Sample Research Proposal Essay on Privacy in Social Network Sites

Privacy in Social Network Sites


Nowadays, social networking sites are very widespread avenues for individuals to converse with friends, families and associates from across the world. Although there can be benefits from the collective and disseminated methods stimulated by liable use of social networking sites, there are security and privacy concerns for this information. Accessibility and the volume of individual information existing on social network sites have engrossed malicious individuals who seek to abuse it. Similar technologies inviting participation of the user also make networking sites easier to contaminate with malware that can lead to a closure of an organization’s networks, or keystroke loggers that can lead to stealing of credentials. Common social network risks like spear phishing, spoofing, social engineering, and web application attacks try to steal an individual’s identity. Such occurrences are often fruitful due to the supposition of being in a naive environment that social networks create.

Safety and confidentiality linked to social network sites are basically social issues, not technological ones. When an individual posts more information, the information becomes obtainable for a prospective concession by those with malevolent intentions. Individuals providing sensitive, private or confidential information about other people or themselves, whether knowingly or unknowingly, pose a high risk to themselves and others.
Information is like an individual’s street address, mobile phone number, private trade information, social security number or financial data should not be distributed online. Likewise, posting photos, audio or video files could end up making an organization to breach its discretion or a person’s breach of privacy.

                                                     Research Methodology                                                    


This part elucidates how the study on privacy in social network sites was undertaken. It examines how applicable that data about privacy in social network sites was gathered from the appropriate secondary sources. The researcher has inspected, briefly, the importance of both epistemology and theoretic viewpoints in design of a research. The general public should look at application these in exercise by exploration of some of the alternate research methodologies. The choice of research methods is resolute by a mixture of numerous factors such as, whether the study believes that there is a snow from external ‘truth’ out there that desires determining, or whether the aim of research is to explore and unpick individual’s multiple viewpoints in natural and field settings. It is prejudiced, then, by whether the investigation is inclined to a positivist, inter-pretivist, or other outlook. Also, the study should be influenced, for instance, by the researcher’s boldness towards methods in which she or he thinks that theory be used.  The study applied qualitative techniques of research to come up with its objectives. The research, by use of research questions, has examined sources appropriate to undertake the research.

Research Philosophy

Research philosophy entails a trust about the manner in which information about an occurrence should be collected, examined and recycled. The term epistemology as contradictory to doxology includes a variety of philosophies of study approach. The drive of science, then, is the process of converting things believed into things known. Two key beliefs in research have been recognized in the western custom of science, specifically scientific and positivist.

Research Questions

            The study about privacy in social network sites addressed the following research questions;

  • What are social networking sites?
  • What are the benefits of social networking sites?
  • What are the dangers of social networking sites?
  • What is privacy in social networking sites?
  • What are the security and privacy issues associated with social networking sites?
  • What has led to decline in privacy in social network sites?
  • How should individuals maintain privacy on social networking sites?
  • How should the users of social media be aware of the associated dangers?

Research Method

The researcher used qualitative technique to study privacy in social network sites. Qualitative design helped the researcher come up with a detailed understanding of the study topic by use of prior research and analysis of existing theories on privacy in social network sites. Qualitative research methods enabled the researcher clearly understand issues related to privacy in social network sites, the dangers of social network sites and how users of social media should respond to these dangers, thereby drawing a reliable conclusion as well asproviding suitable recommendations.

