Measuring a phenomenon requires attention to reliability and validity. I used John Creswell’s Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd Edition) as a valuable guide to the process. Creswell noted the need for validating qualitative research and describes several primary strategies of doing so, including triangulation, member-checking, use of rich, thick description, clarification of the bias of the researcher, presentation of negative or discrepant information, peer debriefing, use of an external auditor, and prolonged time in the field of study (p. 196).
For my study, I chose to clarify my own biases, detail my prolonged participation in the “field” of the biblioblogosphere, and to present “negative or discrepant information” (Creswell, p. 196) from the study to demonstrate the breadth of responses. My favorite bit was describing my own blogging journey as my prolonged time in the field. I wanted to share it with you here – and ask anyone reading to share as well.
Statement of Bias
Because of the nature of this study, it is important to also self-evaluate. I have been a blogger since 2003, have spoken at library events “evangelizing” the use of blogs by libraries and librarians, and have written extensively in the professional literature on the topic. Connections exist between myself and many of the survey participants. However, the survey was conducted anonymously and only once did a participant identify himself in the response section – with a statement that he knew I would recognize as well as an emoticon smile ?.
Throughout the coding process I reminded myself to be open to all opinions stated by respondents. I am reporting the results fairly and without bias.
Prolonged Participant in the Biblioblogosphere
I recently spoke on a panel at the Massachusetts Library Association meeting in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The panel, entitled “Blog’s Eye View,” consisted of Jessa Crispin of BookSlut.com, Jenny Levine of the Shifted Librarian, and me. We were asked to discuss our blogging history and reflect on the practice and our participation. This was a useful experience to prepare for this statement.
After learning about blogs and blogging in 2002, I was inspired to begin blogging in April 2003. I learned as I went along, creating posts, adding links, and sharing my thoughts. Once in awhile, I would get a link from another blogger, pointing traffic my way. It was a thrilling time.
In 2004, I attended the Public Library Association meeting in Seattle and was surprised at the lack of any mention of blogging in the technology sessions. I also applied to an IMLS-funded distance independent doctoral program at the University of North Texas, discussing in my application essay my blog and research interests centered on blogging. Once accepted, I created a new category to blog my experiences in the PhD program. At this time I was also presenting workshops in Indiana libraries about blogging.
I realized Tame the Web was a useful tool, first and foremost as a way to keep track of the links and bits of knowledge I encountered reading LIS blogs. Using categories to organize posts as well as the built-in archive feature made sense for me. 2005 was the year of the Michael Gorman editorial discussed in Chapter 1 and marked my second year in the UNT program. I taught blog workshops at Purdue University Libraries, at the Internet Librarian International conference in London, and at various other conferences that year. Tame the Web continued to generate traffic and response from other blogging librarians as well as multiple comments from readers. I started teaching as an adjunct at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) and introduced my students to blogging in LIS753, Internet Fundamentals and Design.
In 2006, I applied for a full-time tenure track position at Dominican GSLIS. My presentation for the interview was an overview of library blogging and what it means for the profession. I was offered the position and started teaching full-time in August 2006. That summer I taught blogging workshops in New Jersey, in Connecticut (with Jenny Levine), and via Web conference to a library meeting in New Zealand. I also participated in the opening session of the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County’s Learning 2.0 program, keynoting a session on social tools with Michael Casey, author of the Library Crunch blog.
I continued blogging and working on this study in 2007. After my proposal defense in April, I put my own blog writing on hiatus until after my dissertation writing was complete. A series of guest authors provided content for me. It was interesting to note that the day I wrote the post I felt sadness, as though I was losing touch with something important. It amazed me how ingrained in my life the act of blogging had become.
Negative or Discrepant Information
While performing the content analysis, negative responses were encountered and noted. Some instances even became part of the coding categories. Respondents pointed out that people could be mean in the biblioblogosphere. Another, when noting what had been learned stated: “While the blogging community is large, it seems too frequently to function as a group of small and ince$tuous cliques.” Another respondent in the same question category stated: “LIS blogosphere is a giant cluster—-.”
Those were the methods I chose to prove the validity and reliability of my phenomenological study. What might your own blogging journey be?