Monday, November 29, 2010

Ethics and the anthros

Our class on ethics reminded me of this song. I don't think I can speak (or sing) on the topic as eloquently as Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman so I'll leave it to him.

Good luck on your proposal

PS I will follow-up with a post that is actually based on the weekly readings ASAP :) 

Sunday, November 28, 2010


My research study would be a starting point for further investigation in public libraries to
involve more participant in the adult programs by reaching out to the community to meet their needs.
Although my research is not design for individuals to pursue their personal concern or interest, but human is the main subject.

Human in my research is a key person who is the main informant of an organization, therefore related organizational objectives and guidelines should be considered and the ethics policies and regulations must be followed.

In Knight, listed pragmatic responses is a good reminding point to prevent accident.


Last Hurdle

Wading into the last task of preparing the full project proposal, I finally learnt what it was that was hampering my abilty to think it through all the way. The problem is that my research question/s, end up with a cause/effect situation; I am proposing a link between two phenomena that isn't proven (by objective criteria); and my proposal is based on this unproven link. It's an assumption at a crucial juncture -- between my background literature and my research question! So now I have to retrace some steps, re-think and regroup. Will I be able to do it in the one remaining week? Who knows! At this stage I am not so much putting one foot in front of the other, as closing my eyes and jumping. This is probably not as effective as salsa dancing in managing a research project.

BTW the very helpful and lightening website that gave me the answer to my puzzle is
(found it by way of a Cornell university research course).

D/K if it was one of the links given in another post last week? If so, thanks! If not and anyone else finds it useful please let me know.

good luck to all,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ethics Dilemma

The question arose when writing my research proposal as to whether or not I have to consider research ethics for my proposed research. However when I read the Knight reading for this week, I realized that survey research usually does not pose the same ethical questions as face-to-face research as it is less invasive. However, Knight (2002) does state that “…even in survey research, sensitive issues appear to inhibit disclosure.” (p.169) Therefore, in my research I decided to be transparent with the respondents and offer to them exactly what my research will be about and explain why I am interested in the research and why I am asking them the questions in the survey. Nonetheless, since I am not asking personal questions of respondents and it will all be anonymous, they do not have to answer the survey and I will not be speaking directly with any respondents I believe it will be easier to gain ethics approval if it is needed.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

tunnel vision

One of the major problems I found with Kushin's article, which I peer reviewed, was that he wanted to find what he was looking for in his data analysis that he saw 'only what is obviously relevant to those perspectives and to miss indications that things might be rather different than those perspectives imply' (Knight, 182). With my own research in mind, I have an idea of what I think I will find going in (or what I hope I will find). I think it would be beneficial to use Knight's tips that he lays out in Chapter 8 for guarding against this type of tunnel vision in quantitative analysis. It is always possible to find out more than you were trying to find in your research project- perhaps something more relevant than the original theory you are testing. I need to keep this in mind both for external and internal validity.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We have been discussing a great deal the use of online vs. offline data when studying online phenomena. I have been thinking about this divide a lot within the context of my research proposal. Due to the fact that it has to do with how identities are constructed on Facebook and whether or not Facebook acts as a supplement or substitution to offline communication, I felt that both online and offline data would be necessary to tackle these questions. Orgad's 'How can researchers make sense of issues' was very helpful in solidifying my choice to use both types of data. In Orgad's study he talks about how the face-to-face interviews conducted on breast cancer patients who participated in online support groups revealed much more complex connections between their online and offline experiences. I am hoping for this to happen with my own research as I am seeking to find out not only how people act on facebook, but their motivations for using the social networking tool in a particular way or for a particular purpose. Clearly this divide between online/offline data depends on your research question, goals and objectives. Orgad talks about how many criticisms of using offline data imply that using online data is not as valid as offline data. For my project, I don't feel the need to privelege one or the other. I am studying an online phenomena, but the offline data I hope to collect will allow me to see how these realms relate.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


After reading chapter seven of Luker, I tried to organize the elements for my research study and I came up with the following elements that I found interesting to add to the public library programme agenda:
Programmes for adult with different abilities
Educational programmes
Training programmes
Technology programmes
Programmes for older adult

Need to say that reading Knight’s chapter eight, made a clear sense of data gathering, although I am still not sure how to develop qualitative data analysis in the case of adult programme in the public library.


