Defining and Implementing E-Research Techniques

research, _n._1

1. The act of searching (closely or carefully) for or after a specified thing or person. [oed]

If E-Research is simply the use of the Internet in research methods, it could be any of the following:

  • using an online card catalog to find relevant books
  • using Google to find relevant web content
  • using any number of other webapps for experiment execution or analysis

Unless the object of study is actually the Internet, or some phenomena occurring on it, it doesn’t seem like these tools actually change research methods more than they aid them, by providing unparalleled access to information and analysis of just about anything, whether it be the last hour’s news or an eighteenth-century scientific survey.

On the other hand, E-Research could involve the study of online representations of any subject, through methods such as link analysis and usage studies. This latter definition seems to be what the VKS is focused on.

A study of wayfinding practices like the one we are planning can easily incorporate all of the above. In the first context, online research tools can be used to find previously published information in helping to design and substantiate a research plan. That plan can in turn incorporate an online component, such as a study of how people use some technology to aid their wayfinding behavior.