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Qualitative digital methodology, especially hypermedia, multimodal ethnography, visual and sensory methods.

My interest here includes working with digital formats of video, audio and photography, as well as the digital manipulation and representation of data and analysis through hypermedia linking. I have a long-standing interest in particular in hypermedia approaches, and have been able with colleagues in the School of Social Sciences to establish a long-standing tradition of funded research on hypermedia. This work has resulted in a series of ESRC-supported research grants, in which the Cardiff team has constructed a password protected, interactive digital platform for qualitative research analysis and authoring, hosted on a Cardiff University server, the Ethnographic Hypermedia Environment. The technical and methodological issues involved in doing so were addressed in the Sage book Qualitative Research and Hypermedia (Dicks et al., 2005).

More recently, I have extended this work to the field of multimodal ethnography, the study of meaning-making in a multimedia age. This work applies the theory of multimodality – developed by linguists and social semioticians working in the field of education - to the advancement of ethnographic methods. Rather than single-mode approaches, such as visual methods, multimodality stresses the interconnections and affordances of a range of different media and modes.. A special issue (11: 1) of Qualitative Research on this topic, co-edited with education specialists entitled 'Multimodality and ethnography: working at the intersection', (Dicks et al 2011), brings together a collection of papers by acknowledged leaders in the fields of multimodality and ethnography.

Funded Research Projects

  1. Dicks, B., ‘Watching, Listening, Reading and Clicking: Representing multi-modal qualitative data’, demonstrator project for QUALITI node, ESRC NCRM. Start: 1.02.07; End 1.07.08
  2. Dicks, B., Coffey, A., and Williams, M. Methodological Issues in Qualitative Data Sharing, ESRC. Start date: 1 Sep 05; End date: 04 Dec 06Coffey, A. (PI),
  3. Coffey, A., Dicks, B., Renold, E. and Williams, M. ‘Ethnography for the Digital Age’, ESRC H333250056. Start date 1.10.02. End date: 31.01.05. £175,000.
  4. Atkinson, P., Coffey, A., Dicks, B. ‘Use Of Hypermedia Techniques In The Analysis & Dissemination Of Qualitative Data: A Study Of A Heritage Museum, ESRC R000237126. Start date: 1.10.97. End date: 31.9.99. £145,767

Selected Publications on Hypermedia and Multimodality

  • Dicks, B. (ed) (2011; in press) Digital Qualitative Research Methods, 4 volume Major Work, London: Sage (SAGE Benchmarks in Social Research Methods series; see
  • Dicks, B., Flewitt, R., Lancaster, L. and Pahl, K. (2011) ‘Multimodality and ethnography: working at the intersection’, Qualitative Research, 11 (3) 227-238.
  • Dicks, B. and Mason, B. (2011), Clickable data: Hypermedia and Social Research, in S. Hesse-Biber (ed) The Handbook of  Emergent Technologies in Social Research New York: Oxford University Press
  • Hurdley, R. and Dicks, B. (2011) In-between practice: working in the ‘third space’ of sensory and multimodal ethnography, Qualitative Research, 11 (3) 277-292.
  • Dicks, B. and Hurdley, R. (2009) Using unconventional media to disseminate qualitative research, Qualitative Researcher, Issue 10: 2-6
  • Dicks, B. and Mason, B. (2008) ‘Hypermedia methods for qualitative research, in S. Hesse-Biber and P. Leavy (eds) The Handbook of Emergent Methods, New York: Guilford Publications
  • Dicks, B., Soyinka, B. and Coffey, A. (2006) Multimodal ethnography, Qualitative Research 6 (1), 77-96
  • Dicks, B., Mason, B., Williams, M., & Coffey, A. (2006). Ethnography and data reuse: issues of context and hypertext. Methodological Innovations Online [Online], 1(2). 
  • Coffey, A., Renold, E., Dicks, B., Soyinka, B. and Mason, B. (2006) Hypermedia ethnography in educational settings: possibilities and challenges, Ethnography and Education Vol. 1 (1).
  • Dicks, B., Mason, B., Coffey, A. and Atkinson, P. (2005) Qualitative research and Hypermedia: ethnography for the digital age, London: Sage.
  • Dicks B. and Mason B. (2003) Ethnography, Academia and Hyperauthoring, in J R Walker and O. Oviedo (eds) TnT Texts and Technology New Jersey: Hampton Press
  • Mason B. and Dicks B. (2002) Going Beyond the Code: The Production of Hypermedia Ethnography, Social Science Computer Review  (0.913) 19(4).
  • Dicks, B. and Mason, B. (1998) 'Hypermedia and Ethnography: Reflections on the Construction of a Research Approach' Sociological Research Online, vol. 3, no. 3.
  • Mason, B. and Dicks, B. (1999) 'The Digital Ethnographer', Cybersociology, 6, Research Methodology Online.