Death by analysis

I missed out on posting last week, mainly because I was too exhausted to come up with another usable thought, but also because, having glanced at the readings I thought: low priority -- I'm not planning an online component for my project. Lo! when I did get down to reading them of course I found much to put through the mental grinder. For one thing, I do a lot of reearch online already, and as Hine suggested somewhere in that dense thicket of concepts, only partially digested as yet, how to evaluate online information is quite an important issue. So; more mulling over these 2 papers needed. So far the Orgad is not making total sense to me yet - though I sense there is sense there to be made.

On to this week's chapters on the analysing of quantitative data. An aspect of the research process that I have always approached with dread and avoided as far as possible. Surprisingly, Laker's exposition of the various options gave me some hope that this might not always be so. I began to dimly feel the beauty of information hidden behind the cryptic face of unreadable numbers; and the potential excitements of gradually seeing that information take shape, like a photograph developing, as the data yield coherence and pictures.

Qualitative information, I see now, can't have that kind of mystery, because something is always readable on the surface, albeit partial or misleading.

But maybe the mystery would pall as I come to understand the techniques well enough to be able, possibly, to anticipate patterns in the choices?

Maybe. But that moment is a long way in the future for now. The thought of quantitative data analysis is still a form of instant soma. Not the pleasant kind. If indeed that existed.

I want also to thank all of you who write so extensively about the readings, your thoughts and reflections on their content, applications and particular uses for you. Much of interest, and really appreciated!

Knight, colours on a palette, and questerviews

I wonder if Knight's discussion on the so-called palette of methods would have any relation to my previous post on "Questerviews" . Running with Knight's analogy, I think it is fair to say that questerviews (depending on the study) would be like a mixture of traditional royal blue and magnolia.In other words, they would complement each other depending on the mood one is attempting to elicit (e.g. a vibrant mid-day sky). Coming back to research methods, if a survey uses highly technical or politically charged language as part of its design, it would be creative and appropriate to record the respondents interpretations of the language in the survey (e.g. a questerview). So for example, imagine you are doing a survey on conservatism, I can't tell you how many definitions I have heard of this concept- it is mind boggling. what is more is that of the countless definitions I have heard, none seem to coincide. So what use is a survey with uses the concept of conservatism when there are so many wide-ranging understandings of it. That just one example of the need to creative when "designing ways of using inquiry methods to face the research questions" (Knight, 2002, p.119)

I don't know, I can rant a bit more about Knight but I'll maybe just end by saying that I think Knight is quite balanced and a good source to have handy when writing a research proposal, which is what i think we are all in the process of doing. I will definitely be citing Knight's wisdom in my proposal. And by the way, best of luck to everyone on this assignment, it certainly feels a bit daunting to me. 


I am still having trouble thinking about how to 'frame' my research as we discussed from the Luker readings in the first few weeks in class. While we learn about new methods I am finding it difficult to truly understand the essence of each method. Doing the peer review helped me figure out what ethnography is but unfortunately for my proposed research I can not use that method. So I feel as though I am back to square one. I have a clear idea of what my research is, but I am still am looking for that edge or 'frame' as Luker calls it.

I think I am going to have to use a mixed-method approach and after attempting to read Knight I am not sure how to feel about this approach. His pragmatic and often dry explanations did not help ease my confusion and just aggravated me. So I feel as though I am back at the beginning when I did not even know what a research method is. Hopefully after the lecture tomorrow I will feel less aggravated and be able to focus on the principles that Luker and Knight were discussing instead of all the work I still have to do for my research proposal.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Hey everyone.

I came across this really novel method called a questerview. Its not even in the dictionary!!! Basically what it is is the combination of questionnaires (e.g. the kind used in quantitative studies) and interviews (e.g. the kind used in qualitative research). How it works is that respondents are tape-recorded as they complete a questionnaire and are asked questions relating to their understanding of the terms in the questionnaire.  The data collected from questerviews would be so informative and rich compared to questionnaires alone. 

So what a neat idea for strengthening a study against validity threats and using qualitative and quantitative methods in tandem. This idea is just brilliant if you ask me.      

