This paper presents findings from an experimental empirical study about web forum discussions as instruments for qualitative research inquiries. It focuses on written, asynchronous group discussions between absent communication partners and deals with autonomous group discussions instead of strongly structured focus groups. The autonomous development of subtopics by the group using written communication between absent partners is a particular challenge for both the researcher and the debaters. Under which conditions and using which techniques do qualitative group discussions using a web forum work successfully? Three aspects of running such discussions can be clarified: a surprisingly modest group size, a duration of two or three months and thematically reserved moderation but very “active reading” by the researcher produce positive results. Further research should study the function of multithreading, which was observed being used by the debaters.
Qualitative Methods, Online Research, Group Discussions, Web Forums, Written Inquiries
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.
Recommended APA Citation
Schiek, D., & Ullrich, C. G. (2019). Using Web Forums for Qualitative Inquiries: Empirical Findings on the Conditions and Techniques for Asynchronous Online Group Discussions. The Qualitative Report, 24(13), 5-16. Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol24/iss13/2