Monday, July 24, 2006

Results of the raffle

I finally got around to raffling the 50 euro amazon certificate yesterday - kids helped pick a name out of the hat - all very ceremoniously it has to be said.

And the lucky winner was.......Mick Fealty of Slugger O'Toole congrats to Mick - 'don't spend it all in the one shop'.....

I submitted my final draft - (bit of an oxymoron if you ask me) to DCU today - 2 soft copies and an electronic version. Apparently it gets corrected/marked/OK'd or whatever and then they give the go ahead (or otherwise) to submit hard copies in about a months time. I got confused - (I think it was the 'final draft' bit that did it) and thought the soft copies had to be submitted earlier in July and the hard-bound ones on the 31st July - anyway to cut a long boring story short, I actually ended up submitting early - woohoo!- probably the first time I've ever submitted something early.

Anyway off to catch up with my blog reading and to see if I can track down any family and friends..........

Friday, June 30, 2006

Am busy writing up at the minute having gotten past the 'blank page' phenomenon, just about. Have to have a first draft to my supervisor on Monday. Can see now questions I should have asked and didn't and questions I shouldn't have bothered asking but did, but you live and learn and so says Robson.... "Lessons to be learned from the conduct of the study (remember that you should learn something not only substantially about the topic of the study, but also how to do studies - you are not expected to be perfect, but you are expected to learn)" that gets me off the hook.....but then this is from the same book that quotes the BSA's guidelines on Anti-Sexist Language which recommends rather than using 'man/mankind' use person, people, human beings....ok so far......'manhours' use workhours....hmmm......'forefathers' use ancestors......'master copy', use top copy, original...oh dear.................

Robson, C., 2002, Real World Research, 2nd Edition

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Haven’t blogged for 9 days – probably the longest since I started this blog. I have been so bogged down with analysing the data from the survey. It has taken so much longer than I thought. I reckoned that I would have all the statistics done in a week, but it is now 2 weeks since I started them. The Likert questions (strongly agree, agree etc) have been a nightmare – why did I include so many! – I thought I was nearly finished with the stats yesterday, only to realise that I had overlooked a test I should have carried out, and it has taken me a day and a half to get back to where I thought I was Saturday lunchtime. One step forward and two steps back….As an aside do you know that you are supposed to spell the numbers zero through nine and the numbers 10 and above should be written as numbers…the things I got by without knowing till this age. This latest revelation is courtesy of Psycology with Style.

I have only 1 more question to analyse - the open-ended question “Please give some reasons for why blogging has been slow to catch on in Ireland?” Of course I committed felony number 1 of research - I included a ‘loaded question’ in my survey and on just a cursory look at the responses, 29% of respondents don’t agree that blogging has been slow to catch on. The cursory look also shows that many people feel that poor broadband availability has been a factor in blogging not being more mainstream.

I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog reading either and it’s a very strange sensation. You wonder if you are missing out on some major discussion that you should know about. I used to worry that I was missing out on some major article in the papers on blogging which would be useful for this research, but got to realise fairly quickly that rather than having to scour the papers, an article about blogging would be quickly flagged by someone in the blogosphere. Related to this, do you know if you miss an issue of the Business Post they will post (as in snail mail) one out to you free gratis. Found this out when I tried to get my hands on a copy of the Business Post after Damien flagged an article in the ‘Focus on Cork’ they did a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t find anyone I knew who had the article – This is more a reflection on the sad friendless person that I am after 3 years of this course rather the popularity of the Business Post. Anyway to get back to my falling behind with my blog reading - I’ve missed the whole CJH debate which I’m sure raged. I’m hoping de lads will have been blogging about the World Cup or have been too busy watching it to blog and that I will catch up a bit faster.

I now have over 150 pages of tables, figures and diagrams which I have to start writing about sooner rather than later. My first draft of the whole thing is due in two weeks. In a way it’s just as well the deadline is so close. I reckon there’s a Phd there for someone who has the time and energy. I need to reclaim my weekends. Went to the Yamamori restaurant in Georges Street this evening to celebrate my brother-in-laws birthday. Sadly I nearly had to be dragged kicking and screaming away from my computer under protestation and I was somewhere else most of the time….surrounded by t-tests, and chi-square tests and significant differences. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I was driving (being Father’s day), so couldn’t even fall into my customary glass of wine….but how sad.

I haven’t even gotten around to sorting out the 50 euro Amazon voucher but I will.

Yours....under pressure....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Vital Statistics

Hmmm...would be interesting to see if the title gets me more hits..... Have been neglecting my blog and have been falling behind on my blog reading too - bloglines notifier beeps accusingly at me.....I closed the survey on Sunday after two weeks and have been blogged down in statistics since.

