Qualitative approaches in internet-mediated research: opportunities, issues, possibilities

Hewson, Claire (2014). Qualitative approaches in internet-mediated research: opportunities, issues, possibilities. In: Leavy, Patricia ed. The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods. Oxford Library of Psychology Series.. New York, NY: Oxford University Press USA, pp. 423–452.

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Internet-mediated research (IMR) has grown expansively over the last decade or so, in both it's scope and range of methodological possibilities, and it's breadth of penetration across disciplines and research domains. However, the use of IMR approaches to support qualitative research has lagged behind it's application in supporting quantitative methods1. This chapter discusses the possibilities and scope for using IMR methods in qualitative research, and considers some of the issues and debates which have led some qualitative researchers to be reluctant to consider this approach as a viable alternative to traditional offline methods. The chapter adopts an optimistic stance on the potential for qualitative IMR and outlines a range of possible methods and strategies, punctuated with examples of successful (as well as less successful) studies. Practical advice on tools and procedures is offered, as well as guidelines for good design practice. Key issues and caveats are discussed. Finally, a comment on likely future scope, methods, emerging techniques and developments in qualitative IMR is offered.

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