Conducting empirical research in virtual worlds.
In: Innovative Research in Virtual Worlds 2011 Conference , 3- 4 November 2011, Coventry University Technology Park, Coventry, UK.
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We will focus on the following aspects of conducting empirical research in virtual worlds: the toolbox of techniques for data collection; selection of technique(s) for the research questions; tips on how the techniques need to be adapted for conducting research in virtual worlds; guidance for developing research materials such as the consent form, project summary sheet, and how to address the possible concerns of an institution’s ethics committee who may not be familiar with the avatar-based interactions in virtual worlds; Suggestions such as how the ethical guidelines of conducting research both in offline settings and on the internet need to be considered and combined in the preparation of research materials for conducting research in virtual worlds; outlining the issues related to in-world recruitment of participants; guidance on conducting interviewing and focus group techniques in virtual worlds; or conducting user-observations in virtual worlds; or carrying out guideline inspections or heuristic evaluations to evaluate the designs of learning spaces in virtual worlds; ecommendations for the logistics of conducting empirical research in virtual worlds such as voice versus text-based data collection, developing a researcher identity or a consistent persona, choosing the locations for conducting interviews or focus groups, how to facilitate and manage the multiple channels of communication such as text (local chat and instant messaging), gestures and voice; how the anonymity of the medium demands greater investment of time to establish a mutually beneficial trust relationship with participants; and pointers for the skills and training needs of researchers for conducting empirical research in virtual worlds.
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