Research Design 

The study on privacy in social network sites applied descriptive design.  Using descriptive design enabled a researcher have a thorough account of the topic under examination. Descriptive design enabled the researcher understand the subject and get thorough information from the participants. Parahoo (2014) points out that the design selected for a study should be the one most suitable to realize an answer to the anticipated research question. For the drive of the projected research question the researcher has chosen to use a descriptive qualitative design of research in the anticipations to explore privacy in social network sites. According to Burns and Grove (2009), qualitative research entails a methodical, independent approach to define life experiences and provide them with a meaning. Also, qualitative study allows researchers explore conducts, viewpoints, approaches, and practices in depth, superiority and convolution of a condition through a complete framework. A qualitative research has four mutual approaches, including phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, and historiography. As the researcher is a beginner, none of the approaches were thought appropriate for this study thereby a modest descriptive qualitative research was selected. Descriptive design intents to define crucial findings in a harsh way free from bias and prejudice. Descriptive research helps in determining new implication, explaining what presently exists, verifying the rate at which something happens, and classifying information. Therefore, the researcher selected this design for the research because it aids the defined activities the researcher.

Target Population

The researcher aims to obtain a purposive sample to examine privacy in social network sites. Qualitative studies use a slight sample selection, because of the comprehensive nature of the research and the analysis of the obligatory data. As the researcher aims to obtain a purposive sample there will be elimination and enclosure standards which are required. The study on privacy in social network sites was performed between both male and female, irrespective of their age and place of residence who used social networking sites. The study aimed at investigating privacy in social network sites and its importance in promoting efficiency to the network users. The target of the study was to get information from the users and their opinions regarding security of the sites to improve information safety and security, a populace is defined as all fundamentals (individuals, matters and events) that attain the model criteria for presence in a study.

A suitable sample of 90 subjects was designated from the organizations used. A sample is an elements designated with the meaning of finding out something from the total population from which they are collected. A suitable sample contains subjects included in the research because they happen to be in the appropriate place at the right time. Participants who encountered the sample standards were recognized by the researcher.

Sampling and Study Setting

The researcher collected data from various sources. The researcher used research questions conveyed during the study preparation to select the study units.  In selection of the secondary sources, the researcher used his judgment on the most appropriate source of data to use. Also, a sample of 90 participants was selected, whereby 48 of them were female while 42 were male from different parts of the world. During the sample selection, the researcher ensured that the sample was capable of representing the entire population who use social networking and generalize the obtained findings.

Sampling Techniques

In selecting suitable sample for the study, the researcher used random sampling. According to Teddlie and Yu (2007), this method is a possibility technique of sampling where every member of the population target can access equal chance to be selected. Random sampling technique is amongst the economical and the easiest method for sampling applied by several researchers mainly because it evades predisposition in data collection. Random sampling is the finest single method to get adescriptive sample. No method, not even random sampling assures an illustrative sample, but the likelihood is higher for this process than for any other.

Therefore, every user of social network had an equal chance to contribute in the study. However, the selected participants from various places across the world assisted in providing essential information needed by the researcher. After sampling process, the researcher obtained informed consent from the participants. In addition, the researcher sought consent for using the information received solely for the purpose of the study. After receiving the informed consent from the participants, the researcher guaranteed discretion of the information that it will only be useful during the study.

Data Collection and Instrumentation

Information for the study was also obtained from various sources. To carry on interviews, the researcher visited several places across the world and collected data from various people. Secondary information was gathered from various literatures by earlier researchers that included books, journals, periodicals, newspapers and publications related to social networking. Further, the researcher used both nominal and ordinal data. A survey was used to a selected sample from a specified population identified by the researcher. Surveys are commonly used in research methodology to a mass data from a specified population and normally utilize an interview or a questionnaire as the instruments for survey. Surveys are further useful in obtaining data from people about themselves, their families, or social institutions. Sample surveys are significant tools for collection and analysis of information from designated individuals. They are generally acceptable as a vital tool to conduct and apply basic research methodology in social science.

The researcher scheduled interviews with participants. Open-ended questionnaires were necessary to gather information that is more detailed. According to Dornyei and Taguchi (2010), a questionnaire is a published report form aimed at drawing information that can be collected via written answers related to the subject under the study. Information collected using a questionnaire is analogous to that received by an interview, but interviews have more depth. The following reasons made the researcher use questionnaires:

  • They did not require more energy and time to control.
  • Questionnaires enabled higher rate of response because they were distributed to participants to fill and were succumbed personally to the researcher.
  • Questionnaires offered a higher degree of privacy because the participant’s name was not required on the filled ones.
  • Questionnaires have limited chances of prejudice because they are obtained in a consistent manner.
  • Most of questionnaires used in the study were closed-ended, and it was simple to answer.

