Digital data and online qualitative research
Powell J., van Velthoven MH.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This chapter focuses on how qualitative health researchers can harness internet-mediated research to elicit new data, or to capture existing data present in online spaces, and the benefits and challenges of this. Digital qualitative data comprise the text, pictures, and ‘meta-data’. In general, internet-mediated qualitative research can be divided into two approaches: those which conceptualise the internet as a social space where data can be found; and those which harness the internet as a tool with which to collect data. The internet is both a social space where rich data can be found in multiple media, and a tool for eliciting new data from participants. The convenience of using existing data is seductive, but researchers must understand that such data have limitations and methodological convenience should not outweigh theoretical sampling considerations. Researchers also need to be mindful of the specific ethical considerations related to the online environment.