Check out this site for more details:

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have to begin by saying that Hine’s piece confused the heck out of me. Maybe its because I am dizzy from writing so many papers, I’m not quite sure though. Nevertheless, here is my interpretation. Please clarify me if I’m wrong:
The Internet is a conduit for complex social interaction. Consequently, the meanings generated by this medium will be complex and hard to decode. In other words, like in any situation, the sender’s information will be interpreted by the receiver in a way that conforms to his or her own sense of reality, except the internet is not any situation. The internet is a sender-receiver situation multiplied by the tens of millions and with a global reach. How do we as social scientists begin to decode such messages? Where do we begin? What are our boundaries? I think Hine is right to suggest that the first step is to develop a “reflexive” methodology for defining our boundaries?????. Having fixed boundaries around such complex and interwoven “sites” (which transcend the offline-offline divide) would be too limiting. So I think the main point in Hine is that when defining the boundaries of online research, reflexivity is paramount??? Please help. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finding boundaries

Reading Hine’s article helped me to think about defining boundaries in my research study, however it is not an easy task.
When I think about my research, it is somehow ethnography/culturally related. One aspect of developing and planning adult programmes in the library is to know the cultures of the community and their expectations.
Finding demographic data is very helpful in general but to get it in a more pertinent domain we have to come up with creative ideas and topics. Then, we must put them into work using different methodology (surveying or interviewing) and collecting data from individual members, community outreach and various organizations.


The Possibilities..

I found the article The untapped potential of virtual game worlds to shed light on real world epidemics by Eric T Lofgren and Nina H Fefferman to be extremely interesting. I have never been one for gaming. I get too frustrated and have never been interested enough to learn. However, I have always enjoyed watching others game because they were actually good. I spent my childhood watching my brother play, which suited him fine because he never had to share the controller. This was all before online gaming, which opens up a new world, both for the players and for researchers. Not only can researchers observe how the game is played but also can now observe how players all around the world interact.

The case study of the World of Warcraft and the Corrupted Blood epidemic is now offering researchers a new arena to study human responses to epidemics without having to actually be infected. I can remember vividly the news reports from the SARS epidemic and the H1N1 epidemic last year. The images of people wearing masks, attempting to escape 'hot zones' of contamination were very real. And to think, these real life reactions to epidemics could be replicated in an online world is amazing. The fact that this was also unplanned, led to the very real reactions of the gamers. As the authors state, for many of the gamers this virtual world is a very real part of their own worlds. (p. 627) I think that there are endless opportunities for researchers to use online worlds to replicate real world scenarios and issues such as epidemics. Since the article was published in 2007, I wonder if any researchers have begun to devise plans to complete research in online worlds.

Validity and Originality

Is it possible for a completely original qualitative method or measure to be valid? I have been toying with this question because I have been rethinking validity in general, having bungled the matter somewhat in my peer review, and because I have been wondering about the legitimation of methods and measures.

The more I think about validity, the more I think that conventional validation is really a matter of social process. Measures are valid when other people—subjects, peers, reviewers—agree that they are valid. Construct validity is an obvious example. Knight maintains that you have construct validity when you operationalize a measure in a such a way that it is acceptable to other people (p. 136). You are investigating what you set out to investigate because other people agree with your description of the concept. Face validity seems to be similar. Presumably, face validity increases with the number of people who agree that your measures are valid. Content validity, too, depends on some kind of agreement about the capacity of your questions to get at the domain or dimensions of the concept. In each case validation seems to be a matter of fitting your research into a social consensus about the relationship between a measure and a concept. Here's how one researcher put the matter:

[Mishler] starts from the process of validating (instead of from the state of validity) and defines "validation as the social construction of knowledge", by which we "evaluate the 'trustworthiness' of reported observations, interpretations, and generalizations". Finally, "reformulating validation as the social discourse through which trustworthiness is established elides such familiar shibboleths as reliability, falsifiability, and objectivity" (qtd. in Flick, An introduction to qualitative research, pp. 226-227).

So what happens when you use a method or measure in an unconventional way or, more to the point, if you invent a method or measure from scratch? Clearly, you no longer enjoy as much social approval as a more conventional researcher. Does that mean that your findings will be invalid? No. It does mean that your research may have to be the catalyst for a new or revised social consensus. The tricky part is that your findings may be the only things that justify the validity of your research. In other words, you may have to do all of the research in order to prove that your approach was valid. However, you're not alone. I suspect that a lot of qualitative researcher use their findings to justify their design. Hine implied as much at the conclusion of her article in Internet inquiry. She wrote that "the key recourse has to be the dialogues in which the study is able to engage: If we can do studies [. . .] that say something interesting and that advance debate [. . .], then our studies will have some claim to adequacy" (p. 18-19). I can imagine David Gauntlett saying something similar about Serious Play. Knight calls this a "post-structuralist" view of validity (p. 135). But I think that we distort the discussion of research methods when we posit this kind of validation as an exception to the norm. Instead, it is better to think of it as producing the norm. To my mind, the various discourses of validity reflect something like the Kuhnian model of scientific progress, a dialectic between paradigm and disruption.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

