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Researchers must collect and analyse new data that will enhance the body of knowledge. It is for this reason that data is of major importance to researchers. All aspects of a research project involve data, from navigating existing data, to understanding how data is used in the world and why it is important to learn to collect data and make predictions. Researchers need to consider the types of data that are possible and examine and weight each option so they can determine what sources of data will answer the research questions or hypotheses.
Researchers, who require a large amount of participants to contribute to their data collection and assist in their research, are limited in the choice of current research methods including questionnaires, postal surveys and online surveys and also limited in the number of respondents they can obtain to participate in their research.
This dissertation proposes a new research method through the use of Social Networking Sites (SNS’s). It aims to evaluate and investigate if SNS’s are a feasible method for conducting research and collecting data. SNS’s offer researchers the potential to reach millions of people worldwide quickly and at a low cost. Facebook currently ranked as the second most popular website worldwide has over 400 million active users. MySpace has over 130 million. The majority of the world’s highest ranked SNS’s today provide a developer platform for people to create their own applications. Also within this dissertation is an exploration and investigation into the rational of using SNS’s as a research method through the development of a prototype application integrated with Facebook services.
Redmond, Fiona:Social Networking Sites: Evaluating and Investigating their use in Academic Research. Dissertation. Dublin Institute of Technology, 2010.