Research design and tools for internet research

Hewson, Claire (2017). Research design and tools for internet research. In: Fielding, Nigel G.; Lee, Raymond M. and Blank, Grant eds. The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods (2nd Ed.). London: Sage, pp. 57–75.


This chapter provides an overview of the tools and techniques available for gathering primary research data using the Internet. Both obtrusive (surveys, experiments, interviews, observation) and unobtrusive (observation, document analysis) methods are considered. Emphasis is on elucidating the range of design choices available, offering general principles of good design practice, and considering how design decisions should be made in relation to the aims and goals of a research study. Choices between offline and online implementations are considered, as well as decisions concerning the particular procedures to adopt online. The chapter raises a range of issues, including levels of sample bias and sampling techniques online, levels of control in implementing primary Internet research procedures, effects of the online communication medium, and ethical considerations. These are considered within a design framework, focusing on how to maximize the trustworthiness, reliability, and validity of Internet-based primary research studies.

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