Finding research contacts online
Its common knowledge that there are a lot of difficulties when it comes gaining access to research participants. I personally found it an uphill struggle trying to get access to government officials and organizations. However after 1 research participant, Hugh of HarringayOnline suggested that I sign up to Twitter I was saved (Wikipedia: a free social networking and micro-blogging service, that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length). He also suggested a list of people who are experts or enthusiasts within the area of my research. What happened next was ‘HISTORY’.
I suddenly gained access to the brains of movers and shakers of e-government. And surprisingly, they were more than happy to talk to me. Now, not only my research has gained an army of research participants. It has also done wonders for the development of my research. I was initially stuck in a rut, hitting a brick wall and possibly almost hitting my own head to the wall. But with about 30 contacts on my list (which is considered very few for twitter btw… Update: After 1 week I now have 42 followers) my research has somewhat been resuscitated and given me the most up to date practices currently being implemented in e-government.
With those 30 contacts, I now have access to blogrolls to the most important people in e-government. I am now able to know what stakeholders and enablers are thinking every minute of the day and keep my research as relevant as possible.
Good luck if you choose to try this method!
Liz is a researcher who is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society.