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Researching online populations: The use of online focus groups for social research

Stewart, Katherine Felicity and Williams, Matthew Leighton 2005. Researching online populations: The use of online focus groups for social research. Qualitative Research 5 (4) , pp. 395-416. 10.1177/1468794105056916

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The survivability of ‘traditional’ methods within computer-mediated settings is dependent upon their capacity to be utilized and adapted to the technology that mediates human interaction online. This article addresses the established focus group method and evaluates its success in online applications, using as examples two quite different research projects. The first, drawn from research into the employment experiences of inflammatory bowel disease sufferers exemplifies the use of asynchronous online focus groups, identifying key practical issues such as online moderation and the analysis of digital data. In contrast the second study, into deviance within online communities, provides an example of how synchronous forms of online focus groups, held within 3D graphical environments, create further challenges for the researcher, highlighting unique ethical considerations of conducting fieldwork in cyberspace. The article draws together the authors’ experiences of applying the method to offer insights into the viability and practicability of online focus groups.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: analysing digital data, ethics, focus groups, internet research, online research
Publisher: Sage Publishing
ISSN: 1468-7941
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:49

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