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Participatory, Observation & Face to Face Research Methods for Researchers at the University of Edinburgh

Savadova, Sabina; Black, Suzanne; Andries, Valentina; Otty, Lisa; Edgson, Geoffrey

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, researchers around the world have had to shift to digital domains to generate data, redesign their studies, and rethink the ways in which they engage with participants. Substituting face-to-face with digital methods presents both opportunities and challenges for researchers at all phases of the research process. For example, research participants may gain more power and agency within the researcherresearched relationship framework, and participants may be drawn from a wider geographical and social field. There may also be greater flexibility in when and where research takes place: the use of multimodal software for engaging with participants has allowed researchers to receive information from their participants at the times and in the forms convenient for them. However, researchers have not always been able to reach or create and maintain engagement with participants due to, for example, inequalities in access to digital technologies or reliable internet connections. It can be harder to access vulnerable and marginalised groups, who don’t have access to or experience with devices and software, and ensuring participant confidentiality and privacy can be a more complex process. Additionally, participants with disabilities might face extra challenges using certain technologies. This document aims to provide guidance for doctoral and early career researchers at the University of Edinburgh on remote data generation in circumstances when conducting fieldwork involving qualitative participatory methods and physical engagement is not possible. It was developed via desk-based research, case studies of existing work at the University of Edinburgh, and a workshop.

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