Week 9: Research Thoughts

I found coming up with a topic for this week’s blogging question really difficult. In the end, I decided to explore some issues and concerns about my research topic. Luckily, I do not have much of a problem worrying about whether the human subjects of my research will want to participate in my study. There will of course be some people who do not want to be involved; however, the majority will likely be willing to fill out surveys and/or take part in an interview.

In general, the people who work with governmental open data to create applications for the broader populations tend to be politically active, especially when it comes to ideas of open access to information and accountability. These people tend to openly discuss what they are doing with the media and would likely be willing to be involved in my study. Additionally, groups that participate in hackathons and other events that involve engaging and creating with open data tend to be open to media and scholarly attention. These are active citizens who really like to discuss what they are doing, which can easily be seen just by looking at the forums in their online communities. If I explain the research that I am doing and they find it interesting or valuable, then I should have no issues finding willing participants. In addition, these groups of people are highly tech savvy and therefore very easy to contact through their various interactions online, either through email or other social media.

That being said, there is the distinct possibility that my perception of these groups could be flawed, or that they do not find my research worth spending their time on. In this case, I would still have access to their rich archives of forum discussions and posts regarding their actions at hackathons, and events.

So, while I have remained relatively relaxed when considering participants, I am concerned about writing a survey. It seems to me that one of the keys to ensuring the quality of a survey might be to have another researcher, or just an intelligent individual, to look over what you have created to avoid those oh-so embarrassing issues that we saw in Glen’s lecture about stats and surveys. Even then, creating a good survey seems to be a very time and energy consuming activity. Obviously the results are worth all the work if the outcome is a well crafted survey that makes it easy for your participants to contribute and provides you with all the answers you need. Still, I find the process intimidating. Do any of you have similar concerns when it comes to the creation of surveys or interview questions?



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