What is online Research?
Online research is a research method that involves the collection of information from the internet. With the advent of the internet, the traditional pen-and-paper research techniques have taken a backseat and made room for online research. Online survey research is much more impactful than the traditional means, considering the ease of access and cost savings they come with. The response rates received for online research are much higher than the others as the respondents are assured that their identity will be protected.
Research Methods and Techniques:
Researchers and statisticians collect data from respondents using various online research techniques. They are often called internet research or web-based research methods. Many of these research methods are already being used in one way or the other but are being revived for the online mediums. The latest in this line of online research methods is social media research as it offers extended levels of complexities and thus, new avenues for research are created.
There are 5 such online research methods which are extensively used by researchers due to the precise nature of the offered results.
-Online focus group: A subset of the online research techniques, online focus groups are methods usually used for B2B research, consumer research and political research. A moderator is assigned to conduct and supervise the focus group who invites pre-selected and qualified participants who represent a specific area of interest to be a part of this focus group at a particular time. The respondents are usually incentivized for being a part of the discussion that usually is an hour and 90 minutes.
-Online interview: This online research method is quite similar to the face-to-face interviews yet different in terms of the required standard practices, understanding with respondents and sampling. Online interviews are organized using various computer-mediated communication (CMC), essentially, SMS or Email. On the basis of the response time for these interviews, they’re classified into synchronous and asynchronous methods. Synchronous online interviews are carried out via mediums such as online chat, where the responses are received in real-time while asynchronous online interviews are those that happen over Email where the responses are usually not in real-time.Just like face-to-face interviews, the online interviews probe into respondent thoughts and feedbacks about a particular topic to get insights into their experiences, ideas or attitudes.
-Online qualitative research: Other than the mainstream online focus groups and online interviews, there are various aspects of online qualitative research. These aspects include blogs, mobile diaries, and communities. These methods contribute towards cost and time savings and are supremely convenient for the researchers to gather information for their research topics.The level of sophistication that online qualitative research methods bring to the table is superior to any other traditional forms as the respondents can be either recruited from existing databases, panels or can be added by conducting surveys.
-Online text analysis: This analysis technique is an extension of text analysis which exists since the 17th century which is a collection of various online research examples used to derive insights from content available online. By using this online research technique, researchers can explain penned, verbal or graphic communication formats.Categories such as web pages, paragraphs, sentences, quasi-sentences, documents, etc. It is most often used for quantitative research but for better interpretation of the text, researchers also use qualitative techniques.
-Social network analysis: Social network analysis is an emerging online research technique which is gaining acceptance due to the increased adoption of social networking platforms.By conducting social network analysis, a researcher can map and measure flows and relationships between people, organizations, URLs, groups or computers using graph theory. For instance, the latest meme culture has developed new social structures in which the people associated are termed as “nodes” and memes are the “links” between these nodes.
Online Research Advantages:
-Access to data across the globe: Internet is an elaborate platform for researchers to invest their time in retrieving crucial information that would otherwise consume a lot of their time. It is very easy for them to conduct research even if they’re lazing on their couch and have a deadline coming up.
-Minimum investment of time and resources: The online mediums have become the numero uno resort for individuals to look up for information to broaden their horizon of knowledge. There’s information being updated day in and day out and researchers latch onto this information for their benefits. It has eased the process of publishing and collecting information and thus, saves a lot of time and money.
-Central pool of facts and figures: Researchers and statisticians keep searching for updated information on various important topics, students search the internet for academic purposes and this is the greatest edge the internet offers.
-Capable tool for collecting information: Surveys, questionnaires, and polls are being conducted via online mediums like emails or QR codes or embedded on the website etc. to gather or spread vital information.