Online research methods: A resource by Regent’s academics

Professor Joanne Lusher and Senior Lecturer, Oliver Sterland, have created an online resource for Sage Publications on conducting online research entitled 'The peaks and troughs of collecting primary and secondary data online: From encouraging a scientific mindset when systematically reviewing business literature to understanding mental health during COVID-19 through a survey approach'.   

The report presents a reflection on the experiences of both academics who have been using online technology to collect cross-sectional primary data through an anonymous global mental health survey and secondary data via systematic searches of business and marketing literature.  

The report includes a number of useful tips on:  

  • Choosing the right data collection method  
  • Research design in the form of surveys and other online data collection software 
  • Research practicalities when sourcing appropriate secondary data 
  • Effective and ineffective data collection procedures  
  • Top 10 tips on the do’s and don’ts when collecting data online 

Drawing parallels between their experiences of collecting two different types of data using online methods, they found that strategy, structure and perseverance are paramount for success in online data collection.  

Professor Joanne Lusher advises researchers to: ‘Have stamina and a genuine interest in finding the answer to your research question when collecting data. It is important to read around your chosen topic using a variety of online sources to gain a comprehensive appreciation of the research area from a variety of angles.’  

Oliver Sterland suggests: ‘When collecting secondary online data, be aware of nonconscious ideology and biases, for a more balanced critical assessment of a data source. Researchers should also gain a wide appreciation of a subject matter before searching through more stringent, robust, and scientific databases.’  

The report concludes that a good online data collection strategy requires background research and forward planning. More importantly, online surveys require safeguards and ethical checks to be carried out during the decision-making stages to ensure that you are acting with the utmost accountability and responsibility as a researcher. Applying some of the tips and hints described in the report will help ensure that online data collection is successful.  

Access the resource here