Coursework 2 Methodology
 
(Extracts from PhD Methodology chapter; with some modifications for this coursework )
 
The survey contributes to an exploratory study of blogging among tourists.  It aims to address questions such as who the bloggers are, what type of trips they blog about and what their blogging practices and blogging motivations are.
 
The survey questionnaire developed consisted of two sections with a total of 17 questions. Section A is about respondents’ usage of travel blog websites and their blogging habits (website used, travel blogs posted, types of trips blogged about, timing of blog, language used in blogging and motivations for blogging) and Section B asks about the respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics (gender, age, education, occupational status and nationality). Blogging motivations mentioned by some researchers include: sharing their experience with  their  family and  friends  (Bosangit et al, 2009; Sharda and  Ponnada, 2008); report back to friends and families about activities and experiences during trips,  (Puhringer and Taylor, 2008); communication;   keep in touch with family and friends at home without spending  a lot of money on phone calls and creating a diary which you do not have to carry around (Enoch
and Grossman, 2010); communicate with an audience and construct their identities (Banyai and Glover, 2012).  There is no statistical evidence for these motivations, and any such evidence is limited to a few blogging motivations.  Communication, creating a diary, sharing experiences and constructing identities seems to sum up the motivations mentioned in the extant literature on travel blogging.  Hence, other blogging motivations were included in the questionnaire  based  on  the  list  generated  from  the  literature  of  blogging. Table 4.2 below
modified Table 3.5 (functions and motivations of blogging) from the previous chapter and translated it into the travel blogging context.
 
Table 4.2 Travel blogging motivations
 
With   regards   to   the   travel   blogging   practices,  extant   literature   and observations of the travel blog websites were useful in establishing key variables to be used in the survey.   Table 4.3 summarises the key variables used in the survey and how they were measured.
 
 
After the survey questionnaire was finalised, it was pilot tested with the help of 10 travel bloggers from travelblog.org and travellerspoint.com and then submitted to the three travel blog websites for feedback and permission for it to be administered in their website.With the approval of these websites, the survey was administered through an online survey website, surveymonkey.com.   This website provided the link below to be included in emails to members
and the posts in the forum.
 
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=jWPRJJwS_2bHkizm0p6s0
 
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This online survey website automatically coded the responses to the survey and the results were easily downloaded to be used in the Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software for the data analysis.
 
Administering the survey
 
The survey was administered from December 5, 2008 to February 5, 2009.  The administrators of travelblog.org posted the survey questionnaire on their travel forums on December 5, 2008.  As promised, the administrator had made this post  “sticky”, a feature in online forums that allows a specific post to remain on top of the travel forum topics for several weeks, to capture the attention of the bloggers.  They also endorsed the survey to members that they had granted permission for the survey to be conducted.
 
The administrators gave permission to send private emails to members. The list of bloggers sorted alphabetically in the website was used as the master list for emailing bloggers.  The active bloggers (indicated in the master list) were specifically chosen for the survey as, accordingto Ali Waters (personal communication, 2008), as dormant bloggers are those bloggers who have not logged into their accounts for three months.  Due to the large volume of bloggers in travelblog.org (7,861 active blogger), not all members were emailed.  To avoid bias, 13 letters were chosen from the beginning of the alphabet (a-f) and at the end (t-u). The list also includes screen names starting with numbers, and since they contain few members they were all emailed.
 
To increase the response rate, bloggers were emailed individually.   This, however, involved sending emails through their web pages, constant monitoring of blogger’s questions and feedback, and providing technical support to respondents as they accessed the surveymonkey.com survey link. Due to time constraints and the large number of emailed respondents (3,464) bloggers were emailed only once due to their sheer volume.   There were 1,306 surveys filled out however, only 1,214 were considered valid.