Accessing Research Participants Remotely: Lessons for Survey and Interview-Based Research

Abstract

What challenges are faced in securing research participants in online social research? This case study reflects on four research projects, two completed in 2020 and two completed in 2021. Each of these applied research projects accessed participants remotely, some by design, others after adaptation. One study was survey research, one was based on in-depth interviews, one was the survey component of a mixed method project, and the other was a mixed method project comprising a survey and in-depth interviews. Securing research participation was more challenging than envisaged, but steps were taken to ensure that research objectives could be met. A key concern in each project was to be able to position the participating population against the broader population from which they were drawn. Sometimes the aim was to achieve a representative sample, at others times it was to demonstrate research “reach” across a diverse population. The case study will reflect on the experiences, sharing the “backstage” decisions that were made, describing the alternative approaches that were introduced, and explaining how each of these research projects achieved its objective.

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