How to Use Online Probes for Social Science Research


Online probes are an informal digital method where participants respond to open-ended tasks communicated by any combination of website, social media, apps, and email.

This How-to Guide provides a summary of cultural probes, the development of online probes, and the overlaps and differences between these. It highlights some of the key methodological and disciplinary shifts as cultural probes (and more recently, online probes) have evolved across the fields of design and interdisciplinary social science. Following this overview, this guide focuses on providing practical help with formulating, designing, and evaluating engaging online probes. Drawing on research examples of online probes developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the guide covers key factors for researchers to consider when choosing or designing an appropriate online platform and supports readers in thinking through the pros and cons of using online probes.

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