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Instant messaging: a novel means of facilitating the participation of hard-to-reach groups in sensitive topic research

Instant messaging: a novel means of facilitating the participation of hard-to-reach groups in... As society becomes ever more reliant on Internet technology for everyday communications, this paper explores the use of instant messaging (IM) in qualitative research. Discussed within the context of sensitive topic research with potentially hidden and hard-to-reach groups, the purpose of this paper is to discuss the value of adaptive and contemporary research approaches which facilitate participation on the terms of the participant.Design/methodology/approachReflecting on the data collection process from the primary authors’ PhD research, this paper critically considers some of the issues raised by IM-facilitated at semi-structured interviews.FindingsThis paper raises a number of issues, including how the perceived depth of participant response is influenced by their brevity, resultant of the space between parties which allows for considered and concise communication. This disconnect, created by the use of technology, also has implications for the power relations between researcher and participant and the ability to identify the non-verbal cues which communicate emotion and sentiment.Originality/valueThis paper highlights that whilst limited in some respects, an IM-facilitated interview provides a unique platform through which hidden and hard-to-reach groups may be empowered to participate in research, which they may usually avoid. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research Journal Emerald Publishing

Instant messaging: a novel means of facilitating the participation of hard-to-reach groups in sensitive topic research

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1443-9883
DOI
10.1108/qrj-06-2020-0061
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

As society becomes ever more reliant on Internet technology for everyday communications, this paper explores the use of instant messaging (IM) in qualitative research. Discussed within the context of sensitive topic research with potentially hidden and hard-to-reach groups, the purpose of this paper is to discuss the value of adaptive and contemporary research approaches which facilitate participation on the terms of the participant.Design/methodology/approachReflecting on the data collection process from the primary authors’ PhD research, this paper critically considers some of the issues raised by IM-facilitated at semi-structured interviews.FindingsThis paper raises a number of issues, including how the perceived depth of participant response is influenced by their brevity, resultant of the space between parties which allows for considered and concise communication. This disconnect, created by the use of technology, also has implications for the power relations between researcher and participant and the ability to identify the non-verbal cues which communicate emotion and sentiment.Originality/valueThis paper highlights that whilst limited in some respects, an IM-facilitated interview provides a unique platform through which hidden and hard-to-reach groups may be empowered to participate in research, which they may usually avoid.

Journal

Qualitative Research JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 23, 2020

Keywords: Technology; Sex work; Hard-to-reach groups; Sensitive topic

References