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Introduction

This article critique concerns an article titled “Mobile Social Networks and Social Practice: A Case Study of Dodgeball” authored by Lee Humphreys. The research explores the communicative differences between the Dodgeball users and internet users in relation to how they influence the informants experience on public space and social relations.

The study notes that Dodgeball is an MSNS facilitating the social networking and relationship among friends leaving in the urban public space (Lee, 2008, p.1). The main purpose of the study is to explore the use and perceived effects surrounding Dodgeball as a mobile social network system (MSNS) as integrated into everyday life.

Research questions

To help examine this claim, the researcher developed two research questions. The first research question relates to the examination of the nature of interactions created around the MSNS that is, the users and the purpose for use. The second question concerns the effects of the interactions to the thinking of and experience of the users in the public urban spaces.

Lee (2008) utilizes a normative questioning while generating the first research question. In his second question, the author maintains an impact-based research approach to establish the effects of the research independent variable on the subjects of study (dependent variable).

From the analysis, the research questions posed by the researcher have captured the main essence driving the study. They constitute clearly articulated statements that can ascertain the understandability of an average reader.

Because the study aims at exploring the effects of this mobile network service on the nature of face-to-face social communications, posing a research question of the second nature serves to address the research purpose. A research question, according to Rubin and Babbie (2009) and Bulmer (1982), should be able to inform the research purpose, measurable, and capable of eliciting a research insight. These two questions have merited this particular criterion.

Review of the literature

It entails the process of researching the previously conducted researches about the topic of study or a related theme. This ensures that the researcher gains insight into the issue under review in order to build a theoretical framework upon which the research shall address the fundamentals of the study.

In his article, Lee (2008) clearly forms a basis of the research through laying a vivid background that allows one to gain requisite knowledge about the subject of study (Bulmer, 1982). To accomplish this task, a researcher must devote him or herself toward researching relevant and current literatures that give a quality and up to date secondary data about the research topic. The use of this type of data literatures remains critical to the extent of scope, relevance, and need for the study.

In this evaluation, the researcher has ventured into ensuring an extensive and in-depth examination of the background of the subject to provide necessary picture and idea, which helps in building theories and assumptions. The literature review has served to illuminate on the purpose for which the social mobile service is used. Therefore, the background information has aided the qualitative methodology used in establishing a solution to the first research question posed by the researcher.

Research Design

Framework for collection and analysis of data

The research framework within which the researcher positions the study allows for an informed study. Firstly, the researcher has embedded the research with a theoretical conceptual framework examining the need for the study (Bulmer, 1982). Secondly, the previous examination into the use of MSNS suggests a plausible research chosen by the author. The framework has enabled a smooth ride from the previously studied materials through a transition to the material present research.

The framework gives an in-depth analysis of the subject matter while ensuring that the topic of study remains within the province of the study. The conceptual framework further allows the researcher to identify and utilize an appropriate study design, type of respondents and the methods of data collection to ensure validity and reliability of the research findings.

A conceptual framework has succeeded in using both historical and contemporary literature. This has ensured that the research benefits from all the phases surrounding the research topic

Data collection

The researcher has utilized focused interviews as the primary sources of data for the research. The interviews sought by the author of the research aimed at examining the effects of the social mobile service to the regular users of the Dodgeball MSNS service. The background analysis had indicated that the users were mainly urban public dwellers. Therefore, the author’s target respondents became this type of study group. This imperative has been ensured due to laying down the background and the conceptual framework. The choice of the method of data collection is in tandem with the type of research undertaken by the researcher.

As Bryman (2008) noted, social research demands that qualitative study be taken to explain the social phenomenon that the researcher attempts to examine.

Clearly, the study phenomenon attempts to explore a socially occurring issue worth of examination. To ensure a proper understanding of the topic, a researcher should posit a scenario far enough to demonstrate themes capable of generating theories around the study topic.

Qualitative study approach beholds the ability to pursue this process to yield desirable results. However, the study would have employed other methods of data collection such as surveys and observation in order to develop the best-of-breed data analysis that promotes the principle of generalization.

Method used

The researcher used a qualitative methodological design to develop his research. The data collection method methods used could help to establish information needed in explaining the phenomenon. The use of qualitative method serves to address the question of the research because the research is qualitative in nature.

According to Rubin and Babbie (2009), qualitative research aims at explaining issues related to human behavior by examining the phenomenon from its natural setting. Therefore, Lee (2008) appropriately uses the method in his study in order to build theories around the topic of study.

Sampling techniques used

The sampling techniques used in a research remain a key element of ascertaining the quality, validity, and reliability of the study findings (Rubin and Babbie, 2009).

The purposive or sampling used by the researcher aimed at obtaining a sample that could represent the hypothesized scenario that the Dodgeball mobile service had an effect on the social relationships of the underlying users. Although the sampling type allows the researcher to explain the causal-relationships, arguably, the results of this type of sampling possess threats of lack of validity.

The researcher utilized 21 in-depth interviews on urban public dwellers using the social networking service. Although the research narrowed to fewer interviewees or respondents, the type and demographic nature of the interviewees allows for the establishment of internal validiAty. This is because the selection of the respondents attempted to consider the effective use, since regular users may exhibit these effects. Further, the sampling group emerged through a randomly established technique of sampling.

