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Literature Review

Case Studies
   Case Study 1
   Case Study 2
   Case Study 3
   Case Study 4
   Case Study 5





Case Studies Index

Review of graphical environments on the WWW as a means of widening public participation in social science research

4. Case studies

A total a five representative web sites have been chosen on the basis of their specific area of application, substantive focus, the methods and techniques of interaction (interface) used, and the level of public participation involved.The five chosen web sites are:

  • Psychology Survey, Psychology Department, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • A Review of Web-based Tools for Creating Questionnaires and Inputting and Analysing Survey Results.
  • Landscape Preferences, Land Use Science Group, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen.
  • Where to Dispose of Britain's Nuclear Waste, School of Geography, University of Leeds.
  • Virtual Environments.
All five of the sites chosen include at least some participation, be it actual or planned, as a key element of their research objectives. The level and methods of participation range from the use of simple on-line questionnaires to gather survey information through to sophisticated 3D virtual worlds aimed at gathering real-time perception/response/action information (although it is noted that the latter are still experimental and may not have both a true participatory element or social science aims).

Detailed examination of chosen case study sites was carried out on-line and through the review of associated site specific literature. This has been followed up by interviews and discussions with the web site managers and authors by the most appropriate means (e.g. email and telephone). This follow-up was vital to correctly identify the salient characteristics of the web site and the raison d'être behind its inception. Information of particular interest to this case study review includes:

  • the reason behind choosing a web-based approach over other more traditional methods of social science research;
  • the level and methods of graphical visualisation deemed necessary to communicate the substantive social science element of the problem/research to the client (user);
  • the level and methods of interaction, particularly that of a graphical nature, deemed necessary to engage the public in the social science objectives of the server (web site);
  • the quality and quantity of the responses gained by these methods and how these compare (or are seen to compare) to responses gained by more traditional methods of social science research; and
  • the perceived level of success and/or failure of the case study web-sites based on evidence from the above.

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