Research Methods for Urban Planning in the Digital Age

Research Methods for Urban Planning in the Digital Age

Carlos Nunes Silva (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0074-4.ch001


The chapter provides an overview of online research methods for urban and planning research. In examining different digital technologies and Web-based research methods, applied in different stages of the research process, in particular during data acquisition and data analysis, the chapter discusses critical differences and similarities between conventional paper-and-pencil research settings and online research environments. In this outline, the chapter addresses methodological procedures and ethical concerns in research conducted online with respondents or human participants, and ends looking to future directions for online research methods in the field of urban and planning studies.
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Digital Technologies And Online Research Methods

Research designs for Web-based environments are not essentially different from conventional research designs, although the way it is implemented and the ethical issues concerned can eventually be different. The classical experimental design or quasi-experimental designs, longitudinal or cross-sectional designs, described in numerous publications (e.g., Lavrakas, 2008; Silva, 2008a; Creswell, 2002; Newman, 2000; Frankfort-Nachmias et al., 2000), have the same types of structure and components, sampling designs, causal inferences, and control measures, independently of the research setting, conventional face-to-face or online research.

Qualitative and quantitative conventional research strategies, or even triangulation strategies that make use of mixed research designs and research techniques, also extensively described in the literature (e.g., Marshal et al., 2006; Creswell, 2002; Limb & Dwyer, 2001; Frankfort-Nachmias et al., 2000; Patton, 1999), do not differ in essence when applied to a Web-based research environment, even though some physical constraints and ethical issues may perhaps be online specific. The same happens with data collection methods, data processing, data analysis, research writing, publishing and diffusion of research results.

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