This process ensures that the researcher addresses the challenges of validity of data, which inherently affects the authenticity of the results. This implies that even though the sample may not be representative of the population defined by the users of Dodgeball mobile social network service, the results from the analysis may serve to explain the correlation between the usage and the effects on social relationships.

This argument bases on the descriptive data showing the representativeness of the data based on the number of friendships that the informants had, their average number or frequency of use, and the age of the users.

Ethics and their relevance to the topic of interest

Safety and confidentiality of the participants

The article of the research does not mention issues leading to the establishment of safety of the participants of the research (interviewees). A good research must clearly set out the confidentiality rules and safety of the information sought for by the researcher (Renzetti and Lee, 1993). Because the research examined a social aspect of a population involving their aftermath behavior, it is expected that the researcher designs a participant confidentiality form aimed at ascertaining their privacy of their “back-yard” information (Gilbert, 2001).

Validity

To ensure that the findings were valid, the researcher used QSR’s N6 qualitative data analysis software to analyze the data collected during the interviews. The researcher set off the procedures based on grounded theory to generate themes and theories as contrasted to testing previously demonstrated theories by former studies. Descriptive statistics described the demographics of the informants. This clearly gives the image of the type and nature of the participants underpinned by the research (David and Sutton, 2011).

Unbiasedness

Although the study affords to eliminate the possible internal factors that may cause invalidity, the extraneous elements are highly likely to cause threats of external invalidity. It means that other factors other than sampling methods may impede on the validity of the final findings, hence lacking sound generalizations.

The study indicates that the users of Dodgeball defined as highly active utilized the service in their daily activities. A study conducted showed that they were technically involved in the social networking service (Gilbert, 2001). The implication of this observation is that other factors outside the study variables might explain the effects examined on the independent variable.

Findings of the research

It is fundamental to ask, has the research answered the questions of the research? The question helps in establishing whether the research has managed to achieve its primary objective.

The data collected formed homogeneous sets of data, which the researcher used to formulate or design themes. Through the analysis, the researcher developed five relevant themes (David and Sutton, 2011).

Limitations of the study

As the researcher notes, Dodgeball does not offer itself as the representative of the rest of social network sites and mobile servicing. Therefore, Dodgball does not afford a space to presume that people using social network services behave in some particular style. However, the study of Dodgeball user-effects offers the scenario from which future researches may base their studies (Sherri and Jackson, 2008).

The other limitation that may impair on the validity of the findings relates to actively engaged Dodgeball users defined as “first time users” or early adopters. This implies that they do not appear to depict a representative sample of all Dodgeball users. It is worth noting that the users or Dodgeball mobile social network does not confine its usage to urban or semi-urban users only. The study thus, fails to inform the study of a general picture of the causal-relationship existing between the use and aftermath effects on the users.

Significance of the study and its future insight

Up to this end, the question that draws relevance is, what future insight does the research afford to the field? The study has contributed in innumerable ways toward the field and especially in illuminating on the concept of social media networking and their potential effects of human behavior. This study can lend numerous lessons for future use in developing entities based on the findings from related studies.

The research offers future insights into the study of the correlation between Dodgeball and other social networking services with the development of spaces. Changes in technology are likely to cause changes in how people utilize these technologies as the enablers for social lives. Therefore, the research asserts that future researches should focus on this area since it provides a rich ground for plausible research.

Recommendations

The sampling technique utilized by the researcher should have considered a mixed sample of Dodgeball in order to derive a sample representing the Dodgeball population. It is arguable that the participants of the study tied well with the demands of the research as obtained from its demographics. However, had the researcher utilized a mixed and relatively larger sample the results would have had a general feel of the entire population.

The research has failed to examine the aspect of confidentiality and codes of behavior when examining issues that require disclosure of privately held information by the participants. For a research to address the objective underpinned by it, he should have objectively informed the study participants of the reasons and purpose of their participation (David and Sutton, 2011).

In future, such a research should utilize these provisions in order to avoid biased responses inherent in interviews that fail to communicate their purpose of engaging the respondents.

The research by Lee (2008) offers a great insight into how social networking services can influence developments in space and place. I would recommend the article for future reference because it has established the framework upon which other future empirical studies will develop (Locke, 2004).

A good research should yield results or findings that are representative of the larger population. The research can utilize quantitative data analysis method, which shall ensure ease of establishing results from a relatively larger sample. This method would go a long way in eliminating the challenges or threats of internal invalidity occasioned by the qualitative analysis. A mixed research would have an implication of a research gaining from the advantages of both methods while neutralizing the weaknesses of each approach.

For the research to merit based on rigorousness, it should embrace all possible analyses that a research may address. The research would have benefited on this element had it utilized other social mobile networking services in order establish conclusive results that can sustain generalization (Locke, 2004).

References

Bryman, A., 2008. Social Research Methods. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bulmer, M., 1982. Social research ethics: an examination of the merits of covert participant observation. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers.

David, M., and Sutton. C.D., 2011. Social Research: An Introduction. 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Gilbert, N., 2001. Researching Social Life. London: Sage Publications.

Locke, T., 2004. Critical discourse analysis. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Renzetti, C.M., and Lee, R., 1993. Researching Sensitive Topics. London: Sage.

Rubin, A., and Babbie, E.R., 2009. Essential Research Methods for Social Work. New York: Cengage Learning.

Sherri L., and Jackson, S.L., 2008. Research Methods and Statistics: A Critical Thinking Approach. New York: Cengage Learning.

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