Clues for the Paradigmatic Development of Online Qualitative Methods

Main Article Content

Newton Claizoni Moreno de Melo orcid
Débora Coutinho Paschoal Dourado orcid


Objective: in this paper, we problematize how online methods were reduced to mere adaptations from previous data collection techniques, and then discuss how some of the idiosyncratic properties of the online scope may drive the development of future, paradigmatic, online qualitative methods. Proposition: we identified five clues for the paradigmatic development of online qualitative methods: (1) the new socialities allowed by online interactions; (2) the processes involved in asserting identities and selves online; (3) the increasing difficulty in distinguishing what is private and what is public online, and what does privacy mean in this context; (4) the increase of participants’ agency in online qualitative research; and (5) the declining distinction between offline and online social phenomena. Conclusion: by using ontological and epistemological assumptions that do not consider the specificities of online experiences, and by focusing excessively on adapting known methods to the new settings, we researchers are bound to conceive the online experience and operate in it using offline categories. This way, we might be missing the opportunity to develop native, paradigmatic, online qualitative methods that, ultimately, would allow for a better understanding of the phenomena we investigate.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Melo, N. C. M. de, & Dourado, D. C. P. (2021). Clues for the Paradigmatic Development of Online Qualitative Methods. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 26(4), e210015.
Methodological Articles