virtual communities

I have been thinking a lot about the pros and cons of virtual communities. I am coming at my research proposal from a perspective where I believe that the replacement of offline communications with online communications has a negative impact on the ways we construct our identities and the way we maintain relationships. That being said, after reading Bakadjieva & Feenberg's case study, I realized how complex the issue really is. Seeing virtual communities as having a democratizing effect makes it difficult to criticize them. The user can encounter others (the communities) in their own terms. I know that there are many positive aspects to online communities. I just feel that replacing offline communication with online, or just using it as a primary means of communication through tools such as facebook gives the illusion that friendships are being maintained. There seems to be a level of superficiality that people must accept and willingly participate in, in order to be relevant.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What is the secret of creativity?

           Based on today’s lecture and assigned readings, I would like to make two quick remarks (This time more optimistic than some of my previous posts). First, it may sound simple enough, but I found the discussion on the case-study APPROACH extremely valuable, in part due to the clarification that it is not a “method” of social science. I feel that this clarification is very important, for me anyway, because now I think I understand correctly, simply put, that the case study approach is used to facilitate the use of certain methods (or something like that). Maybe the metaphor of the case study as the fry-pan, the methods as the ingredients, and the end-product as the findings is appropriate? Well I tried anyway.      
            The second point that I wanted to make was how the reading and discussion of Pinch & Bijker’s (1987) (wow that’s old by the way, which I guess speaks to the durability of their ideas) social construction of technology  approach or “SCOT” just really opened my imagination to a plethora of research ideas (which I don’t have the space to talk about right now). I guess one way to summarize my day was that I was exposed to the wonders of “approaches” to social science, not to be confused with methods :)  

By the way, I couldn't think of a title so I decided to use the opening of a “joke”, which the answer is: “knowing how to hide your sources” –Albert Einstein  

AHA Moment!

As some of my previous posts have discussed, I have been having some anxiety as to what method I am going to use for my proposed research. I feel as though I know very little about the methods which is very frustrating and disconcerting. However, I had an AHA moment today in class when we were talking about case studies and research strategies. While I still felt completely lost and frustrated when we were discussing SCOT, when we briefly discussed the histories research strategies I got really excited. I finally found a strategy and group of methods that I will be able to use for my proposed research. I hope to learn more about this method soon and am starting to feel a little better about my research proposal.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Case Study

Case study is a good way for comparison. But we have to keep in mind that there should be general inclination to be able to apply it to our subject. Also, case study is a good practice to look at the problems in a different way and it will give us a chance to review, compare, evaluate and make better decisions for our own topic.

In my particular research, case study could be used to find out about varies adult programmes that is offered to the libraries with similar size population.

Falling over the line

I felt as though I couldn't do another thing today, extra hour notwithstanding, but the blog called... It's a good discipline though, I do find that having to write my thoughts compels a certain amount of orderly thinking, at least in theory.

Earlier today heard a CBC program on gaming -- reminded me of the discussion we started in class a few weeks ago, about the effect of video games on children. What about adults? These game masters and developers are suggesting that"gamification" is the next cultural definer (?) after Facebook. The concepts under discussion went from the role of cognitive psychology and ethics in gaming --motivation v. manipulation -- to whether game design is an art form. Also apparently the industry/field needs more diversity. I'd be interested to learn more about this, especially after reading Boellstorff''s paper.

I have not read the articles for this week. But I'm looking forward to class anyway, if only to drop off the review! which became a torture to finalize. Hope you all had an easier time with yours.

Monday, November 1, 2010

interpretation and coding

I found that Thomas' 'Artifactual study in analysis of culture in the postmodern age' was very useful in clarifying the distinction between the limits of communication and interpretation as an extension of those limits. He questions how direct any method is in the debate between artifactural analysis vs. methods that have been perceived as more direct; such as interviewing and ethnography. He thinks that verbals responses are also texts to be subject to inference and interpretation. This does not mean that they cannot have validity, which is why he makes the important distinction between coding and interpretation. This will be a helpful way to think about validity in the article i chose for my peer review assignment because coding is an important way in which many people organize data so to not risk 'interpretational pluralism'. It doesn't mean that coding will always be done well or that it shouldn't be assessed on an individual basis, but it certainly increases the validity of a study if there are many people who can agree that particpants(' responses) fall into certain categories without dispute.