Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

"Tackling the Difficult:" A Review of Janet Salmons' Doing Qualitative Research Online

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

"Tackling the Difficult:" A Review of Janet Salmons' Doing Qualitative Research Online

Article excerpt

Researchers are increasingly utilizing online data in completing and broadening the scope of their work. Janet Salmons has authored a guide for novice researchers on appropriate methodologies, data collection, and analysis procedures for pursuing qualitative online research. Keywords: Online, Qualitative Research, Academia and the Internet

Noted scholar Noam Chomsky once argued, "The internet could be a very positive step towards education, organization and participant in a meaningful society." It is impossible to deny the connectivity of the Internet. Few people have no connection to the online world. In academia, the Internet poses challenges for accuracy in research as well as offering a new avenue to pursue inquiry. Janet Salmons has tackled the difficult subject of online qualitative research in a succinct yet admirable book - Doing Qualitative Research Online.

Divided into three parts, Salmons delves into the complex world of online research by framing three key concepts: the qualitative framework, ethical considerations when conducting online qualitative research, and collecting data. All three sections explain the purpose, process, and product of online qualitative research.

The first section of this study outlines the types of online data available to the qualitative researcher. Salmons states: "While many conventional methods can be adapted and adopted to research conducted online, new thinking and emergent approaches are called for that make use of the unique forms of exchange and data retrieval possible online" (p. 3). By clarifying what "conventional methods" are available to the researcher, Salmons presents a foundation to the reader to understand the opportunities for qualitative researchers to use online data to collect data.

Salmons adds to the foundation of online qualitative research she established in the first section of the study by elucidating how researchers must approach their work ethically. She writes "at its simplest research ethics can be defined as the responsibility of the researcher toward others, including society broadly, other scholars, and most importantly those whose attitudes, behaviors, and experiences we are studying" (p. 58). Importantly, Salmons distinguishes "internet research ethics" from "traditional" qualitative research as having unique demands on the researcher. These characteristics include: the protection of human subjects, informed consent, respecting a research site, and the protection of data and participant identities. …

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