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Review of graphical environments on the WWW as a means of widening public participation in social science research
The World Wide Web (WWW or 'web') is viewed as an increasingly important resource for social science researchers. The WWW is the source of a burgeoning amount of information, a significant volume of which has either some direct or indirect relevance to the social sciences. The web and other associated Internet Based Communications (IBCs) techniques have the potential to provide the social scientist with direct access to vast amounts of social science relevant data should they be prepared to embrace the technology and the opportunities it represents. A key element of the web's attractiveness to the wider public audience is its highly graphical nature and its multi-media content. Social scientists should be tapping into this resource, not only as a means of presenting the results of their research in an exciting and user-friendly format, but also as a new way of gathering primary and secondary data from the information 'cyberspace' and directly from its growing population of users.
These case studies address the technical, methodological, conceptual and ethical issues surrounding the use of the WWW as a source of social science relevant information and as a mechanism for public participation in social science research.
For the purposes of this report public participation in social science is taken to mean any form of active involvement by the public in the wider realm of social science research. At least four different levels of public participation in social science research can be identified:
Graphics Multimedia Virtual Environments Visualisation Contents