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Once the candidates had been identified, a consistent protocol was followed. The most suitable personnel (typically the project director and if possible their manager in the library) were identified by using the project web pages. These potential informants were contacted via electronic mail which outlined the research and requested their cooperation. These initial contacts were also asked if anyone else involved in the project should also be contacted. Between April and September 1997 each site was visited and a semi-structured oral interview took place with the informants. The interview questions are included in the Appendices to this thesis (see 11.3: Library Case-Study Questions on page 191). Each informant was asked each of these questions unless they indicated that they were not appropriate. Other lines of enquiry were also pursued in the interviews as seemed appropriate. Each interview was transcribed in real time onto a notebook computer and audio-taped, following recommendations in [Jones, 1991a]. Tapes were reviewed the same day to ensure that nothing had been missed and any follow-up questions were asked in a separate interview session on the next day. Some 20 hours of tapes in all were recorded.
The case study research relied on multiple sources of evidence. Documentary evidence was important as corroboration and augmentation of interview evidence. Available documentation included the online project documentation and any published articles or conference presentations either by or about the projects. The interview process has already been discussed. Physical artifacts included both print and online products of the projects.
An object oriented database package (WebArranger from CESoftware) was used to create a customised case study database. This was used to store the full text of interview transcripts, URLs for project homepages and related documents, contact addresses, and the dates and times of interviews and follow-up contacts. This information was all fully searchable and viewable in a number of ways.
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