Direct Connect: Blogs & Research

Direct Connect: Blogs & Research

I presented “Direct Connect: Blogs & Research,” a webinar as part of the IT4ALL free Spring Blog Fest @ITforALL. You can view the presentation here.

Here is the article I discussed:
Shorter, better, faster, free: Blogging changes the nature of academic research, not just how it is communicated” by Patrick Dunleavy

Here are the blogs I highlighted:


Social Research Methods for a Social Age?

Social Research Methods for a Social Age?

Social Media in Social Research is an e-book assembled by the UK NatCen. It brings together short pieces by a global group of scholars, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Hear from some of the authors here: and find the e-book on Amazon at

I am pleased to be a part of this innovative project! My chapter, “Online Research Ethics: Questions Researchers Ask, Answers Guidelines Provide” is the result of an in-depth qualitative study of our network members’ ethical dilemmas and an analysis of research ethics codes to see whether and how they address social media and online research. I’ve posted a list of codes and resources. Here is a short introduction to my chapter: 

I hope that after you read the book you will join in the network activities. I’ve posted information about coming Tweetchats. The next one is on November 17, on “Ready, set, research!: accessing funds and data.”


Qualitative Online Interviews: Online Book Launch Events

Free webinars, discussions and tweetchats about using e-interviews in research.

Qualitative Online Interviews is now available in May from Sage Publications or your favorite bookseller. A series of online events will celebrate this book launch with far-reaching dialogue and exchange. See a video introduction to the new book and find more information posted on this site, including sample course outlines with assignments and learning activities ready for you to adapt to the needs of your own classes. For a limited time, you can use this Online Interviews Promo discount from Sage for Qualitative Online Interviews and/or Online Interview Research.

Free Synchronous & Asynchronous Events!

  • Online Interviews for Active Online Learning: Free webinar with IT4ALL
     June 7 at 11 AM EST Integrating Technology for Active Lifelong Learning, or IT4ALL founder Dr. Nellie Deutsch contributed to Cases in Online Interview Research. IT4ALL offers professional development and exchange for educators who use online technologies.
  • e/merge Africa Events,  July 21-25: Use What You Have: Online, Hybrid and Low-Bandwidth Option  Details TBA. e/merge is an educational technology network that offers professional development and exchange for educators and students throughout Africa.

Learn more and keep in touch!

“This book is ahead of its time. It tackles the complicated matter of merging technology with research in a rather lucid manner.” —David Lee Carlson, Arizona State University

“The text is an excellent example for providing effective and efficient instruction. Learners can easily navigate the various components, and it can be used for self-study. . . . Marvelous depth of coverage on the online interview process. It is at the leading edge of thinking in the field of e-research.” —Anne-Marie Armstrong, Colorado Technical University

“[This is] a very thoughtful and engaged text on very important 21st century issues. Concepts, even very difficult ones, are explained clearly and gracefully.”—Laura J. Hatcher, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Follow me on @einterview, Linked In or Facebook for event announcements. 

Tag Cloud for Qualitative Online Interviews manuscript
Tag Cloud for Qualitative Online Interviews manuscript

ICQI: Resources & Materials

If you are looking for the resources I discussed in the Politics and Ethics of Qualitative Online Research you have come to the right place!

  • My report about ethics issues in online research and ethics codes, and the report about social media users’ perspectives, are both posted here. You can also view a short recording of my overview of the report:

  • A resource list of ethics codes, guidelines and statements that include discussion of online research ethics can be found here. Additional materials are posted here.
  • A collection of “E-Research Tips” are posted here, including one on informed consent with a link to a sample consent agreement.
Webinar: See, Share, Create: Visual Methods for Online Interviews

Webinar: See, Share, Create: Visual Methods for Online Interviews


View a recording of the webinar!

It was recorded, in case you missed it. View here. We’ll share related conversation on the SCoPE community forum. Please post your thoughts, question, resources  and examples.

My new book Qualitative Online Interviews includes an entire chapter on visual methods in online interview research and a Typology of Online Visual Interview Methods.

See this YouTube video for an introduction: Visual Online Interviews.

Defining our terms: What is “social media”?

Originally posted on the New Social Media, New Social Science NSMNSS blog.

