Important: Surveys & Interviews

Greetings all – this is a cross post from the Community Site – I had a question come in about students in INFO 200 interviewing or surveying members of their chosen community. This prompted some discussion amongst the 200 instructors and the chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) on campus. Some important clarifications follow.

Please do not create or utilize any type of data gathering instrument like surveys or formal interviews for any assignments in INFO 200. Those procedures are way out of the scope of the assignments. A survey, for example, opens up issues with privacy and reliability as well as the fact that research with human subjects requires training. We cannot take privacy concerns or breeches lightly or risk any incident where someone can tell who a community member is in any way. When you take INFO 285 Research Methods, you will learn all about various methodologies and insuring the privacy of human subjects. You will learn all about the procedures for surveying, interviewing, and observing human subjects and how you can use direct quotations, qualitative/quantitative data, and more in research projects vetted by IRB.

For now, focus on your research in the scholarly and professional literature concerning the information behaviors of your community and what you can glean by exploring the community-based resources.


4 thoughts on “Important: Surveys & Interviews

  1. René Peña-Govea

    Thanks so much for this. Is the exception our community resource? In order to ascertain how our community members use this resource, are we allowed to ask a community resource person about data they have observed? If not, I find it hard to know how people are using those resources. For my community, especially, there’s hardly any literature in the information sciences realm about them. I’m finding more in Sociology and other Social Sciences, but still, not specific to what I’m researching.

    1. Michael Stephens Post author

      @renepg It would be best no to do any type of interview or ask many questions of anyone directly. The community-based resource can usually be observed first hand as an online forum or other sort of web site, etc. These assignments are meant to be literature based searches and what you can glean from investigating something made by and for the community. For example, you might observe th nature ( not specifics) of posts at a forum such as this and discern the types of information exchanged:

      You could even use the literature on info behavior in virtual spaces to inform your observations. Again, no discernible characteristics should be shared. If the forum is open on the Web, it can be observed.

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