Paradoxes in cyberspace

Date of publication: June 15, 1998


The facility that now exists for conducting qualitative research via the Internet raises a number of key questions to which the conventional qualitative response is negative. This paper deals with three such questions viz.: 1) can qualitative research be conducted successfully without direct face-to-face contact?; 2) can qualitative research be based on text rather than the spoken word?; 3) is there a role for the computer in qualitative analysis of computer-generated text? The paper then describes a joint project conducted by ABM Research and Sprint Canada and concludes that: 1) Internet-based qualitative research can provide greater depth than face-to-face interviewing in certain circumstances; 2) Internet-based qualitative research can provide richer data than face-to-face interviewing; and 3) computer assisted qualitative data analysis may become essential to optimizing the use of the Internet as a qualitative data collection tool.

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