A recruitment ramble

2015.11.06.recruitment-low-6629310209_b41f348fc3_oI began recruiting for my main doctoral study in September. When I did so, I had this naïve vision of finding enough participants within a few days and completing my data collection by the end of October. Though I did give myself a wee cushion, realising that some participants might not complete the study until mid-November, I had expected that I would be done recruiting people long before then.

Only the reality of participant recruitment began to present itself early on. Still, I had hoped that one or two strong social media blitzes would get me the numbers I need.

But here I am at the start of November, still trying to find more participants for my study.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a complete ghost town around here. It’s just that it’s a little (a lot?) more challenging than I had hoped it would be. And I don’t know why. I mean, it’s an exciting study, right!?

I am trying to fine 12-15 people in each of three age groups:

  1. Generation Y: Born 1981-1997
  2. Generation X: Born 1965-1980
  3. Baby Boomers (or older): Born 1964 or earlier

My recruitment process has been fairly basic. I’ve created a short description of the research and a general overview of the participation activities, along with a short form to fill out for more information. From there, I send on a fuller description of participation details, along with the option of completing diaries electronically or by hand.

Once I hear back from potential participants, they are sent a second email with a consent form and diary instructions—as well as a couple other bits of information and a prompt to schedule an interview. Then there might be a couple of follow-up emails to answer questions, check in on the diary process, and confirm an interview time.

If everyone who noted interest followed through, I would have more than enough Gen-Xers and Boomers. But I would only have 11 Gen-Ys. And if everyone who is actively engaging with me completes, I would have enough Gen-Xers. But I would want another 2-3 Boomers—and twice as many Gen-Ys.

And it’s those Generation Y folks who have me stumped!

I honestly thought that younger people would be more eager to participate in a study about online information and personal reputation. I honestly thought that these people would jump at the chance to talk about how they engage with social media.

Instead, it’s people from my own generation (Go, Gen-X, go!) who seem more eager to participate. And, to a slightly lesser extent, the Boomers are noting an interest.

But then life gets in the way and people decide to withdraw from the study.

I’ve spoken with other digital researchers and have heard that they, too, have struggled with finding “younger” participants, so I know it’s not just me. But that knowledge doesn’t help me find a solution.

I am trying to reach out to the younger people I know, to ask for their help in spreading the word. And I am trying to think of clever and interesting ways to reach the Gen-Ys I don’t know. But I’m running out of ideas—and time!

Still, I’ve not given up all hope; I’ve not considered shouting defeat.

But I am—as ever—happy to hear thoughts and suggestions on recruitment in general or recruiting those young whipper-snappers! (And I’m happy to hear from potential participants, too!) And hopefully I’ll be sharing a story in the not-too-distant future about a full set of participants.

[Note: Image by John Seidman, sourced on Flickr and used under Creative Commons License.]

Defining and organising the Internet

organising-the-internetIt’s been a while since I’ve blogged here, in part because I still haven’t figured out how best to use this space and in part because I have too many muddled thoughts in my brain to know what to share.

To address both of those issues, I’ve decided to use a tactic that works for my personal blogging habits: I’m going to attempt at using this space to work through some of the confusion I’m facing. The hope is that the act of writing my thoughts down will help me to clarify them, but that it will also give me the opportunity to seek feedback from others.

So, here goes!

Two of my goals for the next week are to 1) source some simple definitions of a few technical terms and 2) create an organisational chart of the Internet (highlighting my main areas of research).

Both of these things will be used in my thesis to guide the reader in their understanding of my approach to the topic of personal online reputation management.

First, the terms I want to define. Initially, I want to start with the broad terms found in the middle of the organisational chart. Those are:

But I may also need to add other definitions such as blog, forum, comments section, etc.

Or maybe those belong in a table somewhere?

Or maybe in a glossary?

How do I decide what terms to define within the main body of my work and which to simply relegate to a glossary?

Now, onto the organisational chart. (Full-size PDF here.)

(Don’t worry: the cat won’t be on the final version, despite theories that the Internet is actually made of cats*.)

I am starting with cats “The Internet” then attempting to identify the main areas under that umbrella. For now, those are the World Wide Web; interfaces for email and SMS; and peer-to-peer file-sharing, FTP sites, and VoIP services.

I am only planning to expand on the sections I’m investigating, so will only be expanding on the World Wide Web category from there.

Under the World Wide Web, I have listed social media (Web 2.0); databases and organisational and informational websites; and static websites (Web 1.0).

And from there, I’ve placed social networking sites under social media.

Here are some of my questions:

What am I missing from each level?

How much detail do I need to go into?

Do I list examples on the chart on in the descriptive text?
(Example: Blogs under social media; Facebook under SNSs)

Am I completely off-base in my thinking?

Any thoughts and opinions you have to share would be greatly appreciated. And hopefully, I’ll have my head fully wrapped around this all by next week, at which time I’ll share an update.

Thanks for helping!

(Oh, and I suppose I should make a joke about how organising the Internet feels a bit like herding cats, too.)

* There’s a video about it and all! Please note that there may be questionable language used around the 1-minute mark.