As earlier stated the researcher aimed at carrying out a qualitative study. To do so, it required open-ended, semi-structured and detailed interviews. The researcher selected open-ended interviews as it permits participants confer their views, opinions and know-hows completely where possibly an interview with closed ended questionnaires may prevent them from expressing their full thoughts and approaches. By using semi-structured ones, the researcher set a topic guide or an amount of questions to be enclosed with every participant. A face to face discussion enables the researcher perceive any non-verbal message but allows both the interviewer and participant seek explanation where necessary. The interviews were projected to last for 60 to 90 minutes. The interviews were audio-taped with consent from the participant to determine a precise account of the interview that can be repeated for investigative purposes and privacy was guaranteed during recording. Participants were reminded of their right to withdrawal termination of the interview at any time before the start of the session. To ensure participants privacy and confidentiality throughout the interviews, three was an entrance to a reserved room. The interviews were carried out over a period of one month which allowed the researcher replicate and make alterations where necessary.

However, questionnaires usually have some drawbacks. For instance, for validity and reliability, the participants might not replicate their exact approximations and might provide answers to thrill the researcher, and significant information may not be received due to brevity of the responses. Open-ended questionnaires give the participants an opportunity to provide their personal opinions about the study subject. Before the start of the interview, the researcher sought consent from the parties taking part in the study. To expedite this, the researcher made the parties aware of the study purpose and guaranteed them that data collected from them was solely for this specific study and their private information would be confidential.

Reliability and Validity

According to Yu (2005), reliability entails the degree of consistency in which an instrument measures the amount it is planned to measure. Open-ended questionnaires answered by the respondents showed consistency of responses. Conversely, reliability can be assured by reducing inaccuracies in measurement like predisposition during collection of data. The prejudice was reduced by ensuring that the researcher solely managed the questionnaires and regulated situations, such as introducing similar features to all respondents, including support and sociability.

Nevertheless, Yu (2005) asserts that validity of instruments in research is the degree at which the instrument achieves its intended measurement. Content validity involves the level at which an instrument denotes the factors within a study. To realize content validity, the researcher used questionnaires with various questions about the participants’ knowledge on privacy in social network sites. The questions related to data collected through literature review to ensure that they signified a strong indulgence of privacy in social network sites. The uniformity of administering questionnaires further guaranteed content validity. The researcher disseminated all questionnaires to the participants and conducted the interviews on his own. Further, the researcher formulated the study questions in a simple language for clarity and simplicity of understanding. Moreover, the there were clear directives to the participants and the researcher completed the questionnaires for participants not capable of reading. The researcher ensured that all the participants completed the questionnaires in his/her presence to ensure that the participating parties could not give some of the questionnaires to non-participants to fill them on their behalf.

For validity, the participants conveyed the questionnaires directly to the researcher. In addition, supplementary questions were formulated to ensure a higher degree of representation. Some of the questions were rephrased to elucidate them and choices that are more different were incorporated to the closed-ended questionnaires to deliver imperative data analysis. External validity was guaranteed. External validity is the level at which findings from a research study can be comprehended out of the study sample used. Every study participant filled the questionnaires and no participant amongst the approached declined to contribute. The study findings were generalized to all population members. Getting participants willing to contribute in a study can be difficult, especially if the study necessitates more time and other investments by the participants. If individuals approached to contribute in a study declines, simplifying the findings to each member of the population is difficult to explain. The study needs to be designed to manage investment demands on participating parties to improve their participation. In addition, personalities approached and refused to contribute in the study should be stated to judge the threats to external validity.

