Just use the right methods

Orgad’s topic, “How Can Researchers Make Sense of the Issues Involved in Collecting and Interpreting Online and Offline Data?”, is important to look at, as more research is beginning to take place online.  (On a side note, when I was looking for sources for my research proposal I noticed that there is a lot of interesting research online that is happening in Turkey.)     As Orgad mentions the distinction never had to be made before now in communications media.  This is because the Internet is seen as a space, and “often been seen as distinct and separate from offline, or “real” social life, encompassing relations and practices of their own” (Orgad, 2009).  In order to determine whether or not you need to use online and offline data you need to look at your research question.  Trying to mix online and offline research poses a lot of problems, including the authenticity of the identity of the people you are researching, and the sample of the respondents.  Formulating a method of collecting information from both online and offline sources takes a lot of planning, when I take a look at my research question I believe I can answer it just by conducting online research, and that saves me from having to make a complicated method for researching. When you used both you need to consider a lot more factors.  Even in Orgad had to justify using both online and offline methods, stating, “Fundamentally, in reading and analyzing women’s accounts, my aim was not to evaluate whether they were “truthful” or not.  Rather. The aim was to obtain an enhanced understanding of women’s experiences of using the Internet in relation to their illness” (Orgad, 2009). Orgad concludes that choosing the right method for data collection is important in order to collect high quality data, and that it is important to use the right methods based on your question.   


Ethnographies online

I found the Orgad article important because she discusses the importance of offline data to research that involves online data.  She mentions the blurring of data, and I think that is very true, but I do not think that this article applies to me because I really do want to look at JUST online data.  I know that means I will not have access to the invisible, and I want to be able to advocate for the invisible, specifically for the invisible woman who feels like she cannot join in discussions online because she does not want to be bullied, or the invisible man who is afraid of backlash so he decides not to stand up for other people online.  I guess, when I look at my research in terms of the “invisible” people, who are essentially the people I want to advocate for, then I need to consider offline research.  But how to incorporate it? At this point, I’m not really sure and I will need to give it some more thought. 

Hine looks that the reasons for conducting an ethnography online.  Although I have already made my decision to conduct my research online, her chapter helps me to define my project better.  Right now, I have decided to conduct an ethnography over a few sites, but I never really defined why I would use this method over others.  Using Hine’s structure I can explain why an ethnography would be more beneficial than say face to face interviews, and maybe I won’t have to consider offline data as Orgad considers.


Peer Review

I wasn’t sure what to write about in my blog post this week because there weren’t any assigned readings for this week.  Over the past week I’ve been thinking about the Peer Review.  I’m not really sure how to do a Peer Review but today’s class did help to give me an idea of how I should go about reviewing the article. I plan on peer reviewing “Privacy and Modern Advertising”.  If we are reviewing the research methods I will want to find out more about surveys.  I found a few articles on conducting online surveys and the methodology behind creating an effective online survey.  I plan on reading these articles and keeping them in mind when I read “Privacy and Modern Advertising”


Participant-as-Observer

In his article, Stebbins talks about the “participant-as-observer”. For my research proposal I’m
proposing to use this method of research. One aspect that I find difficult is becoming a new comer,
which Stebbins addresses, “Members of the setting are unlikely to welcome or even tolerate in their
midst for long anyone who threatens them. The participant-as-observer blunts this initial threat by
striving to fit in as soon as possible” . In my situation it will be even more difficult to fit in because I
want to look at people who critique videogames in forums, specifically at people who want to stop
feminist critiques. Being a woman, it will be harder to become a participant in these discussions
because I will already be an outsider, but on top of that I want to look at the environment under a
microscope, so to say, and shed light on the situation. Stebbins says that “To fit in means among other
things, to learn the values, lore, codes of behaviour, hopes and fears, costs and rewards, sense of
involvement,… and the like of another social world” . I think that this trying to fit in will be the most
difficult part, because for some reason, some gamers already feel threatened, and it is my hope that
I will be able to build some rapport with some of these gamers to get a better understanding of their
hopes and fears.


Researching from a distance

This week’s readings are about research at a distance. Some research cannot be done face to face, and that is why some research must be done through questionnaires and sampling.  These methods seem to take a lot of planning; Knight mentions how much work goes into planning a good questionnaire.  What really struck me is the technical skill that is needed to construct a questionnaire.  Over the summer I took a KMD course, and we made an online questionnaire for people with diabetes.  It took a lot of thinking and planning to come up with just 20 questions, and even then, our questions weren’t very thoughtful.  The questions were very simple, and they sort of worked for the purpose of our project, but they didn’t give much insight into what the needs of a diabetic were.  And, upon getting feedback from some people we discovered that the way we worded questions confused some questionnaire takers.  One thing that we found interesting about the questionnaire method was that we didn’t get the answers we were looking for.  We didn’t influence the person taking the questionnaire in anyway, and the results we got back were really interesting compared to the answers we got back from a focus group we had done earlier in the term.  When we held the focus group we were able to change the way we asked questions so that each person could understand what we wanted from them, but the people who did the online questionnaire had no one to reference, so they just answered the way they thought they should.   Overall, I find that the distance methods are not going to work for me and my current research interests.  I do not want to make broad generalizations, I want to look at a small group and engage with them.  I will take the time to do literature reviews, but the idea of sending out mass surveys does not appeal to me, the results are more quantitative than qualitative.  But does a good research project need to have both quantitative and qualitative research?


My Bedraggled Daisy

I found chapter 4 and 5 of Luker’s book to be very helpful for me, at the stage where I am in my research. I have read much, and I read often. I know that I need to find a network of people to help me further my research, now I need to have a research question to set me in the right direction.  I’m glad she points to the fact that the question can change, and sometimes it is one of the final things you work on.  Right now, I’m working on my bedraggled daisy.  There are so many factors to think about, and I also need to think about “who I am”.   There are many connections I need to make, but here are my petals so far:

  • I want to discuss the gaming community, and their interactions outside of games in several outlets such as blogs and on forums.
  • I also want to focus on how misogynist ideals are promoted/or disregarded on such outlets.  I want to take a cultural theoretical approach to this research.
  • I want to know why women who want to talk about feminism in games are often attacked by other gamers in gaming communities?  We’ve come so far with feminism, why is it that women are still being attacked for wanting equality?
  • In the scope of the videogaming community, why are some gamers still misogynist?

There are lots of questions there, but are any of them the right research question? I’m not sure. Feel free to shed some light on my project if you have any to share. 😀


“nuts and sluts”

I like a lot of what Luker has to say.  I want to research a project and be surprised by my findings.  Searching for the answers should be half the fun, and her method excites me.  I also enjoy the exercises that she ends each chapter with.  It’ll be good to reflect on my questions after doing more research.  That being said, I find it a little problematic that she keeps mentioning how the way people thought back in her day is wrong.  I think that she will still be influenced by the ideas of her day, and by the way research used to work.  Yet, despite her possible biases, she is the one setting down the rules, or giving us tips on how we should choose to do research.  She does take the time to critique aspects of the old way of research, but some old methods might still be useful today.  We still use them, are we supposed to slowly disregard them? Is that how we go about changing research methods? She has her doubts, about certain methods and I am going to have my doubts about her theories as well.  Between Luker and Knight it is apparent that when it comes to teaching, and using, research methods everyone will have their own opinion.