One of the ways we determine the quality of research is by examining the methods used. We want to be sure the research methodology is appropriate, that appropriate sampling and analysis techniques are used, that there is no bias and that the conclusions are supported by the evidence. But the research that informs Grown Up Digital is proprietary. In other words, it was conducted under contract for several businesses. As a result, only some of the "high level findings and main conclusions" can be shared publicly. This means the reader has little opportunity to assess the quality of the research.
While Tapscott doesn't provide the full details of his methodology that would allow for a proper assessment, he does share some of the methodology:
- Data was gathered from a sample of 7685, composed of randomly selected Internet users, stratifed to avoid gender or socioeconomic bias.
- Interviews were conducted using an online questionnaire.
- Facebook group was used to collect over 200 stories.
- Discussions on a global online network TakingITGlobal were conducted and analyzed
This highlights the value of academic research and why we need to be careful about how we use proprietary research. Academic research is subject to peer review and it requires transparency and openness of methods. With proprietary research, it is up to the sponsor to decide what to make publicly available.