[Air-L] Viral email dissemination as a sociological research

Katie Morrissey kem82 at georgetown.edu
Mon May 12 07:53:48 PDT 2008

Hi Taryn,

I did something similar for my masters thesis, but I used a mixture of
internet/email outreach, rather than email alone. For promotional tools, I
created several banner images for blog/web posts and a sample email for
participants to use to promote my survey. This is for a masters thesis, so
emphasis on the "pilot" in pilot study, but the approach was very successful
for me.

One thing you might consider for measuring who is/is not responding-- and
you may already be doing this-- Survey Monkey allows you to create multiple
unique URLs for your survey which you can track. I used those with each
place I posted information about the survey. It isn't the best guide, but it
does allow you to see which outreach attempts are (or are not) more
successful than others.

They also offer some sort of emailing service (the one using addresses you
provide). This may allow you to watch the survey's movement a little more
carefully, but I didn't use it so I'm not quite sure what it really entails.

- Katie

On Sun, May 11, 2008 at 10:45 PM, <air-l-request at listserv.aoir.org> wrote:

> Date: Sun, 11 May 2008 06:31:08 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Taryn Ferris <tarynferris at yahoo.com.au>
> Subject: [Air-L] Viral email dissemination as a sociological research
>        methodology - some questions
> To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
> Message-ID: <364815.8422.qm at web51409.mail.re2.yahoo.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
> Hi there.
> I'm
> quite new to this listserv and have never posted, but I've been quietly
> imbibing posts for a couple of weeks, and I'd now like to stick my head
> out and ask a few questions...
> I'm currently analysing the
> results from a small (pilot) online research project I have conducted,
> and to date, I have not been able to locate anyone within the field of
> sociology in particular who is using similar online methodologies. I'm
> wondering if there's any of you out there who can point me in the right
> (or any!) direction...
> Broadly, I have utilised viral or
> community email dissemination to recruit research participants, and in
> doing so have tried to go some way to addressing issues of
> researcher/researched power relations (in theory!) by relying on
> participant-led take-up. I have created a survey via Survey Monkey and
> have placed the link in an email that I have sent to all those within
> my social network. I have then asked individuals to pass on the email
> (viral or community marketing-style) within their social networks (and
> beyond if possible). Within the survey participants are asked if they
> would like to participate in a further stage of the study which
> requires them to supply an image pertaining to a question posed in the
> survey. Take-up of this second stage, is of course, once again,
> entirely optional and participant-led.
> Forgive
> me all you scholarly techies out there - I am very new to internet
> research, and really no expert at all on internet technologies, so you
> may find my explication below lacking in net-savvy understanding or
> terminology. I am first and foremost a sociologist who is interested in
> employing internet technologies as a methodology for qualitative
> sociological research.
> Within this pilot early analysis shows
> the methodology has been reasonably successful with around 70% of
> survey take-up *not* originating from emails that I originally
> disseminated. Nonetheless it definitely has its drawbacks - one major
> one being that there is no way (that I'm aware of, and by reading your
> posts over the last few weeks I believe it is a drawback of online
> research in general - although perhaps something that many of you are
> working to change) of measuring the overall success, or failure, of the
> research in terms of who *does not* respond (ie who the project reaches
> but does not appeal to). One is only aware of the methodological
> success rate because of the impossibility of tracing unsuccessful
> dissemination *beyond* one's original mail-out.
> Anyway,
> I really just wanted to know if any of you were aware of studies
> (published or unpublished) outside the realm of marketing where this
> type of online methodology is being employed...? I'd love to find some
> sociologists experimenting with this methodology, but failing that, any
> research utilising viral dissemination methodologies would be of
> interest!
> Many thanks for you time,
> Taryn.
> --
> Taryn Ferris Hands Project
> c/o Dr. Irene Gedalof
> Course Leader, Women's Studies
> Department of Humanities Arts and Languages
> Room TM214
> London Metropolitan University
> 166-220 Holloway Road
> London N8 OAL
> E: taryn.ferris.hands.project at googlemail.com
"Dishonesty, after all, is just another word for narrative."
-- Judith Halberstam

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