Research Challenges and Adaptations During COVID-19: From Face-to-Face Qualitative Interviewing to Online Interviewing


As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, the PERCEPTIONS Project (titled Understand the Impact of Narratives and Perceptions of Europe on Migration and Providing Practices, Tools and Guides for Practitioners) was actively continuing to engage in research. This case study discusses the challenges of redesigning research activities intended to be conducted face-to-face, into online or mixed-mode implementation. After providing some background information about the project, it describes and discusses how the initial plan and design for the qualitative research part, based on semi-structured interviews to be conducted simultaneously in 12 countries (16 sites) with 3 different profiles of interviewees, was reformulated. This restructuring was guided by practical principles adopted on an ad hoc basis in order to meet the research objectives, but always adhering to strict ethical standards. Two dimensions of the fieldwork were particularly challenging, and our deliberations, reflections, and guiding solutions on them are the focus of this case study. The first tricky issues were the strategies for sampling and recruitment of participants; the second one was the introduction of online interviewing tools that led to concerns about the content of the interviews themselves. Our final challenge was the cohabitation of online visual platforms and face-to-face fieldwork. In order to help partners in that process, we compiled in a document their doubts and questions, offering answers intended to guide, as best we could and knew how, along the new path. Our reflections and experiences may be valuable for future researchers in a similar situation and could also serve to support the design and implementation of projects using a mixed-tool approach.

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