A random walk around Britain: a critical assessment of the random walk scheme as a method of collecting data on the public's citizenship information needs.
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MARCELLA, R. and BAXTER, G. 2001. A random walk around Britain: a critical assessment of the random walk scheme as a method of collecting data on the public's citizenship information needs. New review of information behaviour research: proceedings of the 3rd international information needs, seeking and use in differenct contexts, 6-18 Aug 2000, Gothenburgh, Sweden, 2, pages 87-104.
This paper discusses the second stage of the Citizenship Information research project, funded by the British Library Research and Innovation Centre: a national survey, by personal doorstep interview and using the random walk sample method, of the citizenship information needs of almost 900 members of the UK public. The paper provides a critical evaluation of all aspects of the methodology. It discusses: the design and testing of the interview schedule; the sampling methodology employed; the process, and associated difficulties, of recruiting and training interviewers; and the subsequent success rate of the random walk method, together with the problems encountered by interviewers. It also explains why the researchers found it necessary to devise a unique set of guidelines on the random walk method. When compared with national figures, the random walk method reached greater proportions of women, the elderly and retired, those running a home, and those in the lower social classes. The paper argues that, as these are groups that may be deemed to face social exclusion through a lack of access to information, then the survey results are particularly revealing and significant.