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.