On New Means or New Forms of Investigation. A Methodological Proposal for Online Social Investigation through a Virtual Forum
Processes and instruments of communication have constituted an important object for Internet researchers, and have been investigated using qualitative methodologies in social research. The most common strategy has been to adapt orthodox instruments and procedures to the virtual context. In this paper I address the following questions in order to develop a framework for virtual research. Using a virtual forum as starting point, I ask: Is virtual research a new taxonomy or an extension of conventional social research techniques? Is virtual research located at the same level as face-to-face research? Is it a new communicational research form? This paper presents a methodological approach using virtual forums as tools where asynchronous communication flows. I analyze the use of virtual forums in interaction with the social context, and articulate the method that emerges from this fieldwork situation.
virtual forum; online social research methods; asynchronous communication; computer mediated communication; virtual socialization