4 Digital Strategies to Facilitate
Qualitative Data Collection

Team LiGRE

May 11, 2020

Like many people, you may be short on resources, time or energy for your qualitative data collection. The LiGRE team has looked at some digital data collection strategies that you can try now to further your thesis.

1. Creating a qualitative survey
An interview remains one of the most basic methods to enquire about participants’ experience. However, a well-designed questionnaire can also be an effective way to obtain large amounts of qualitative data for many subjects.

To create a qualitative questionnaire, use open-ended questions with plenty of space for participants to write personalized responses. Then, be sure to test the questions verbally with a few people. This will allow you to check if this format encourages participants to provide the information you are looking for. If you find yourself asking follow-up questions, you could add them to your online questionnaire.

When you create an online questionnaire, the order in which questions are asked is important for optimal completion by respondents. You will notice that most online questionnaires begin with simple multiple-choice questions. This gives the respondent the impression that the survey is easy and short, and is less intimidating than a question asking for a paragraph-long response at the outset. You should also take into consideration the length of your questionnaire. The shorter it is, the more likely it is to be completed.

At the analysis stage, you can export responses and codify them or carry out an analysis in the word cloud.

2. Conducting interviews and focus groups around the world
For certain subjects, contact with participants is important. Videoconferencing platforms available on the web enable you to conduct your interviews with people scattered around the world. This approach can help you to conduct research that draws heavily on the experiences of people living in other countries, provided language is not a barrier. There is a lot of software available to facilitate videoconferencing.

To recreate the impact of a focus group, you can use a similar technique and conduct it by videoconference. It is also possible to use the basic approach of a focus group, but without a time constraint. This type of discussion can last for several days and often has a format similar to a forum. Participants can express their ideas pertaining to covered topics when they have time, during a given period. However, this method generally promotes less interaction between participants. Conducting an online focus group has a lot of similarities with face-to-face versions, with a few variations.

3. Recruiting participants through… participation!
Distributing a 25-question long-form survey and placing it on social media may not provide you with the results you are looking for. To ensure that participants are motivated to respond to your study, take their time into consideration, based on the medium you are using to communicate with them. The content generally consumed on social media is easy to distribute, but users expect to consume it quickly and can be put off if too much is asked of them.

However, if you contact participants directly by email, they may be impacted and be ready to invest more time in your study.

Moreover, it may be interesting to combine a brief approach to a detailed approach to obtain better quality responses. A good example of this would be to distribute a short multiple-choice questionnaire on social media, where your ask participants to give you their email at the end, to participate in the second part of the survey. Then, contact qualified participants to complete a second, longer questionnaire, a videoconference interview or a focus group.

4. Pay attention to what internet users are already saying
Through blogs, forums and social media, internet users already actively discuss about a wide range of subjects! Why not use existing data sources to power your research?

This type of research is particularly useful to carry out thematic analyses related to a particular topic.To achieve this, you can use social media search engines that enable you to quickly find content related to that theme. Searches already exist owing to data on Twitter and other social media, such as these.