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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Methodology of social research within the context of e-social science

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.03.00  Social sciences  Sociology   

Code Science Field
S274  Social sciences  Research methodology in science 

Code Science Field
5.04  Social Sciences  Sociology 
Keywords
Social science methodology, Internet research, Web surveys, Qualitative online research, Online collaboration.
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (12)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  30704  PhD Jernej Berzelak  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2014 - 2016  124 
2.  23497  PhD Barbara Brečko  Sociology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  120 
3.  34789  PhD Gregor Čehovin  Sociology  Junior researcher  2013 - 2016  53 
4.  31339  Tina Dolenc  Sociology  Researcher  2015 
5.  23827  PhD Bojana Lobe  Political science  Researcher  2013 - 2016  191 
6.  17913  PhD Katja Lozar Manfreda  Sociology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  181 
7.  38368  Miha Matjašič  Sociology  Researcher  2016  33 
8.  34065  Lija Leonora Miljevec  Criminology and social work  Researcher  2014 
9.  36854  Boštjan Mur    Technical associate  2014 - 2016  12 
10.  27574  PhD Andraž Petrovčič  Sociology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  296 
11.  19505  PhD Damjan Škulj  Sociology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  157 
12.  10155  PhD Vasja Vehovar  Sociology  Head  2013 - 2016  844 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0582  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences  Ljubljana  1626957  40,348 
Abstract
With the rise of the Internet, the interaction between society and information-communication technology (ICT) moved to a new level. This interaction was addressed in various contexts, from social informatics and cyber infrastructure to science, technology and society (STS) studies. The proposed project grew from an e-social science perspective, which refers to the role of new digital communication, collaboration and computational tools in social science research. ICT here integrates all steps of the research process, offering gains in resources, time and quality. The proposed project will explore the place of ICT, its challenges and potential, in social science research. It will focus on social science methodology, particularly on empirical research involving survey data collection. It will analyze key bottlenecks. For example, survey questionnaires are still developed on word processors and exchanged via e-mail. This process is typically separated from web survey software, used only after the questionnaire is developed, and from an online-collaboration environment. On the surface this seems to be a technical problem of underdeveloped software; however, the main project hypothesis is that in order to overcome the implementation obstacles, an e-social science framework should be built to provide conceptual insight into the process behind the integration of ICT in empirical social science research. The project will present new knowledge derived from the following activities: 1. Analysis of ICT usage and online collaboration in empirical social sciences. 2. Qualitative interviews and a survey among researchers (in Slovenia and globally) 3. Case studies of international surveys (the 7EU-VET project and The European Social Survey). 4. Identification of conceptual and usability problems of platforms supporting research processes and online collaboration. 5. Development of a conceptual solution for an e-social science framework in empirical social science research. The project will also adopt its results into a prototype platform to 1. support an entire mixed-mode survey research process: conceptualization, questionnaire development, testing, fielding, data editing and analysis; and 2. integrate the qualitative approaches (mixed methods research). The project synergizes over two decades of internationally recognized interdisciplinary research by the principal investigator in broad areas of (a) social informatics, (b) social science methodology and statistics, including statistics of science and technology, (c) mixed-mode and (d) mixed-methods research, experience with (e) large international empirical projects—including 7EU-VET and The European Social Survey—and (f) developments of web applications (CMS—content management system SISPLET and web survey tool 1KA). The team at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences will be supplemented with the Jožef Stefan Institute Department of Knowledge Technologies, one of world leaders in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data mining, and the Institute of Informatics at the University of Maribor Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, experts in semantic web and online collaboration. The project is expected to contribute to a global breakthrough in ICT integration in the social science research process. The results will also enable practical improvements of empirical e-social science research process with the upgrade of the open source web survey tool (1KA), which is already dominant among Slovenian researchers and is used extensively by government organizations (e.g., the National Health Institute and Statistical Office) and by the general public. This upgrade will also be available in English. It is expected that these conceptual and applied findings will stimulate potential business exploitation, particularly among the companies with which the research group cooperates.
Significance for science
The full integration of modern ICTs within the e-social science research approach is of an extreme conceptual and practical importance. On one hand, the project contributed to basic research of the concept of integrated ICT support to research process in (empirical) social sciences. It also identified and addressed the corresponding barriers that prevent more widespread adoption of ICT. The project thus presents the first systematic, largescale conceptual research on this topic. On the other hand, the social science research profession will benefit from this integration. The current absence of an integrative ICT supported approach actually means that empirical social science research still lacks corresponding (ICT integration) benefits of higher data quality, lower costs and overall faster research process. Within this context, we highlighted the following results: • The results about potentials and existing practices of online collaboration encouraged The understanding of e-social science concept. • The review of current online platforms was the basis for the preparation of the guidelines and good practices for the integrated support to research process. • The conceptualized integration of mixed-methods research provides social science researchers with practical approaches on effective integration of quantitative and qualitative online data collection methods. • The online prototype platform enabled the use of benefits of integrated collaborative online support for online empirical research.
Significance for the country
With respect to importance for the development of Slovenia, the project provided the following added value: • The project results received international recognition: contributions to international conferences, Sage published the monography Web Survey Methodology (Callegaro, Lozar Manfreda and Vehovar), several scientific articles were published by leading scientific journals, and we joint several international projects. These all reinforced the global position of the Slovenian research group CDI (and of Slovenia at the same time). • The members of research group cooperate with researchers of leading institutions in the field (Oxford Internet Institute, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Nebraska, etc.). New research conducted within the project have further strengthened the role of the group for networking and collaboration. • The project activities matched with other activities of the group: o Activities of the “Methods group” of the European Social Survey (ESS). o Project ESS DACE, where the additional methodological experiments (mixed mode designs) were conducted to the 2012 round of ESS. o International project 7EUVET, where empirical work was conducted in seven EU countries with many practical e-social sciences aspects. o General activities of COST action WEBDATANET, WebSM project, Internet Survey Workshop, Nonresponse Workshop. o There is a very close interrelation of the project activities with the programs of social informatics at all three Bologna levels. Results were immediately transferred to pedagogic process. Some experiments were carried out within corresponding courses (e.g. Survey methodology, Research seminar, New technology in social science research, etc.). o Project complements past ARRS (Slovenian Research Agency) project “Information-communication technologies and transformation of survey research in social sciences”, which deals predominantly with algorithms for internal optimisation of the survey process (using paradata), and not with the integration of the survey process components or with its integration into broader research process. o The project has significantly contributed to continuity of the central event at this field, The Web Survey Day, which contributes to the popularization of the profession, as attended by more than 200 participants each year. o The project has contributed also to expand the functionality of open source tool 1KA, which has more than 40,000 users and annually supports the implementation of nearly 2 million online questionnaires in Slovenia.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
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