Having scoped the literature, although not completely exhaustively, a conclusion that can be drawn from the mass of differing evidence seen is that research outcomes appear to be dependent on their particular contexts and specific methodologies employed in each case.
Whether writers – both skilled and un-skilled – change their writing procedure when computers are used still needs to be convincingly proven, especially in light of new technological developments, ubiquity, and more ergonomic tools and interfaces.
I have started to use the term writing ‘procedure’ now instead of ‘processes’ in my thinking. This is because if ‘processes’ refer to planning, editing, revising, etc.; then ‘procedure’ means the way in which those activities are carried out by the writer.
Also, in light of prior research, I believe that a sequential mixed-methods approach, based on quantitative and subsequent qualitative analyses of think aloud protocols (TAPs), is the means by which the greatest amount of information can be gleaned from the subjects of such a study. This is because the use of TAPs allows for potentially rich quantitative and qualitative analyses, something prior researchers did not take advantage of, as far as can be ascertained. As such, this technique can be used by researchers with a ‘positivist’ orientation, where immediate meanings of utterances are excluded from research interest; but can also be used by ‘nonpositivist’ researchers, where meanings of subjects’ actions are central to the verbal data. Moreover, such a methodology would allow for a great level of theoretical analysis to take place, which is not always possible with a qualitative study of a small sample size, or quantitative study of a large sample size. Theoretical analysis is based upon drawing trends between different areas of analysis; in this sense it is meta-analysis, which may not be possible in a small-sample study. A mixed-methods approach allows for such a meta-analysis; something that may not be possible in a mono-method study.
Categories: PhD Reflections