Welcome to Part 4: Visual and Verbal Interviews: Conducting Research in Meeting or Videoconference Spaces!
This is a Q & A and discussion about Chapters 8-10.
The researchers for these chapters chose to use videocalls-- such as Skype- or online meeting spaces- such as Elluminate (now BlackBoard Collaborate) or some combination of technologies.
Videocalls allow researcher and participant to see each other. The researcher may use this exchange to observe the participant and collect data about non-verbal cues, affective responses and/or expressions. The chat area can also be used for posting questions or sharing links or other notes related to the interview.
Or the researcher can simply use it as a free VOIP communication for audio, when telephone interviews are too expensive.
The multichannel meeting space contains all of the above and more, in terms of communications options.It allows for videoconferencing and chat. As well, the shared whiteboard allows for many other interview options.The web tour function allows researcher or participant to view and discuss websites that represent some aspect of the research phenomenon
One element of the E-interview Research Framework is the Typology of Online Visual Interview Methods. This model explains that research participants can share and view images of the phenomena of the study, or generate images within the interview. These approaches can be used to communicate abstract ideas with visuals such as diagrams or visual maps. Visual elicitation techniques common to fields like sociology and anthropology can be used, with images or media generated by researcher or participants. Visual generation, creating images within the interview, allows participants to respond visually to the question, drawing or mapping a response to the interview question. Some of these techniques are used in the interviews conducted by contributors to Cases in Online Interview Research.
If you are interested in visual interviews, please note that an entire chapter of Online Interviews in Real Time is dedicated to the topic. Also, I recently recorded a presentation made at the TQR conference. You can view the presentation and download the handout.
Please post your thoughts and questions about using live, visual ICTs for research interviews? If you've conducted interviews using these tools-- or are considering it-- please share your ideas so we can learn about them.
With regard to interviewing and Skype how does IRB perceive this in terms of consent? I will be requesting my participants to fill out informed consents and treat it as a face-to-face interview. If anybody has done this I would like to know. Also, is IRB
I have been following the threads but have to work on my revisions from the SMR reviewer so I am swamped.
Each university will have its own interpretation of research ethics when it comes to online interviews. To improve your ability to succeed with your Institutional Review Board approval, here are a few tips:
- How will you use the webcam? Clearly define how you plan to use visual data. You can see the person-- how will you use those observations? Are you interested in non-verbal signals and affective responses? You could choose, for example, to review the recorded interview and use a notation system to record types of non-verbal expressions that are conveyed throughout the interview.
Or, you could be looking for other visual information about the setting, what you can see in the interview. (Perhaps you are studying home office workers and work-life balance, and your participants use the webcam to show you around....)
If you are choosing Skype to do research that includes visual data, you need to explain it in your research design and in your recruitment/consent documents. If you are simply planning to focus on audio, or even audio with notes in text chat, then you will need to explain how you will bracket your own impressions of the participant in the video window-- or simply use voice only, essentially like a phone interview.
- Does your target population have access to Skype? In the opening webinar I spoke about the difference between using online interviews to research online phenomena or "real world" phenomena. If you are studying something Internet-related you can assume that the participants have online access etc. If you are studying something else, you need to be sure you are not skewing the sample by choosing online interviews. I'd suggest, in that case, describing your target sample (i.e. high school social studies teachers in rural areas, small-business retailers) then look for information about online access and usage for that group to support your rationale for using Skype for the interview.
If you want everyone to use a webcam, you'll want to include that in your inclusion criteria for participation.
I appreciate the thorough tips. I have yet to encounter Capella's IRB but it will be happening soon. I do find this phenomenon of online research & interviewing so fascinating and glad I am able to participate in it. I know it is still fairly new to the research arena but it grows everyday. I have defined and described my target population and it is a total virtual community and the population is world-wide. I may do what Nellie did and omit the video part (or just have it as an option) and just use audio but will get permission to do both. The webinar was very informing as well.
I generally suggest a consistent approach. So either use the video, or not. Advantages, besides non-verbal cues, include the greater potential for synchronicity...in Cases I discuss the degree of focus regardless of whether or not the tools allow for real-time exchange. Simply, if you can see the person you know they are there paying attention, and not trying to chat with 3 other people! For one thing, you then know whether the person is thinking about the answer, or doing something else.
