i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. The first session this afternoon was authored by Dr Leanne Bowler, Professor Heidi Julien and Dr Leslie Haddon (presented by Bowler and Julien): Exploring Youth Information-Seeking Behaviour and Mobile Technologies Through a Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data: Methodological Approaches.
They were exploring methodological issues to do with using secondary data, and implications for information behaviour research. They were reusing data gathered for the project http://netchildrengomobile.eu
They started by defining secondary analysis: i.e. that it is data collected for another project and being reused to address different research questions. There is increasing interest in making more use of data collected with public money etc., so there is more pressure to share data, and growth of repositories.
The data set they were using was funded 2011-2014, and was a sister project to UK Kids Online (which I've blogged about before). The goal of Net Children Go Mobile, was not exploring information behaviour, but rather issues of online risk. The qualitative data, which was used for the project covered in this presentation, is not openly available online, but was made available after the researchers had asked whether it could be reused (permission of the EU project partners had to be sought).
They had 24 transcripts of interviews and focus groups with 34 children. (Also there were transcripts from 5 parents and 17 youth workers etc., not related to this presentation).
In this reanalysis they were seeking evidence of information behaviour, in order to understand how mobile technologies may be changing the way that young people seek and use. They used an inductive approach: two aspects they focused on were evidence of new aspects of info seeking; evidence of confirmation of existing info seeking models.
They found that the data did support some existing models of information seeking online e.g. that speed of access was important to young people; that there was an intersection between social media and information seeking, as shown in previous studies (with info seeking not seen as a separate activity, but part of using social media). In terms of technology affordances in relation to information seeking: there was notable co-searching. For example, information seeking could be a family activity. Serious information seeking was not usually done on a small-screen mobile device, but on larger devices such as laptops and PCs. Visual media (e.g. videos) were used for information. Also, the data plan used by the young person shaped data use and therefore information use. The speaker noted that this raised social equity issues (i.e. for those who couldn't afford aplan with lots of data). Finally "attitudes towards information credibility focused on security issues" e.g. if the site didn't have malware of viruses, they might trust the actual information on the website.
Then the speakers moved on to the challenges of data reuse. It was essential to ensure that ethical permission for re-use has already been granted. The reliability and reputation of the new researchers also should be investigated. It is important that there is a correspondance between the data set and the new research questions (and it may be necessary to explore the data before it is evident what ARE valid research questions that can be answered by the data).
Then there are challenges - or frustrations - to do with the protocols (e.g. wishing they had reworded a question a little; not being able to probe questions with participants). The separation between researchers and participants, which is not usual for qualititative research, means that the research and its participants is more difficult to contextualise. In this situation, there was not a huge gulf between the situation in the country where the data was gathered and the country of those doing the analysis, but it would be more problematic if the setting and population were more distant from those reusing the data.
The presentation was followed by some interesting comments and questions, including the ethical and access issues (concerned with re-use)
Photo by Sheila Webber: St Nicholar Kirkyard, Aberdeen, June 2017