Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Research Methods in Information" chapters 5 & 6

I'm obviously going to have to step this up if I plan to be done with my "official" review by next Tuesday...sigh...I guess that's what long plane rides are for, right?

Chapter five is called 'Sampling' and details the differences between sampling for a qualitative project and sampling for a quantitative project. She presents and describes a couple of both probability and purposive sampling. The only thing I missed in the first read is the difference between stratified random sampling and cluster sampling. I should know that already but didn't pick up on the differences in the text.

Chapter six is entitled 'Ethics in research' and is very appropriately placed at the end of the first section of the book that provides an overview of basic research and places it in context. Here she covers the basic points of research ethics including informed consent and the difference between annonymity and confidentiality and the importance of making promises that you can keep.

At the end of the first section of the book, I have to say that I'm impressed. Impressed particularly with the sensible organization of the book, it's clear structure, and the exercises at the end of each chapter. If I ever get to teach a research methods course, this is the textbook I'll use.

Random observation: on p. 71-72 she says, "there is an argument that observing people in public places needs no permission or consent as their behavior, by definition, is public and therefore available for all to see, study, and analyze." In theory, I agree with this, but in practice I have to wonder what all those people talking on their cell phones in libraries, airports, grocery stores, and so on would have to say about a researcher who recorded the "public" portion of those conversations for analysis and publication.

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