I think the visual exchange helps to create a natural exchange and build trust and rapport. So even if you are not specifically collecting data about the nonverbal cues, facial expressions etc., you can use the video part to further your process.
ok, so I left off the last part of the post. I was asking if the IRB is current with online research, virtual communities, etc? Do they have any information in this area where one can go read about it? I ask becasue the Internet is really a hot bed for research and I do not know much about the IRB but do know you have to get past them. It would be nice to think that they are well versed in all aspects of research as it evolves.
While there are common guidelines, members of IRB committees rotate so some members may have more e-research background than others. I advocate for very clear explanations of the research design and intentions so anyone can understand it.
The CITI Modules include one on Internet Research that includes some basic aspects of Internet research ethics.
I think ethics is a really important point. I've done a number of interviews over Skype for research. There may be issues in how you prepare for these interviews as well as how you conduct them. For example, one case I had required obtaining phone or email contact details to organise the skype interview. Some students gave their mobile phone numbers so there are ethical issues in storing and using that personal information. Then there are ethical issues in how many times you contact them before they might see it as being a nuisance. I store all that information on record to protect everyone involved.
When you organise a skype interview I start by reading a statement setting out the purpose, duration and structure of the interview and I tell them how the data will be transcribed and stored and who will have access to it. I then provide them with contact details verbally and by email/SMS afterwards so they know who to contact if they have any issues over the way the research is being conducted.
Only once that's been done do I actually do the interview. After that its just like a phone call (plus or minus any pictures). There are a whole other set of ethical issues raised when you don't know the interviewee but I'll save that for another time maybe.
University of Glasgow
Really like the process you outline, Nicholas. Thanks for making the process explicit.
I'll use your process myself.
David, you are really welcome and I'm glad if it helped. Let me know how it went if you do adopt that approach. I think its really interesting looking at this kind of setup where an organisation like Scope hosts public/open seminars. You are welcome to use my comments as data but there is, in some contexts, a whole raft of issues to do with ethics here.
For instance, I would be thinking about how you would understand the data from different sources in such settings. By this I mean, who owns it or does not own it and for what purposes might it be used? You might also ask about my rights to regard this as usable data versus yours or anyone elses. These are potentially big issues because they raise different perspectives on the notion of giving and obtaining consent for such data to be used. Are we opening up new ethical issues if we regard this as 'open' data? I am working on a project and co-writing materials that would argue that we are already creating new ethical issues in these new formats and environments. It's really interesting actually (well it is to someone as sad as me anyway).
Anyway, these are all interesting issues but for now you may have enough stuff to deal with ;-) Good luck with it all and have fun. Let me know how it goes if you use it as well.
I really appreciate the information and the outline you provided and needless to say I will keep it close at hand. I know interviewing cannot be perfect but I do not want to make as few mistakes as possible when it comes to the participants. I want to be prepared as best I can. This is unknown territory for me so I am gathering as much information as I can.
You're really welcome Ila and good luck with it. I should also have mentioned that before any of that is done it should go past your equivalent of an ethics committee for approval. If it involves other organisations or universities then they should be invited to approve it as well before continuing. A lot depends upon the context in which you carry out your research.
Also when you've briefed the interviewee you should let them know that they are welcome to withdraw from the research interview at any time during the interview with no consequences for them or their work.
Coincidentally, I am involved in writing some guidelines for ethics in social media and other technologies. That would include student-generated materials, immersive environments like Second Life etc. Those environments can add substantially to the ethical issues raised for researchers. That could constitute a whole seminar or course on their own so I won't drag on about it here.
It would be interesting to me if you would like to share something more about your context and your planned research. Who are your audience/sample, for instance?
Either way, the very best of luck and enjoy it too. I think the fieldwork is often the most fun initially.
My planned research is a virtual community of practice (VCoP)/doctoral support group. The doctoral students are at various phases in the dissertation process. My methodology is netnography (online ethnography) just in case you are not familiar with it. The premise of the study is to analyze why these doctoral students seek peer-to-peer help in a VCoP outside of ther home institution. I will be a participant-observer and the community has about 950 active members. I would have loved to conduct this in Second Life but I found it a bit hard to navigate (user issues :-) and need to take more time to become more involved. Thanks for asking!