Sometimes we communicate by using a few words as a kind of shorthand for big ideas:we know what we mean. Or at least we assume we have a common conception for what we mean when we use certain words, based perhaps on a shared experience of the phenomenon. But when we try to enlarge the conversation and explain it to someone else with whom we do not share experiences or frames of reference, we must be more precise. I believe we are at such a point with some of the words we commonly use. To include and engage others beyond the early adopters and true believers of online research, we may need to build a common language.

As a case in point, last spring NSMNSS conducted a questionnaire about ethical issues in social media research. Using the narrative option many respondents posted concerns about what they perceived as a lack of understanding of online research generally at their institutions and out-of-date guidance from their faculty, dissertation supervisors and institutions. It would seem important to include such scholars and academics in our conversations so they can become more knowledgeable about emerging research methods and topics—and thus better able to guide the next generation of researchers.

How we can begin to more clearly define terms we commonly use? Let’s begin by thinking about that the term social media means. I discovered just how challenging that task might be when I looked for a clear definition to cite for an article I was working on last week.

Some writers conflate “social media” with “Facebook and Twitter”(Baptist et al., 2011;Gibson, 2013; Grose, 2012). This seems inadequate to me for several reasons: Facebook and Twitter are brand names for commercial platforms designed with the unabashed goal of profit for their shareholders. They are not neutral spaces. As well, businesses and brand names change. Other platforms exist and new ones are emerging. What criteria will we use to determine whether those platforms can be described as “social media”?

Some scholars differentiate social media from other online platforms or Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) by describing characteristics. Social media is characterized by the ability of users to create, store, and retrieve user-generated content  (Benbunan-Fich, 2010). The focus is on the user as producer (Bechmann & Lomborg, 2013) who generates content in various forms—including video, images, text, and geospatial data (Schreck & Keim, 2013). The producer of content interacts with readers:  “effective social media use requires engagement with the audience” (Bik & Goldstein, 2013, p. 5) and readers are t, who themselves producers of content “thus blurring the distinctions between audience and producer as a means to create a distinct form of textual production that draws on both roles”(Meyers, 2012, p. 1023).

Given these descriptions and characterizations, is an email list “social media”? It is interactive and users generate content that can be retrieved. What about a virtual world—where users generate spaces, artifacts and events that engage others, and can be revisited or “retrieved.” In a web conferencing or videoconferencing space users can meet to generate and share content that can be saved and later retrieved. Wikis? Threaded discussion forums? Are they all “social media” or is there a more granular distinction missed in the extant definitions and descriptions?

How do you define the term—and what ICTs would you include or exclude from your conception of “social media”? Use the comment area, or respond to this 5-question survey.

Baptist, A. P., Thompson, M., Grossman, K. S., Mohammed, L., Sy, A., & Sanders, G. M. (2011). Social messaging, text messaging and email-preferences of asthma patients between 12 and 40 years old. Journal of Asthma, 48(8), 824-830. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2011.608460

Bechmann, A., & Lomborg, S. (2013). Mapping actor roles in social media: Different perspectives on value creation in theories of user participation. New Media & Society, 15(5), 765-781. doi: 10.1177/1461444812462853

Benbunan-Fich, L. (2010). Use of social media in disaster situations: Framework and cases. International Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, 2(1), 11-13.

Bik, H. M., & Goldstein, M. C. (2013). An Introduction to social media for scientists. PLoS Biology, 11(4). doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001535

Gibson, D. (2013). Dodging the effects of the big bang: collaborating securely in the cloud. Computer Fraud & Security, 2013(2), 7-9. doi:

Grose, T. (2012). Early symptoms. ASEE Prism, 21(8), 16.

Meyers, E. A. (2012). ‘Blogs give regular people the chance to talk back’: Rethinking ‘professional’ media hierarchies in new media. New Media & Society, 14(6), 1022-1038. doi: 10.1177/1461444812439052

Salmons, J. (2014). Putting the “E” in entrepreneurship: Women entrepreneurs in the digital age. In L. Kelley (Ed.), Entrepreneurial Women: New Management and Leadership Models. Westport: ABI-Clio Praeger.

Schreck, T., & Keim, D. (2013). Visual analysis of social media data. Computer, 46(5), 68-75. doi: 10.1109/MC.2012.430