Approach to the research
A combined approach using both qualitative and quantitative methods has been the research method chosen for this research, as this would allow for the necessary flexibility and level of detail of study required. There were no expected or predetermined answers to the questions posed and the dissertation has therefore tried to establish key themes, standards, criteria and practices used in assessing the quality of websites. The relative newness of the field of study and lack of written evidence in the literature has determined this combined research approach in order to find out as much information as possible. The aim of the research was to establish and summarise current criteria used to establish quality websites written about in the literature and carried out in practice by Library Authorities. This research will be used to form the basis for a number of recommendations.
This section is concerned with the design of the research methodology conducted. Busha and Harter (1980:20) have described research methods as, the "procedures and methods by means of which the identified problem" has been studied. A number of different methods were used to obtain relevant information for each of the aims outlined in section 1.3. All of the methods are consistent with the research method.
Literature and web-based research
A literature search was carried out to establish the key themes. A literature search is important as pointed out by Hart (2001:2), as "a search of the literature is an essential part of every research project". Gash (2000:1) explains describes that a literature search is "a systematic and through search of all types of published literature in order to identify as many items as possible that are relevant to a particular topic". This preliminary study allows the discovery of the key issues and themes surrounding kitemarking of webpages to be identified and compared with the relevant literature.
Web based Search
A brief examination of the existing collections of quality websites was undertaken. This was to discover what kitemarking has already taken place on the web. This
Chapter 3 Methodology
background research has tried to identify standards being used to carry out quality assessment of websites. This has allowed an initial investigation into the standards and procedures involved in the kitemarking of webpages to be investigated.
"The investigator should conduct a thorough search and review of all literature related to the topic under study. An examination of the underlying theories, methods, and conclusions of related studies allows a better understanding of the research problem and contributes to the conduct of a better study", (Busha and Harter, 1980:61).
This has highlighted a number of issues and themes that have been used to determine suitable themes to ask about in both the questionnaire and case study interview.
The questionnaire research method was used as this allowed primary data to be collected. This method was chosen as outlined in Kelley (1999) because it allows data to be collected quickly in a standard manner. It allows both quantitative data (numerical values) and qualitative data (comments from open-ended questions) to be collected.
Themes and topics for questions
The questions themes were determined by carrying out an initial literature review looking at the issues relating to providing links to quality websites. This enabled a better understanding of the subject and therefore the questions could be tailored to provide only information in areas of interest. This method allowed relevant primary data to be obtained.
It was important that the sample population of the questionnaire is relevant to the area of study.
"Investigators should consult with authorities in the topical area of research so that first-hand, additional insights, suggestions and information can be obtained from these experts", (Busha and Harter, 1980:62).
Therefore, the Library Authorities in England were chosen to be sent the questionnaire. This was carried out to try to obtain a wide range of respondents