bulletin boards

Online Group Discussions: Participants’ Security & Identity Questions

Every researcher working with human subjects strives to ensure the highest ethical standards. Regardless of whether the research is quantitative or qualitative in fingerprint-illusions-6nature – or in the field of health, communications, education, psychology, marketing, anthropology, or sociology – researchers care about protecting the confidentiality, anonymity, and basic “rights” (such as privacy and freedom of thought) of the people who agree to be part of their studies. It is with this in mind that, in addition to gaining IRB approval (as required), researchers openly discuss the goals and intended use of their research with participants, as well as asking them to carefully read and agree to the appropriate consent forms. Online group discussions (focus groups) present a particularly delicate matter. Unlike any other overt form of research – unlike an online survey dominated by closed-end questions, or an online in-depth interview with one person at any moment in time – the online group discussion – with its amalgamation of many people (typically, strangers to each other) responding at length to many open-ended questions over the course of multiple (possibly, many) days – potentially raises important security and identity concerns among participants. Even with a signed consent form, online group participants may still have serious doubts about the containment of their input to the discussion and, hence, their willingness to contribute Read Full Text

Can You Hear Me Now? Listening in Qualitative Research

Somewhere back in school Carl RogersOn Becoming a Person was required reading.  Maybe because of the title – and my life-long goal to become “a person” – or maybe because there is something endearing about Carl Rogers himself, whatever the reason this is one of the few books I have held on to for these many years.  The binding of my 1961 paperback edition has fallen apart and only a rubber band keeps the pages bound in some sense of order.

Anyone familiar with Rogers knows that he is considered the father of client-centered therapy.  Rogers took a different approach to therapy from his colleagues of the day, one that was open, flexible, and empowered the client to determine his/her own therapeutic course.  This was a fairly radical approach at the time and even now there are those who dispute Rogers’ techniques.  Admittedly a client-centered session can be difficult to watch, as his interview in 1965 with Gloria illustrates.

The Rogers-Gloria interview is an example of Rogers’ method of using  long silences pierced by a few quiet words of encouragement, highlighting a key component to client-centered therapy –  listening.  Rogers believed that a true understanding of an individual, and the ability Read Full Text

The Pitfall of Bulletin Board Qualitative Research

This past week I attended a Webinar concerning online bulletin boards sponsored by an online research provider.  The focus of the presentation was on their fairly new bulletin board platform that incorporates several novel bells and whistles from their earlier version.  I was quite impressed by the degree of flexibility and richness the technology offers, with features that enhance not only participant engagement but also that of the moderator and virtual backroom client viewers – e.g., the ability to embed multimedia stimuli and activities, enable participant-generated content (think, personal ethnographies), and easily multi-task between responding to participants’ posts on the one hand while managing the backroom on the other.

Of course, it is not surprising that a technology as rich as this has the capability of going way beyond run-of-the-mill facilitation and Read Full Text