The following is a description of the two data collection tools used in the present research.
4.6.1 The questionnaire
The main aim of the questionnaire (Appendix A) was to collect a range of data concerning the respondents’ opinions about using social networks and the language which is used there. The questions which were designed and implemented in this questionnaire focused on the following groups of topics:
1. social networks and their users;
2. social networks and the language which is used there;
3. emoticons and their role.
The questionnaire is divided into four parts. The first part of the questionnaire gathers some demographic questions created to collect information about the respondents who took part in the research: their sex, age, and nationality.
The second part of the questionnaire aims at gathering information concerning the idea of social networks from the users’ perspective. In this part of the questionnaire one can find out some reasons for using them together with most commonly used social websites and the frequency of using them. There is also one question devoted to Eric Chester’s idea of the hierarchy of communication needs where the respondents are supposed to state what is the most and the least preferred form of communication in their opinion. The third part of this research
119 tool includes questions concerning the language of these social networks, more
specifically, similarities and differences between the language of the Internet and the language which is used in everyday conversations, the influence of a spoken language on the language which is created and implemented on social websites, and finally the respondents’ perception of grammatical correctness. When talking about grammatical correctness, the emphasis is put on proper tenses, punctuation, and spelling. In the following questions, the respondents are supposed to state in which situations they pay attention to grammatical correctness, what is the most important for them when they see a post, a comment or an advertisement, and what kind of mistakes they usually notice in the above mentioned written forms. The last two questions in this part of the questionnaire are about the sources of potential mistakes which are visible in comments, posts, and messages and some external factors which determine the way we write posts and comments. Finally, the fourth part of this research instrument deals with emoticons and their role in writing online messages. The respondents are supposed to state what kind of emoticons they use, how often they do it, and express their opinions about the role of emoticons in their messages.
The questionnaire consists of both quantitative and qualitative questions. Of the total 19 questions, 17 are quantitative questions, 2 are qualitative. The quantitative questions include multiple choice and rank ordering questions in which the respondents are supposed to rank the given options in order of importance from 1 to 5 where 1 is the least important and 5 is the most important. The quantitative data are presented in the form of graphs, charts, and tables, whereas the qualitative data were analyzed through careful reading and presented in the form of descriptions. It must be stated that even if most of the questions required the respondents to choose the most suitable answers, yet there were examples where the respondents were allowed to suggest their own answers or even explain and justify their opinions.
120 4.6.2 Course of the questionnaire study
The questionnaire study was conducted from June to September 2017 on social network Facebook among the sampled population of 100 users of the Internet. 50 Americans and 50 Poles took part in this research. In order to avoid discrepancies in answers given by the respondents, the average age was restricted to 20-26. In most cases, people who took part in this research were the inhabitants of big Polish (Kraków, Katowice, Warsaw, Poznań) and American (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco) cities. Most of the respondents were white-collar workers. The questionnaires in English and Polish were sent to the American and the Polish respondents on line, via the e-mails, chat groups and Facebook messenger. Before the questionnaires were distributed, the respondents were briefly informed about the topic of the questionnaire, its structure and the anonymity. The respondents were also informed that their sincere and reliable answers would contribute to a well conducted research, significant data analysis, and final results. The respondents were encouraged to ask questions if anything was unclear for them. The questionnaires were sent systematically to the Poles and the Americans and they were supposed to fill in them and send back within 2-3 days. Most of the respondents stuck to this deadline, some others needed more time to complete them.
Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of distributing questionnaires via the Internet is that sometimes the respondents procrastinate and very often it is necessary to remind them about filling in the surveys. In most cases, the respondents were eager to take part in the research and completing questionnaires was not a big problem for them; however, there were some users who rejected completing the questionnaires because of laziness, lack of time, forgetfulness, and their own opinions about surveys in general. It is worth mentioning that the Polish were more eager to take part in the research and they sent the surveys back faster than the Americans who sometimes had problems to complete them on time.
121 All in all, it must be stated that these 100 answers which were received from
the respondents were fully completed and they contributed to data analysis and final results which are presented in the further sections of this dissertation.