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 •Acquisti, A., & Gross, R. (2006), Imagined communities: Awareness, information sharing, and privacy on the Facebook. In P. Golle & G. Danezis (Eds.), Proceedings of 6th Workshop on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, Cambridge, UK: Robinson College. •Atkinson, R. & Flint, J, (2001), “Accessing Hidden and Hard-to-Reach Populations: Snowball Research Strategies”, Social Research Update, University of Surrey, 33: 1-5. •Boyd, D. 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