ICT Research

Convenience tooling

Saw_tooth_setter_kerfIn research we often refer to ‘convenience sampling’ as sampling where subjects are selected because of their convenient accessibility and proximity to the researcher. The most obvious criticism is sample bias. In working with other researchers, reading articles and PhD students there also is a danger of something I would like to call ‘convenience tooling’: choosing the tool first tool you see, you know or has a favorable image. Now, of course there could be many good reasons why a researcher chooses to do so. Maybe it’s because he/she has worked with or developed a certain tool. Maybe the tool in question is ‘the only tool’ that has a certain features. However, to at least have some sort of reasoning behind the tool choice, in my opinion, a good researcher should give arguments why he/she chooses a certain tool. Preferably, if the need to use a tool arises because of a certain research question or framework, a researcher should write down what features for a tool are needed to answer the research question. Then it should be argued how the chosen tool provides the features that are needed. You could compare this whole process with making a requirements document. In the end, it could very well be that the choice for a tool remains the same, but at least a researcher -just as with sampling- is ‘forced’ to make some of his/her tool choices more specific.