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Qualitative Online Research Methods

Course code
Course type
Doctoral Program Lecture
Weekly Hours
FS 2021
Juniorprof. Dr. Julia Katharina de Groote
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Audience and Goal of this Course:

This PhD course is designed for doctoral students interested in carrying out qualitative research collecting their data using online tools. Using qualitative online research might become necessary due to external circumstances (e.g. it is not possible to schedule face-to-face interviews) or be an informed choice to leverage on recent methodological developments. Examples for these settings would be conducting interviews digitally or setting up research designs which apply different online methodologies such as diary studies, focus groups, or online communities.

Course Content:

In business practice specifically in market research and innovation management qualitative online research has been on the rise for the past decade. The possibilities of digitalization offer new perspectives on existing research methods and proven tools have been developed. At the same time management research typically does not apply these methods even though they offer interesting opportunities such as gaining in the moment insights from participants, reaching and bringing together respondent groups, which otherwise could not interact, and saving travel costs. Management researchers often use digital methods as a “second best” in situations where they do not see a direct interaction option (e.g. conducting interviews via telephone or Skype instead of face-to-face). The way these methods are then used often neglects the pitfalls electronic communication might pose, which often leads to low quality data. Maybe even more importantly, it misses out on many opportunities to collect meaningful data by leveraging on the possibilities of online research methods. This course has the goal to equip PhD students with the knowledge and skills they need to meaningfully apply qualitative online research methods.

1.) Introduction

  1. Introduction to the topic and the course
  2. Why do we need qualitative online research methods?
  3. Exchange of personal experiences of the group

2.) Overview of methodologies and technologies

  1. Interviews
  2. Focus groups
  3. Diary studies
  4. Communities
  5. Others
  6. Software providers

3.) Designing projects using qualitative online research methods

  1. Choosing the right design
  2. Choosing the right tool
  3. Combining different methods
  4. Combining online and offline methods

4.) Project organization, management and coping with disaster

  1. Things to consider when planning projects
  2. Project management during the project
  3. User engagement
  4. How to deal with pitfalls and problems during projects

5.) Data analysis

  1. Methods for data analysis
  2. Tools for data analysis
  3. Organizing data analysis

6.) Presentation of individual projects

Date Time
Monday, 10.05.2021 09:45 - 13:30
Tuesday, 18.05.2021 12:00 - 13:30
Tuesday, 25.05.2021 12:00 - 13:30
Friday, 04.06.2021 09:45 - 13:30
By the end of the course the PhD students will have gained skills and knowledge in (a) the possibilities of qualitative online research methods (e.g., which methods can be used and how should they be used, tools), (b) making design choices when setting up qualitative online research, (c) planning the analysis of the data.
The PhD course will be delivered using a mixture of lectures and exercises. Despite the opportunities digital technology offers, hardly any guidelines of how to use it exist for management scholars. Students will receive an overview of different qualitative online methodologies and how they can be applied. The main goal of the course is to enable students to make informed decisions when designing and conducting projects. Every participant designs a detailed project plan for a qualitative online research project. The project can either refer to a part of the own dissertation project or – if not applicable – to another research project of choice. Students will present and discuss their design in class. Every student has to hand in a report on their own study design. Additionally, students are assigned partners and provide (written) feedback and improvement suggestions for the projects of the other students. Guest lecturers will deliver insights from their research practice from an academic as well as practitioner perspective. Online lectures will be delivered in a combination of live-meetings and asynchronous tasks.
  • 30% presentation** of own study design (part of PhD or other project)
  • 25% documentation of study design (report)
  • 15% peer-review of study design of other student**
  • 30% in-class participation

**Exact mode of evaluation depends on the number of participants in the course and will be communicated in the first lecture

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