Computer Networks in Field Research

  • Sara Kiesler
  • John Walsh
  • Lee Sproull
Part of the Social Psychological Applications to Social Issues book series (SPAS, volume 2)


In applied social research, the questions we can ask and the data we can collect depend on our tools. Computers have made possible many new tools—for instrument design, sampling, scheduling research, coding and editing, data entry, data cleaning, scale and index construction, data base organization and retrieval, statistical analysis, documentation, and report writing (Karweit & Meyers, 1983, pp. 379–414). In the past two decades, these tools have led to efficiencies and a scale of research heretofore impossible, but the data collection process remains much as it was. Today, most field researchers rely on paper questionnaires, personal observations, and interviews carried out face-to-face or by telephone. For example, of the 90 articles published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 1989, 46 report data from a paper-and-pencil survey or face-to-face interview; in another 22, investigators used a personality inventory or similar paper-and-pencil instrument as part of experimental research. In this chapter we consider new tools for data collection based on networking and computers.1 These tools can increase the efficiency and scale of research. More interesting, they make possible new ways of collecting data and give access to data that in the past were virtually unobtainable.


Computer Network Body Armor Electronic Group Social Researcher Network Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Kiesler
    • 1
  • John Walsh
    • 2
  • Lee Sproull
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social and Decision SciencesCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.School of ManagementBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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