The potential of the Internet as a valuable methodological tool for social science research is increasingly being recognised. This paper contributes to the debate surrounding virtual synchronous interviews and the value of online research. Specifically it introduces the use of a software conferencing technique - Hotline Connect - and discusses the implications of using the technique for Internet- based research. In particular issues of interview design, developing rapport, the role of insiders and outsiders in the research process, language use and the virtual interface are considered. The paper draws on the experience of a recent research project entitled ‘Cyberparents’ and concludes that the use of conferencing software holds great potential for synchronous online interviewing. However, this must be combined with sensitive, ethical handling of both the research process and the data to overcome both the weaknesses of this particular method and those inherent in any interviewing situation.
Sociological Research Online – SAGE
Published: May 1, 2004
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