You are probably a member of several social networks and should consider using them for your research. Sometimes you need to do a survey and you may not be able to conduct as many face-to-face interviews as you would like or need for you dissertation. This is where social networks such as Linkedin have their role to play. If you are a member of a Linkedin group for example, you have access to a number of people who are in your field, or you can join other groups which will enable you to get the sample you need for your research.
Using software tools such as surveymonkey you can conduct an online survey which is anonymous, but you can ask for details of gender, profession and age group in order to get the sample you require.
Depending on your research topic, you could also use Facebook or Google+ to conduct a survey, although the problem with Facebook is that a lot of people under the age of sixteen have created false profiles for themselves, which could play havoc with your data.
This is why Linkedin is better than other networking sites for research such as this. Professionals will, on the whole, not mind taking the five minutes it normally takes to fill in an online survey, as they know that a researcher needs data and they will take the questions seriously. You may even raise some interest in your survey which in turn could lead to employment offers, although admittedly this is a long-shot. Just as with any other survey you need both quantitative and qualitative data and online is a great place for getting the qualitative data. People will happily, I have found, tell a total stranger their life stories or give details of their lives online that they would not give an interviewer in a face-to-face situation. People open up online and that is often good for a social scientist for example.
Just one word of caution before you rush to your favourite social networking site and ask your questions in whatever form: check this idea out with your tutor and work out the precise questions to ask, before rushing headlong into this.
Category: Dissertation Writing Guide