While Internet-based tools are gaining currency in social work teaching and practice, social work researchers are tapping into the development of computer-mediated methods for research with dispersed and hard-to-reach populations. This article is a reflective commentary about the opportunities and challenges of using computer-mediated methods in a qualitative inquiry about young people’s (18–26 years) experiences of negotiating lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) identities in Australian workplaces. The research used two Internet-based methods of online interviews and web-based surveys to capture young people’s experiences of disclosing and discussing LGBQ identities in past and current work environments. In this commentary, I outline these methods and explore the technical, methodological and ethical challenges and tensions presented by using online tools in qualitative research. To conclude, I discuss wider applications of computer-mediated communication for social work.
- computer-mediated communication
- online interviewing
- web-based surveys
- young LGBQ people