[CITASA] seeking suggestions about research methodology for online forums

el don eldon at gol.com
Tue Mar 2 01:49:53 EST 2010

a late entry but perhaps of interest.

as a linguist studying written interaction, i found sandra harrison's 
work to be readable and relevant. our focus is not so much on 
automatic data mining, but on what goes on in groups where 
interaction occurs via language (and other modalities at times). one 
of her papers outlines an approach that can be used to represent both 
the posts in chronological order and who posted them ... it's a 
simple framework (lots of manual labour i'm afraid), but it works 
very well to show in summary what has been going on in long 
multi-party discussions.

it's in a collection looking at communities of practice:
Harrison, S. (2003) "Computer-mediated interaction: Using discourse 
maps to represent multi-party, multi-topic asynchronous discussions" 
in Sarangi, S. & T. van Leeuwen: Applied Linguistics and Communities 
of Practice.

the book can be viewed via google books, and most of the chapter can 
be read online.


At 8:14 PM -0600 25/2/10, Tim Hale wrote:
>Hi everyone,
>I am working with others on a project that will examine health 
>communication among members of an online community who post to an 
>online forum. We have three primary goals: (1) to conduct a content 
>analysis to understand the types of health information that is 
>communicated; (2) identify the context of the discussions, including 
>understanding the characteristics of the individuals who initiate 
>and disseminate health information; and (3) to conduct a social 
>network analysis to examine the larger structures of health 
>information sharing among community members.
>Although this type of research could be conducted by manually 
>collecting posts from the online forum, coding for content, and the 
>creation of a data set for social network analysis -- we are 
>interested in other approaches that make better use of the forum 
>database files. We have the cooperation of the website owner and 
>administrator to access the MySQL database.
>I am seeking advice from anyone with experience working on similar 
>research questions involving online forums and especially, making 
>use of the original forum database files. All recommendations, 
>suggestions, and pointers to articles, books, and appropriate tools 
>are welcome and greatly appreciated.
>Thank you,
>Tim Hale
>Timothy M. Hale, MA
>University of Alabama at Birmingham
>Department of Sociology
>Heritage Hall 460E
>1401 University Boulevard
>Birmingham, AL 35294-1152
>205.222.8108 (cell)
>timhale at uab.edu

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