Fabiola Baltar, PHD
Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata- Argentina
[email protected]
Ignasi Brunet Icart, PHD
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Tarragona- Spain
[email protected]
Many activities take place daily in an “online” reality,
where individuals act and express thoughts, intentions
and opinions about events related with their “real”
world (e-commerce; e-banking; e-learning, etc).
However, the question about whether Internet can be
a viable scientific research tool is still under discussion.
WHAT ABOUT
RESEARCH ...?
We consider that Internet opens new ways to
investigate
in
social
and
behavioural
sciences
because there are many scientific questions that do
not look for generalized results but representative
ones. For example:
“HARD TO REACH” POPULATION SAMPLING
@ We propose to apply Social Networking Sites (Facebook) and
online questionnaires to contact Argentinean entrepreneurs
living in Spain.
@ The characteristic of this target population is that 60 % live in
Spain as European citizens. This group is not administratively
visible in Spanish Statistics as Argentinean population, so it is
impossible to build a sample frame to obtain a probabilistic
sample.
@ The novelty of the study is the incorporation of Facebook and
online questionnaires to improve the efficacy of the snowball
sampling and data collection.
ADVANTAGES OF USING ONLINE METHODOLOGIES
@ Flexibility (e.g. language) and time-efficiency (collect/process data).
@ Questionnaires are more attractive and easier to use.
@ Respondents can answer at a convenient time for themselves.
@ Researcher instantaneously has all the data stored in a data base.
@ Surveys can include all kinds of questions (dichotomous, scales, etc.).
@ Lower costs.
@ It is easier to follow-up non respondents.
@ Respondents answer in the order intended by the study designer.
@ Respondents answer only questions that are specifically design to
them.
DISADVANTAGES OF USING ONLINE METHODOLOGIES
@ The perception that it is a “spam” email affects non response rate.
@ Selection bias related with internet population (gender, age, etc.).
@ The sample selection methods are “volunteer” samples.
@ Respondent lack of online experience
@ Unclear answering instructions because they are self-administered.
@ Impersonal, there is usually no human contact in online surveys.
@ Privacy related with how data will be used.
THE CASE: Virtual Snowball applied to the study of
immigrants entrepreneurs in Spain (recruiting sample)
@ We explored 52 virtual groups
@ We contacted their members
sending them private messages
@ We extended the sample size,
asking each member if they knew
anyone else (online or offline
contact).
@ We obtained 1103 responses
(53.2%), of which 343 were
entrepreneurs (31%).
@ An online questionnaire was sent
to these entrepreneurs, of whom
214 answered (62.3%).
Sample
Response
Non response
TOTAL
Facebook snowball sampling
1023 (53,6%)
887 (46,4%)
1910 (100%)
Traditional snowball sampling
80 (49,1%)
83 (50,9%
163 (100%)
1103
970
2073
TOTAL
The response rate and representativeness of the sample
Sample * (99% significance)
Response
Non response
TOTAL
Facebook snowball sampling
154 (77%)
46 (23%)
200 (100%)
Traditional snowball sampling
60 (42%)
83 (58%)
143 (100%)
214
129
343
TOTAL
REGION
ANDALUCÍA
ARAGÓN
ASTURIAS
ISLAS BALEARES
ISLAS CANARIAS
CANTABRIA
GALICIA
GRANADA
CASTILLA LA MANCHA
CATALUÑA
EXTREMADURA
MADRID
MURCIA
NAVARRA
PAÍS VASCO
LA RIOJA
CEUTA
MELILLA
VALENCIA
NON RESPONSE
TOTAL
POPULATION
15.38%
1.37%
1.49%
8.23%
6.94%
0.61%
5.71%
1.86%
1.61%
23.49%
0.43%
14.5%
1.42%
0.72%
1.98%
0.5%
0%
0%
13.63%
290.281
SAMPLE
14%
1.86%
0%
8.87%
0.93%
0%
4.20%
0%
0.46%
23.36%
0.46%
26.63%
1.40%
0%
0.93%
0%
0%
0%
14%
3.73%
214
Online survey and the quality of information
INSTANT
COLLECTION
CONTROL
@ 24 HOURS ACCESS
@ FILTER QUESTIONS
@ INSTANT CONTACT IN CASE OF
ABANDON OR WRONG ANSWERS
@ OBTEIN THE RESULTS WHILE THE DATA
ARE COLLECTED
DATA
CONCLUSION
@ We conclude that using Facebook to explore hard to reach population
(Argentinean entrepreneurs in Spain) can save time and costs, extent the
size of the sample and the geographical scope of the study.
@ It is important to consider that virtual research needs to apply the same
methodological steps to guarantee the scientific rigor and validation.
@ Virtual networks are dynamic (e.g. people enter and exit the net;
information is temporally online). It necessary to define time boundaries for
the data collection, build the sample frame with information of the units of
observation and save the documentation that supports the research results.
CONCLUSION
We believe that online research can be as serious as online
transactions, political campaigns or learning courses are. Scientific
social research understands reality and its changes. Nowadays it is
impossible to understand human behaviour and its context without
taking account of this virtual reality.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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the use of facebook in social research. the virtual snowball