I did a year of statistics *way* back in the early 80's as part of a course I did in another incarnation and one of last years modules - Research Methods - had a significant statistics component. Have to say thank God for Excel's statistical add-ins - Analysis Tookpak and PHStat. You still have to get your head around the concepts, the different tests and assumptions etc, but there is no comparison between the effort involved in doing the computations now compared to working it out on a calculator way back when God was a child. Statisticians today must be sitting around with their feet up on their desks compared to years ago. Only joking statisticans, please don't take offense....Am also using a very good book - Statistics for Managers using Microsoft Excel by Levine et al (which includes PHStat add-in for Excel), which is an excellent help .

Must organise to 'raffle' the 50 euro voucher from Amazon this weekend. Think I'll involve the kids and do a 'real' names out of the hat job

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The plan is to leave the survey open/available for 2 weeks which will be until next Sunday. So far the response rate has been 59.45% which I am happy with. Opinions vary as to what a good response rate is - Wikipedia states that with online surveys response rates were sometimes as high as 90% before 2000, but have been dropping since then and are now typically between 2% - 30%. A Survey of Visualisation Tools in the Social Sciences suggests that a response rate to questionnaire surveys of around 20 to 25 per cent is good. Earlier studies have shown that topic interest has an inpact on survey response behavior and I would argue that Irish bloggers have a keen interest in the topic of blogging.

However as Bosnjak points out there are response behaviours with web-based surveys which would not have to be considered with more traditional surveys where the three possible response behaviours were unit nonresponse (refers to the complete loss of a survey due to inaccessibility, refusal or inability to respond), item nonresponse (when surveys are partially completed and returned) and complete response. Bosnjak talks of 7 different types of behaviour - complete responders, unit nonresponders, answering drop-outs, lurkers, lurking drop-outs, item nonresponders, iten non-responding drop-outs. Awful names - the last type represents individuals who view some questions, answer some but not all of the questions viewed and also quit prior to the end of the survey. Bosnjak aruges that this typology of response pattern is a more accurate depiction of actual events in Web surveys than the relatively basic categorisation of complete participation, unit nonresponse, or item nonresponse.

Anyway I digress. My point is that while the response rate superficially looks good, it may transpire that many respondents have dropped out or chose to answer only some of the questions. This would not surprise me in the least as the quesionnaire was long and some of the questions were quite detailed. Anyway I'll address that when I collect the results. I am using this time while the survey is still open to get to know my estranged family again :-)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A big thank you

I am much indebted to the people who took the survey which I circulated to a sample of bloggers last Sunday. I will be forever in their debt for their generosity in terms of the giving of their time (it was a long survey) and the many positive comments I received. My dissertation would be dead in the water had they not agreed to participate. Following feedback from some bloggers a couple of issues arose:

It was an oversight not to let people know when I contacted them, how I had gotten their contact details. The sample was taken from bloggers on Planet Journals and I only contacted people who had contact information (either email address or contact form) on their blog or on a webpage linked to on their blog.

A question arose as to the scope of the project. I am primarily looking at blogging in Ireland in terms of the questions asked in the questionnaire - questions such as
who is blogging in Ireland in terms of sex, age etc.
what topics are Irish bloggers writing about?
how active are Irish blogs e.g. frequency of update, age of blog
How interactive are Irish blogs e.g. how prevalent is the use of the comment
facility for feedback?
what tools/services (blogware) are being used by Irish bloggers for editing,
organising and publishing weblogs,
why do Irish people blog?

I draw very much on previous literature and research on the blogosphere in general. My own perception was that while Ireland's blogging community is very active and committed, the general public has been slow to adopt this form of online communication. The sample was taken from Planet Journals and An obvious limitation of this and therefore a limitation of the study is that these services by and large require manual registration and there is no means of determining how many Irish sites don't choose to be listed. However while the conclusions may not be generalizable it is hoped that there will be sufficient data to make some level of interpretation.

Business blogs and blogs belonging to politicians were excluded as I am primarily interested in personal blogs. Also no Bebo users were included. There were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly my research proposal was submitted and the research underway before the popularity of Bebo among Irish teenagers came to the fore in March/April (well at least that's when I became aware of it). Also other studies indicate that teenage bloggers obtain different gratifications from blogging than adults do. I reckon the popularity of Bebo would be a very interesting research area but in its own right.

A number of people expressed an interest in seeing the finished product. I have taken their details and will follow up when I finish.

And what do you know.....the rain has finally stopped


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rainy Sunday

Haven't posted in about a week. Have been really busy harvesting contact addresses for Irish blogs. Have just contacted a sample of 218 bloggers asking if they could spare the time to respond to a quesionnaire on blogging habits and motivations. Had an idea of contacting owners of inactive blogs, (those not updated in two months) with a view to establishing what makes people abandon blogging but not unexpectantly very few of these blogs have contact addresses and even if they have, the liklihood is that the contact addresses may have been abandoned too.

God, this weather would put years on you....think I'll bring the kids to the cinema.