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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal

1.5.1 Design questions

The nature of the questions for this thesis and the theoretical framework that has been used to discuss them place this research squarely within the domain of the social sciences. This should not be surprising: scholarly journals are above all communications artefacts, and communication is a social activity. What then are the possible choices of research methodologies available to social science researchers?

The social science research literature (for instance [Bickman and Rog, 1998], [Allen and Skinner, 1991], [Adams and Schvaneveldt, 1985]), reveals a number of possible choices in both research type and data collection strategies. These are partly related - certain types of research fit better with particular data collection strategies. Possible research types include exploratory and descriptive research (including case studies), field studies and field experiments, and experimental-causal investigations. Available data collection strategies include questionnaires, interviews, direct observation, projective and indirect methods, archival documents and evaluation research.

The challenge for the researcher is thus to match the most appropriate research type and data collection strategies with the foci of their research.

In looking at the research questions for this thesis, a number of possible data collection targets emerged. The artefact questions involved issues to do with the preconditions for change in artefacts (access to suitable technology and current use of existing technology) and early signs of change (new journals and journal forms). The stakeholder questions involved issues to do with both individual and organisational responses. What is an appropriate set of research design decisions? Table 1-1 summarizes the research foci and sub-foci and the corresponding data collection decisions. The next section discusses the reasons behind these decisions.

Table 1-1: Research Questions and Data Collection Strategies



Collection focus

Collection technique

Transformation of journal form and function

Reader's access to necessary technology

Availability of technology;

Comparison between groups in same discipline area


Reader's existing use of such technology

Usage patterns;

Comparison between groups in same discipline area


Reader's attitudes to electronic publishing

Comparison between groups in same discipline area


Early indicators of change

Specific new electronic-only journals

Literature/Web survey

Transformation of
stakeholder roles
and practices

Institutional responses:

Case study on specific initiatives

Semi-structured interview

Reader's responses

Use of electronic publishing technologies


Last modified: Monday, 11-Dec-2017 14:38:14 AEDT

© Andrew Treloar, 2001. * http://andrew.treloar.net/ * andrew.treloar@gmail.com