Gathering Empirical Information for Quantitative Research in an Online Environment
The paper analyses the potential of the online environment for obtaining empirical data. It discusses the positive and the negative aspects of their use in scientific research and attempts to highlight the challenges of using social media for empirical data collection. Facebook and its growing levels of consumption attracts research interest because it facilitates recruitment of respondents, saves considerable money, time and effort, and opens access to hard-to-reach populations and highly engaged citizens in a variety of topics. At the same time, the use of online space for empirical data collection remains problematic in terms of representativeness, accessibility and security. The article briefly describes the process of recruiting Facebook respondents to participate in an online survey - a post-election study. The analysis of the results clearly shows the outreach, based on convenience sampling, to an online sample that is characterized by high interest in political issues, active communication practices, variety of information sources used, well-established practices of civic activism and participation in elections, relatively stable party affiliation and consistency in political orientation.
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