Mobile research – specifically, research by way of smartphone technology – has become a widely used and accepted design option for conducting qualitative and survey research. The advantages of the mobile mode are many, not the least of which are: the high incidence of smartphone ownership in the U.S. (more than 60% in 2015), the ubiquitous influence smartphones have on our lives, the dependence people have on their smartphones as their go-to channel for communicating and socializing, and the features of the smartphone that offer a variety of response formats (e.g., text, video, image) and location-specific (e.g., geo-targeting, geo-fencing) capabilities.
From a research design perspective, there are also several limitations to the mobile mode, including: the small screen of the smartphone (making the design of standard scale and matrix questionnaire items – as well as the user experience overall – problematic), the relatively short attention span of the respondent or participant precipitated by frequent interruptions, the potential for errors due to the touch screen technology, and connectivity issues.
Another important yet often overlooked concern with mobile research is the potential for bias associated with the smartphone response format and location features mentioned earlier. Researchers have been quick to embrace the ability to capture video and photographs as well as location information yet they have not universally exercised caution when integrating these features into their research designs. For example, a recent webinar in which a qualitative researcher presented the virtues of mobile qualitative research – esp., for documenting in-the-moment experiences – espoused the advantages of Read Full Text
Research Design Review is a blog devoted to qualitative and quantitative research design issues. Yet, there is an imbalance in these discussions with many of the posts dedicated to qualitative design and methods. The reason boils down to the fact that there is simply a lot to say about qualitative design. And this is because relatively little is written or discussed in the research community in answer to such questions as, “What is the basis of sound qualitative research design?” “What are the necessary components to a ‘quality’ qualitative design?” and “How does the researcher effectively put into practice these quality design elements?” These are the questions routinely addressed among dedicated survey researchers yet too often absent in the qualitative orbit.
An underlying current running throughout RDR is the idea that quality design issues are important to all research, regardless of whether the researcher leans more to the qualitative or to the quantitative side of the equation. Pushing this idea one step further, there is an even more subtle suggestion lingering in RDR that researchers might do well to free themselves from their qualitative or quantitative “hats” and instead take on the mantle of Read Full Text
At the 2015 AAPOR conference in Florida, Paul Lavrakas and I taught a short course on qualitative research design. The bulk of the class was spent on applying the unique constructs and techniques associated with the Total Quality Framework (TQF) to five qualitative research methods – in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, ethnography, qualitative content analysis, and case-centered research (i.e., case study and narrative research). But before jumping into the application of the TQF, we began by talking about the distinctive attributes of qualitative research, particularly the emphasis on context and interconnectedness that is inherent in qualitative data. Indeed, we stressed the complexity – the “messiness” – of qualitative data collection and analysis, along with the unparalleled researcher skills (such as flexibility) needed to perform high-quality and ultimately useful qualitative research.
This course was one of a handful of discussions pertaining to qualitative research at a conference that is heavily weighted toward survey methods. As both a Read Full Text