Online Communication Settings and the Qualitative Research Process: Acclimating Students and Novice Researchers

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In the last 20 years, qualitative research scholars have begun to interrogate methodological and analytic issues concerning online research settings as both data sources and instruments for digital methods. This article examines the adaptation of parts of a qualitative research curriculum for understanding online communication settings. I propose methodological best practices for researchers and educators that I developed while teaching research methods to undergraduate and graduate students across disciplinary departments and discuss obstacles faced during my own research while gathering data from online sources. This article confronts issues concerning the disembodied aspects of applying what in practice should be rooted in a humanistic inquiry. Furthermore, as some approaches to online qualitative research as a digital method grow increasingly problematic with the development of new data mining technologies, I will also briefly touch upon borderline ethical practices involving data-scraping-based qualitative research.

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