum of Civilization changing name and focus
• Campaign to hear from Canadians on the changes
• CBC ran a news article
on this and enabled public
• Result = a rich source of
discourse on this issue
Coding Online Discourse
1. Read through CBC article and
2. As you encounter passages of interest,
circle it and give it an indicative
label (a “code”)
3. Codes can be one word or a few
4. Be creative – similar to brainstorming
5. Find other instances of the code
1. Find a partner
2. Discuss prominent or reoccurring
codes you identified
3. Discuss how your findings help
elucidate a theme or indicate a pattern
1. What themes did you find?
2. What level of analysis did you use?
3. What did you learn from your
experience of coding?
• Bakardjieva, M. (2009). A response to Shani Orgad. Internet inquiry:
Conversations about method (pp. 54–60). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
• Brown, M. C. (2012, August 16). An iPhone in the DRC. Time.
Retrieved from http://lightbox.time.com/
• Fielding, N. G., Lee, R. M., & Blank, G. (Eds.). (2008). The Sage handbook of
online research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
• Hamilton, R. J., & Bowers, B. J. (2006). Internet recruitment & e-mail interviews in
qualitative studies. Qualitative Health Research, 16(6), 821–835.
• Markham, A., & Buchanan, E. (2012). Ethical decision-making & Internet research:
Version 2.0. AoIR. Retrieved from http://aoir.org/documents/ethics-guide
• Nielsen, J. (2006, April 17). F-shaped pattern for reading web content. Alertbox.
Retrieved from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html
• Opdenakker, R. (2006). Advantages & disadvantages of four interview techniques in
qualitative research. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(4), 1.
• Orgad, S. (2009). How can researchers make sense of the issues involved in
collecting & interpreting online & offline data? In A. Markham & N. K. Baym (Eds.),
Internet inquiry: Conversations about method (pp. 33–53).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.