Using technology in research

Yesterday I conducted a Skype call interview. This is my first interview over Skype so I was a little concerned about how it was going to pan out. I found a free application call note to record it, here, which works really great, links to my dropbox and its free. The interview was great and technology worked great and saved me a trip to another city which I could not afford financially and time wise.

Now about the Skype call, I had to conduct the interview without the video because my connection cannot handle video calls. The result was that the usual gestures and cues I use to encourage a person to continue telling their story and show them that I am actively listening such as nodding my head and different facial expressions (weird) were not suitable. I had to remember to replace nodding with for example “uhhm”, “I see”, “thats interesting” without breaking the flow. Apart from this need to vocalize my prompts and active listening gestures I found that the interview was as good as any I have conducted in the quiet corner of a coffee shop. The lack of a video link was not so much of a disadvantage as I had imagined. It gave a freedom to be naughty, care less about my facial expressions, the crazy one that you make when trying to remember an important or what seems like an important question at that moment.

Adding to the excitement of that call, is the new found application for recording Skype calls. I found Callnote through google and its FREE! What gets me even more excited is that it can link to my dropbox and the interview is uploaded instantly. So that was my use of technology in my fieldwork that got me excited.

The downside of this is that the internet is central to making a Skype call and one cannot take it for granted that it will be readily available. A faulty line got me into a three week forced fast of the internet in February. So I know all too well the risks of using technology. This makes me glad I do not have to depend on it for most of my fieldwork. Hope to be posting soon about transcribing and technology

How have you used technology in your fieldwork? Any challenges or risks you foresee? What are the benefits and advantages of the technology you have used?


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This entry was posted in data management, fieldwork, interviews, methods, PhD life, Uncategorized, using technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Using technology in research

  1. Science Buddy says:

    Thats funny, I just had an online interview last friday. We used GoToMeeting, which is exceptionally easy to use, share screen and in my case to allow the other three participants (all in different country) to see my presentation. I agree, keeping the listeners awake might be hard but I made sure they were on the same page by asking questions ca. every third slide. Good post.

  2. tj says:

    I have done some interviews on Skype – when the connection is good I have found it working well, but I’ve had a couple of interviews that have been affected by a poor connection. One we ended up finishing the conversation via Skype chat, which was less than ideal! But it has saved money on trips and enabled me to interview more people outside of my area. So both pros and cons… I didn’t know about the recording software so thanks for that tip! (I have just put my normal recorder next to the speaker)

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