Thursday, July 23, 2009

4.3.1: More on methodologies

When researching E-Primer 4 I was fascinated by the considerable debate about methodology for studying online discourse. In a contribution to ALT-J 17(2), 101-113, Judith Enriquez takes issue with content analysis ("Discontent with content analysis of online transcripts"). Basically, content analysis involves feeding message transcripts into a qualitative research application (Enriquez names NVivo) and assigning codes to different message parts.

Among Enriquez's concerns is that analysing message 'chunks' means that the wood can be missed for the trees. While the data itself might be readily available, it needs to be treated in its overall context and from a number of different levels... in fact, as Enriquez suggests, contextual factors may well be too much for content analysis to be of any use whatsoever. 'Genre' analysis is the approach promoted by Enriquez; I, too, am of the mind that genre is an avenue of extreme importance to online discourse (particularly as it relates to Web 2,0 tools).

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