The researcher made the psychological and physical environment where data was collected comfortable by guaranteeing discretion, confidentiality, and general bodily relief. To ensure reliability and validity of data collection instruments, the researcher carried out a pilot study on a few countries. Necessary adjustments were made to research instruments to improve their consistency, internal validity, as well as external validity.

Pre-testing the Questionnaire

According to Choi and Pak (2005), a pre-test is a trial of a research instrument to detect mistakes. When a questionnaire is used as a data collection instrument, it is crucial to get the lucidity of the study questions and guidelines to participants and know whether the participants recognize what is required from them. This is the pre-testing process of a questionnaire. The researcher undertook a pre-tested of the questionnaire on five respondents. All of them participated willingly and no question that was changed after the pre-test.

Ethical Considerations

Research process requires not only diligence and knowledge, but also ethics and morality. This is essential for awareness and maintenance of the rights of the subjects. To get the study right, the rights to self-sufficiency, confidentiality, secrecy and informed consent were considered. A written consent to undertake the research was found from the participants. Informed consent is the potential contract of the participants to contribute willingly in a research study that is reached after incorporation of crucial information in relation to the study. The researcher informed the participants of their rights to willing consent or failure to participate, and to decline from participation at any time without any fine. Participants were informed about the purpose of the research; the methods used to collect data, and assured that there were no probable risks or costs involved. Confidentiality and discretion were upheld throughout the study. Privacy was ensured and researchers with their individual responses could not link participants. This study guaranteed confidentiality by not revealing the participants’ name on the questionnaire as well as reports and to separate the written agreement from the interviews.

When the researcher promises the participants discretion, it is clear that the information they provide will not be conveyed to the public in a manner to identify them. In this study, the researcher held discretion by keeping the collected data confidential and failure to reveal the identities of the participants during publication or reporting of the study. There was no evidence of detection that was entered into the questionnaires, and the questionnaires were numbered after collection of data. The ethical principle of self-sufficiency was also sustained. Participants were looked upon as independent entities by informing them about the research study and allowing them to take part in the study or not. Scientific decency is considered very important ethical duty in the process of research. Fraudulent conduct may include manipulating methods, manipulating design, and holding or manipulating information. The researcher evaded any form of dishonesty by recording fairly the replies from participants who were not capable of reading and writing. Manipulation of information was difficult as the researcher recorded information from questionnaires to a software program in a computer. The researcher also checked the open-ended questions to confirm credibility.

Data Analysis

Data analysis aims at organizing, providing structure and receiving meaning from research data. Data was analyzed in combination with data collection. As interviews were conducted, collected data was synthesized, understood and conversed to provide meaning to it. However, qualitative data analysis occurs in three phases, which involve description, analysis and interpretation. The researcher transcribed the interviews precisely and an analysis of the transcripts was carried out. However, the researcher used descriptive analysis. This is because descriptive research permitted the researcher to provide a thorough clarification of the study findings. The collected information was initially organized then coded in accordance with how it related with research questions. Data was analyzed using computer programs. The analyzed data was recorded in graphs, charts, tables and notes for simplicity in interpretation when the researcher is concluding and recommending the study. In addition, it aided easy justification of research findings to the sponsors.


            During the study, the researcher used qualitative research. Through conducting interviews, the researcher collected data from an appropriate sample of 90 participants across the world. The questionnaires incorporated open-ended questions. The sample included participants with sound minds who were aware of the privacy in social networking and were willing to contribute in the study. The researcher sought informed consent from the participants. Further, the researcher ensured confidentiality, self-sufficiency and discretion while administering questionnaires and writing down the report. To guarantee validity, the researcher dispersed questionnaires to participants. Further, pre-testing the questionnaire ensured validity and reliability. However, this chapter has examined research methodology, including research questions, research methods, data collection, the population target and sampling, guidelines used to ensure the ethical standards, reliability, as well as the validity of the study.


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