Research methods on the Internet

Hewson, Claire (2015). Research methods on the Internet. In: Cantoni, Lorenzo ed. Communication and Technology. Handbooks of Communication Science Series (5). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 277–302.



This chapter considers how the various internet communication technologies discussed in Section I can and have been used to support, and arguably transform, social and behavioural research methods. Focus here is on primary research, that is, "the acquisition and analysis of data to produce novel evidence and research findings" (Hewson, Laurent and Vogel, forthcoming). Primary research on the internet has been referred to as internet-mediated research (IMR) (Hewson et al. 2003) and this term will be adopted throughout the present chapter. The chapter will not consider secondary research on the internet, such as conducting a literature review or creating a bibliography; for useful guides on the latter see Hewson et al. (2003); Ó Dochartaigh (2012). The structure of the chapter is as follows: overview and history of IMR; scope and range of IMR methods, with illustrations; key issues and debates in IMR (data quality, sampling, ethics); future possibilities and directions.

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