Mixed methods data collection using simulated Google results: Reflections on the methodology of a point-of-selection behaviour study.
By Tara Tobin Cataldo, Amy G. Buhler, Ixchel M. Faniel, Brittany Brannon, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Christopher Cyr, Kailey Langer, Erin M. Hood, Joyce Kasman Valenza, Rachael Elrod, Randy A. Graff, Samuel R. Putnam, and Summer Howland
A multi-institutional, grant-funded project employed mixed methods to study 175 fourth-grade through graduate school students’ point-of-selection behavior. The method features the use of simulated search engine results pages to facilitate data collection. Student participants used simulated Google results pages to select resources for a hypothetical school project. Quantitative data on participants’ selection behavior and qualitative data from their think-aloud protocols were collected. A questionnaire and interviews were used to collect data on participants’ backgrounds and online research experiences. This paper reflects on the data collection methods and highlights opportunities for data analysis. The ability to analyze data both qualitatively and quantitatively increases the rigor and depth of findings.
The simulation created a realistic yet controlled environment that ensures the comparability of data within and across a wide range of educational stages. Combining data on participants’ behavior, thoughts and characteristics provides a more complete picture of factors influencing online resource selection. Using simulated results pages in combination with multiple data collection methods enables analyses that create deeper knowledge of participants' information behavior. Such a complicated research design requires extensive time, expertise and coordination to execute.
Cataldo, Tara Tobin, Amy G. Buhler, Ixchel M. Faniel, Brittany Brannon, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Christopher Cyr, Kailey Langer, Erin M. Hood, Joyce Kasman Valenza, Rachael Elrod, Randy A. Graff, Samuel R. Putnam, and Summer Howland. "Mixed Methods Data Collection Using Simulated Google Results: Reflections on the Methodology of a Point-of-Selection Behaviour Study." Information Research 25(4), paper 881. https://doi.org/10.47989/irpaper881.