Archive for October, 2008

The short version

This very short entry is just to record the TinyURL for the survey: I plan to print it on some small cards and hand them out at the LIANZA conference if anyone I talk to is a free/open source software user and is interested in completing the survey.

October 20th, 2008

Out in the wild

Yesterday morning I issued the invitation to complete the survey that will gather the bulk of the data for my research. It’s surprisingly hard to stop tweaking and send it out for ‘the world’ to view.

I wouldn’t be surprised to get some feedback about the distribution method: I sent it to a number of project and library-related email discussion lists, rather than collecting email addresses and sending out individual invitations. Is it OK to send a message to (potentially) thousands of people, only a small fraction of whom might be interested in the topic of the survey? Of course, I think that my topic is so important that everyone who gets the invitation should respond, but I realise that’s not the case. So why use a list?

First, I have a problem with large-scale harvesting of email addresses from discussion lists. It seems to me that most people don’t post messages in order to broadcast their email address, and that this type of harvesting is dubious from an ethical perspective.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I wanted to offer people who lurk on the lists an opportunity to complete the survey. There is no way of knowing who they are, and I suspect that their contributions will be very important to bring out a perspective that we usually don’t see in the list conversations. Time will tell how successful this will be.

I suppose I should also post the link to the survey here, just in case anyone is reading this and hasn’t received a copy of the invitation. If you use or are otherwise involved with a library/information management free/open source software project, and would like to contribute to research into factors that influence participant satisfaction with the software, you’ll find it at:

The survey will be available until 14 November 2008.

October 17th, 2008

Progress report

I am nearly ready to invite people to complete the online survey for Stage 2 of this project (yay!). I started designing the questionnaire a week ago, had the first draft ready on Monday, and spent the rest of the week asking people from different backgrounds to give me feedback on the questions.

It’s now at the stage where I don’t think it’s possible to make any more changes—if I tweak the questions any more, it will start going downhill. Today I wrote a draft of the invitation email, and completed the Human Ethics Committee application. Assuming all goes well, the invitations should be sent by the end of the week. Then I will have the pleasure of seeing how many responses I get. While I’m waiting, I’ll experiment with the trial data, and set up an analysis template.

I have to confess that it does feel good to be getting somewhere at last. The current approach seems to be working, at least for now.

October 12th, 2008

Life gets in the way

Despite my good intentions in June, life got in the way of my research again (sigh). However, the good news is that for the last few months, I have indeed been spending at least “15 minutes a day” on my research, and have finally managed to make some progress. I am currently finalising the questionnaire for the next stage of my research. I probably won’t be able to issue it for a couple of weeks, since I need to find a few people to use as pilot testers, make any changes they identify, and apply for Human Ethics approval. But once that’s done, it will be ‘all systems go’.

This time I am feeling much more motivated to move on and get this project finished. I have even written the first sentence of my thesis, and prepared a mental outline of the first few chapters. As long as I can keep finding a few minutes a day to think/plan/read, and spend some time each the weekend writing, I should be able to continue to make progress.

October 8th, 2008


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