Friday, February 13, 2009

week 6 case studies

Blog Question: What are appropriate purposes of case studies, how are
subjects selected, how is data collected and analyzed, and what kinds of
generalizations are possible?

Case studies are appropriate when the researcher wants to identify new variables and further research questions. Subjects are selected based on the categories (activities, processes, demographics, conversations, etc.) being investigated.

Data is collected based on the setting up and labeling of categories, or conducting a "content analysis." Therefor, coding because very necessary to the process. Generalizations are not actually possible. The data gathered is uniquely specific to the case that is observed and results can only be applied under limited circumstances. Nonetheless, what is learned from a case study is applicable to developing theories of behavior and process for use under similar circumstances. With a case study, practices can be analyzed and manipulated in order to adjust practices for improved research applications. In the humanities and social sciences case studies have proven useful because they offer new data for analysis in human ght endeavors. Case studies are useful in testing pedagogy, especially when they are expanding on previous research questions and applied under the same (or very similar) circumstances.
For this reason, it is important that researchers clearly articulate the characteristics of the subjects and the circumstances under which they are being observed. Data can be collected through interviews that are recorded by notes, and video or audio recordings.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

week 5 IRB

Question: How does conducting research on the Internet impact the ways that researchers must deal with human subjects?

When considering how the internet impacts the ways researchers deal with human subjects, several different considerations should always be taken into account. The first has to do with database privacy. For instance the human genome project has a database of names and identities associated with genetic coding that is completely open source. Of course these subjects have all agreed to have their genes mapped for scientific posterity, but what about those who wish to participate in the mapping project, but wish to keep their information private?

Well, this is a problem. Many people will probably opt out of human subject research for privacy concerns. As this type of information becomes available to the wider public, how can we insure that databases be used and disclosed ethically and responsibly? How will this impact the terms of health insurance and hiring practices?

Also, the chance of involuntary disclosure is likely to increase when internet technology comes into play. The whole question of internet research might challenge our notions of sample accuracy, as study subjects may increasingly draw from self-selecting technologically connected populations. On the other hand, internet research could decrease or eliminate the need for actual subjects altogether, as the potential for online simulation can be tapped into.

It's clear that the internet poses new ethical challenges, that the laws and regulations involving human subjects will have to catch up to as problems are addressed.