USING ONLINE INSTRUMENTS TO STUDY “HARD TO INVOLVE” POPULATIONS IN SOCIAL RESEARCH
1 Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (ARGENTINA)
2 Universitat Rovira i Virgili (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:In many areas of research, practical issues associated with sampling and data collection are of real concern to researchers. One of the most important methodological issues is the accessibility to the population, both in terms of the willingness to participate of the individuals and the provision of accurate information. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to discuss the use of online instruments to improve the participation of "hard to involve" population and to increase the quality of the data collected. This paper presents the results obtained from the combination of Social Networking Sites (Facebook) with an online questionnaire to study immigrant entrepreneurs in Spain. The hypothesis is that the informal way to contact and the online survey characteristics facilitate the engagement of this population in scientific studies. In order to test the hypothesis, this paper analyses the pattern of answer of 219 entrepreneurs surveyed. A cluster analysis of respondents and type of questions is developed in order to describe the advantages and disadvantages and suggest recommendations for the appropriate use of online instruments. The conclusion is that new technologies can help social researchers to inquiry on units of observation with barriers to access. Moreover, the new technologies can help researchers to tackle some of the limitations associated with the administration of surveys to businessmen (e.g. insufficient time, lack of motivation to answer, the intermediate filters, etc.) and can improve the quality of the information collected (e.g. higher level of response in confidential questions). However, it is acknowledged that ethical and methodological considerations are of great importance in this kind of studies.
Keywords: Online survey, Social Networking Sites, business research, data collection.