Anwyl-Irvine, A., Massonnié, J., Flitton, A., Kirkham, N., & Evershed, J. (2020). Gorilla in our midst: An online behavioral experiment builder. Behavior Research Methods, 52, 388-407.
Battles, H. T. (2010). Exploring ethical and methodological issues in internet-based research with adolescents. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 9(1), 27-39.
Baym, N., & Markham, A. (2009). Making smart choices on shifting ground. In A. Markham, N. Baym (Eds.), Internet inquiry: Conversations about method (pp. 7-19). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Beaulieu, A. (2010). From co-location to co-presence: Shifts in the use of ethnography for the study of knowledge. Social Studies of Science, 40(3), 453-470.
Bouchard, K. L. (2016). Anonymity as a double-edge sword: Reflecting on the implications of online qualitative research in studying sensitive topics. The Qualitative Report, 21(1), 59-67.
Broad, K. L., & Joos, K. E. (2004). Online inquiry of public selves: Methodological considerations. Qualitative Inquiry, 10(6), 923-946.
CohenMiller, A., Schnackenberg, H., & Demers, D. (2020). Rigid flexibility: Seeing the opportunities in ‘failed’ qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods 19.
Coomber, R. (1997). Using the internet for survey research. Sociological Research Online, 2(2), 49-58.
Corti, L., & Fielding, N. (2016). Opportunities from the digital revolution: Implications for researching, publishing, and consuming qualitative research. SAGE Open, 6(4).
Craig, S., Eaton, A., Pascoe, R., Egag, E., McInroy, L., Fang, L., Austin, A., & Dentato, M. (2020). QueerVIEW: Protocol for a technology-mediated qualitative photo elicitation study with sexual and gender minority youth in ontario, Canada. JMIR Research Protocols, 9(11), e20547.
Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (3 ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Featherstone, M., & Burrows, R. (1995). Cultures of technological embodiment: An introduction. Body & Society, 1(3-4), 1-19.
Fischer, M., Lyon, S., & Zeitlyn, D. (2017). Online environments and the future of social science research. In N. Fielding, R. Lee & G. Blank. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of online research methods (2nd ed., pp. 611-627). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Genoe, M. R., Liechty, T., Marston, H. R., & Sutherland, V. (2016). Blogging into retirement: Using qualitative online research methods to understand leisure among baby boomers. Journal of Leisure Research, 48(1), 15-34.
Giaxoglou, K. (2017). Reflections on internet research ethics from language-focused research on web-based mourning: Revisiting the private/public distinction as a language ideology of differentiation. Applied Linguistics Review, 8(2-3), 229-250.
Gregory, K. (2018). Online communication settings and the qualitative research process: Acclimating students and novice researchers. Qualitative Health Research, 28(10), 1610-1620.
Griffiths, M. D. (2012). The use of online methodologies in studying paraphilias—A review. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 1(4), 143-150.
Hallett, R. E., & Barber, K. (2014). Ethnographic research in a cyber era. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 43(3), 306-330.
Hewson, C., Laurent, D., & Vogel, C. (1996). Proper methodologies for psychological and sociological studies conducted via the internet. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 28(2), 186-191.
Hine, C. (2009). Question one: How can qualitative internet researchers define the boundaries of their projects? In A. Markham, N. Baym (Eds.), Internet inquiry: Conversations about method (pp. 1-20). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Holge-Hazelton, B. (2002). The internet: A new field for qualitative inquiry?. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung, 3(2).
Howlett, M. (2021). Looking and the ‘field’ through a Zoom lens: Methodological reflections on conducting online research during a global pandemic. Qualitative Research, Online First.
Ignacio, E. N. (2012). Online methods and analyzing knowledge-production: A cautionary tale. Qualitative Inquiry, 18(3), 237-246.
Jank, W., & Shmueli, G. (2006). Functional data analysis in electronic commerce research. Statistical Science, 21(2), 155-166.
Kaun, A. (2010). Open-ended online diaries: Capturing life as it is narrated. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 9(2), 133-148.
Kenny, A. J. (2005). Interaction in cyberspace: An online focus group. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 49(4), 414-422.
Klein, J., Tyler-Parker, G., & Bastian, B. (2020). Measuring psychological distress among Australians using an online survey. Australian Journal of Psychology, 72(3), 276-282.
Kokkoris, M., & Kamleitner, B. (2020). Would you sacrifice your privacy to protect public health? Prosocial responsibility in a pandemic paves the way for digital surveillance. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 578618.
Kozinets, R. (2002). The field behind the screen: Using netnography for marketing research in online communities. Journal of Marketing Research, 39(1), 61–72.
Kozinets, R., Scaraboto, D., & Parmentier, M. (2018). Evolving netnography: How brand auto-netnography, a netnographic sensibility, and more-than-human netnography can transform your research. Journal of Marketing Management, 34(3-4), 231-242. 10.1080/0267257X.2018.1446488
Krantz, J. H., & Reips, U. D. (2017). The state of web-based research: A survey and call for inclusion in curricula. Behavior Research Methods, 49(5), 1621-1629.
Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions (2 ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Lee, R., Fielding, N., & Blank, G. (2017). Online research methods in the social sciences: An editorial introduction. In N. Fielding, R. Lee & G. Blank. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of online research methods (2nd ed., pp. 3-16). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Man, J. D., Campbell, L., Tabana, H., & Wouters, E. (2021). The pandemic of online research in times of COVID-19. BMJ Open, 11(2), e043866.
Marres, N. (2012). The redistribution of methods: On intervention in digital social research, broadly conceived. The Sociological Review, 60(1 Suppl.), 139-165.
Mawer, M. (2016). Observational practice in virtual worlds: Revisiting and expanding the methodological discussion. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 19(2), 161-176.
Meredith, J., Galpin, A., & Robinson, L. (2020). Examining the management of stake and interest in a participatory design Facebook group. Qualitative Research in Psychology.
Michalak, E., & Szabo, A. (1998). Guidelines for internet research: An update. European Psychologist, 3(1), 70-75.
Miller, C., Guidry, J., Dahman, B., & Thomson, M. (2020). A tale of two diverse qualtrics samples: Information for online survey researchers. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 29(4), 731-735.
Morison, T., Gibson, A. F., Wigginton, B., & Crabb, S. (2015). Online research methods in psychology: Methodological opportunities for critical qualitative research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12(3), 223-232.
Morrow, O., Hawkins, R., & Kern, L. (2015). Feminist research in online spaces. Gender, Place & Culture, 22(4), 526-543.
Murthy, D. (2008). Digital ethnography: An examination of the use of new technologies for social research. Sociology, 42(5), 837-855.
Numerato, D. (2016). Behind the digital curtain: Ethnography, football fan activism and social change. Qualitative Research, 16(5), 575-591.
O’Connor, H., & Madge, C. (2001). Cyber-mothers: Online synchronous interviewing using conferencing software. Sociological Research Online, 5(4), 102-117.
Pozzar, R., Hammer, M., Underhill-Blazey, M., Wright, A., Tulsky, J., Hong, F., Gundersen, D., & Berry, D. (2020). Threats of bots and other bad actors to data quality following research participant recruitment through social media: cross-sectional questionnaire. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(10), e23021.
Pronk, T., Wiers, R., Molenkamp, B., & Murre, J. (2020). Mental chronometry in the pocket? Timing accuracy of web applications on touchscreen and keyboard devices. Behavior Research Methods, 52, 1371-1382.
Reips, U.-D. (2002). Internet-based psychological experimenting: Five dos and five don’ts. Social Science Computer Review, 20(3), 241-249.
Riley, S., Evans, A., Griffin, C., Morey, Y., & Murphy, H. (2015). Crossing into the digital realm. The Psychologist, 28(8), 652-655. Retrieved from
Robbin, A. (1992). Social scientists at work on electronic research networks. Internet Research, 2(2), 6-30.
Salmons, J. (2016). Doing qualitative research online. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Schiek, D., & Ullrich, C. G. (2017). Using asynchronous written online communications for qualitative inquiries: A research note. Qualitative Research, 17(5), 589-597.
Schrum, L. (1995). Framing the debate: Ethical research in the information age. Qualitative Inquiry, 1(3), 311–326.
Stanton, J. M., & Rogelberg, S. G. (2001). Using internet/intranet web pages to collect organizational research data. Organizational Research Methods 4(3), 200-217.
Upadhyay, U., & Lipkovich, H. (2020). Using online technologies to improve diversity and inclusion in cognitive interviews with young people. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 20, 159.
Voltaire (2007). Philosophical letters or Letters regarding the English nation. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company. (Original work published 1734)
Weissman, R., Klump, K., & Rose, J. (2020). Conducting eating disorders research in the time of COVID-19: A survey of researchers in the field. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(7), 1171-1181.
Welch, T. (2020). Is Facebook a viable recruitment tool? Nurse Researcher, 28(2), 9-13.
Williams, S., Clausen, M. G., Robertson, A., Peacock, S., & McPherson, K. (2012). Methodological reflections on the use of asynchronous online focus groups in health research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(4), 368-383.
Willis, P. (2012). Talking sexuality online–technical, methodological and ethical considerations of online research with sexual minority youth. Qualitative Social Work, 11(2), 141-155.
Wood, R. T., Griffiths, M. D., & Eatough, V. (2004). Online data collection from video game players: Methodological issues. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(5), 511-518.