Mobile apps for qualitative research, or, the app that never was

About a year and a half ago, I got obsessed with an idea for a mobile ethnography app (iResearch?) that I sketched out and explored the feasibility of getting developed. I eventually decided it was a bad idea which would cost £5000-£15000 to develop. This was probably for the best. I’m certain a thousand other people had the idea and the odds of me losing a load of money which I didn’t have were far too great.

I hadn’t thought about it for ages until I stumbled across this earlier. Upon closer inspection, it’s a little different from what I had in mind (intended for participants rather than ethnographers):

Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 18.51.04

Are there any dedicated ethnography apps? My simple idea was to develop something that used the native functionality of the iPhone (text notes, photos, videos, voice notes etc) and time/date stamped them, with the intention of maximising the speed with which items could be made and retrieved. Rob O’Toole (who I would link to but seems to have vanished from Twitter) suggested getting it built as a front end for Evernote. Perhaps I should have listened to him.

3 responses to “Mobile apps for qualitative research, or, the app that never was”

  1. The Liveminds platform is designed as a slightly broader offering. It’s for researchers looking to run qualitative research projects using online and mobile channels. Taking mobile specifically, this means that researchers set questions that are answered by participants via the Liveminds smartphone app (currently available on iOS and Google Android). The app uses as many of the native features of the smartphone as possible such as the keyboard – with an interface similar to text messaging – or, the camera – for submitting video or image responses. We use the term “auto-ethnography” to refer to a technique whereby researcher directs the participant to respond by talking on camera. This means the participant is using the smartphone camera to narrate and bring to life what they are doing, while they are doing it in the environment they would normally do it in. For example, if the subject of the research is a sauce used in cooking, the questions might ask participants to talk to camera in their own kitchen while they prepare their meal using the sauce. It might ask for specific focus on several moments, such as when the sauce is opened and mixed with ingredients, when the dish comes out of the oven, or the first taste, for instance. David Cairns / Liveminds.

  2. I think it would be really simple to build a anthrolab or so on, to which people could publish experiments would work really well – but could it work “across” unis?

  3. I don’t know, I think it depends a lot on research styles and traditions – as a qualitative researcher, I can’t see much of use to me in something like Fig Share, even in terms of my experience of working in relatively big qualitative projects.

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