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HI-FI OR LO-FI?Technology in diary studies
WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?
WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.
WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.It takes place in the participant’s natural environme...
WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.It takes place in the participant’s natural environme...
WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.It takes place in the participant’s natural environme...
PAPER DIARIES
PAPER DIARIESPrinted sheet or book.
PAPER DIARIESPrinted sheet or book.Moderators meet participants frequently.
PAPER DIARIESPrinted sheet or book.Moderators meet participants frequently.Can be used with other non-digital approaches.
ADVANTAGES OF PAPERNo training.
ADVANTAGES OF PAPERNo training.Less likely to affect participation.
ADVANTAGES OF PAPERNo training.Less likely to affect participation.Few limits on range of feedback.
DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.
DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.Monitoring frequently also increases intrusion.
DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.Monitoring frequently also increases intrusion.Less likely to get timely f...
DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.Monitoring frequently also increases intrusion.Less likely to get timely f...
ALTERNATIVES
ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.
ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.Blogs allow diary entries to be submitted online.
ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.Blogs allow diary entries to be submitted online.Social media such as Twitte...
ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.Blogs allow diary entries to be submitted online.Social media such as Twitte...
DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGES
DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.
DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.Entries can be posted and received in real-time.
DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.Entries can be posted and received in real-time.Monitoring is dramaticall...
DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.Entries can be posted and received in real-time.Monitoring is dramaticall...
DIGITAL DIARY: DISADVANTAGES
DIGITAL DIARY: DISADVANTAGESTools may affect participant recruitment.
DIGITAL DIARY: DISADVANTAGESTools may affect participant recruitment.Participants can only feedback using the tools availa...
IT ISN’T PAPER VS DIGITALEven though I’ve discussed it that way.It’s a continuum - mix what works.
THANK YOULee McIvor@leemcivorleemcivor.co.uk
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Diary studies: Alternative approaches

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Comparing and contrasting paper and digital approaches to implementing diary studies.

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  • \n
  • What are the key elements of a diary study? We need to define what is essential to the method, as opposed to being a feature of the implementation.\n\n
  • It takes place over an extended period of time, typically anything from 1 week to 1 month, sometimes longer.\n\nThis is beneficial because it can help you understand behavioural change over time.\n\nFor example a study I conducted a couple of years ago for an online grocery company helped them to understand how new customers became regular customers, and what changed in their actual behaviour from one state to the other.\n
  • Participants are involved in the study in their natural context - not in a lab. This gives us different feedback that you wouldn’t get in a lab situation.\n\nIt’s based around the philosophical construct of “situated cognition”, which basically posits that human knowledge isn’t something that exists independently of context, but within it.\n
  • The data gathered is primarily qualitative. There is scope for quantitative data too. If you are seeking purely quantitative data, then other methods such as surveys might be better.\n\nObviously a diary gives you a much less time-intensive way of understanding usage of a product or service over time, without the work of actually following them about for 4 weeks waiting for that moment when they interact with something you’re interested in, so it can save money too.\n
  • So these are the things that make the study what it is. Beyond this it’s all about approach, and we should be flexible about that as long as it fits the points I’ve just mentioned, and doesn’t impact on the quality or relevance of the feedback.\n
  • As we’ve discussed, the paper approach is traditional so let’s start with that.\n
  • Paper diaries - traditional sheets of paper or books to fill in with a pen or pencil.\n\n
  • In order to ensure they’re on the right track, and also to gain more feedback on entries, moderators will typically meet participants face-to-face to take the diary entries and discuss the details.\n
  • Disposable cameras have become more commonly used in conjunction with paper diary studies. Disposable cameras are cheap, simple to use and convenient.\n\nYou can also include any other kind of stimuli you like in a pack, like the one on screen, and send it to your participants. In these cases they are often known as “cultural probes”, though I’m hard-pressed to see any significant differences in the overall method.\n
  • Everyone recognises pen and paper and knows how to use it. Anything else other than paper might well require training or instructions.\n
  • By that I mean that it shouldn’t affect who you are able to recruit for the study.\n\nYou will need to ensure that whatever tools you use, and this can apply to paper too, aren’t going to bias your sample.\n\nObviously everyone understands what pen and paper are for, but if you’re researching a target group of people with limited mobility in rural areas then using paper and expecting them to go to a postbox every week could bias your sample more than using email!\n\nIn most cases though, technology is more likely to be a barrier - if it is, stick with paper.\n
  • Participants can sketch an idea, a problem, a concept, etc. They can illustrate this however they like and in a way that suits them - unless your study design limits this of course.\n
  • Paper studies generally need frequent monitoring of feedback to ensure that diaries are being kept up to date as required.\nIf you require daily entries then you may well have to monitor individual participants daily too. If you don’t do this, you risk losing data because by the time you discover that a participant is not providing what you expected, you’ve already lost a significant amount of time.\n
  • You generally have to visit your participants in person to see what their entries are, unless as mentioned you wait for them to post them to you, which creates significant risks of its own.\n\nIn these cases you are interrupting your participant frequently during the study, which may or may not have an impact on the results, but is certainly a factor to consider. For example you could cause a learning effect whereby the participant gradually learns about the nature and subject of the study and tailors their responses to an extent that they falsely describe their behaviour.\n
  • Even where daily diaries are required, with the paper approach it’s difficult to know if a participant has completed their diary at the time of a particular incident or has just tried to remember the day’s activity and write it up in one go.\n\nIn the case of weekly diaries, my experience is that diaries are completed at the last minute - a bit like we probably all did our homework at school... In this case you’re relying on their memory of events earlier in the week.\n\nSelf-reported data is already an issue with diary studies, but you want to minimise that as much as possible by ensuring participants complete the diary at the time of the activity you’re interested in, or as close to it as possible.\n\n
  • I’ve mentioned the use of disposable cameras, but these can be bulky to carry around in addition to your diary. In reality you’re more limited in the variety of data from a paper diary. It’s usually your paper entry and perhaps a few photos.\n\nGood, but not great.\n
  • Any website or digital product or online service can be engaged in a digital diary, and as new ones emerge, there’s nothing to stop you trying them too.\n
  • With the variety of new devices available, using the web or email to take part in a diary is easier than ever.\n\nAlso, with the increasing prevalence of feature phones and smartphones, almost everyone has a digital camera and an ability to email photos sitting in their pocket or bag at all times.\n\nThese aren’t ways to manage a diary study directly, but their nature means that mobile, timely updates are easier for the participant to share, and fit more naturally within their daily activities. Filling in a paper diary through the day is unusual behaviour for most people, firing off an email from their ‘phone is probably less unusual.\n
  • Then there are blogs. Wordpress, Tumblr, and Posterous can all be used to post diary entries.\n
  • Twitter can be brought in too if your participants are comfortable with it.\nFacebook too, you can even use private elements of Facebook to create areas just for your study.\n\nThen there are a million other social tools out there - online photo services for example.\n
  • I’m sure there are other options too, but these are the things that I’ve used or could imagine might be used.\n\nGoogle Docs is another example, which allows you to set up forms and have them submitted directly to a spreadsheet. This is a great tool for structured data, and is quick easy and free to set up. I’ve used this for diary studies.\n
  • There are plenty of strengths of digital approaches.\n\n
  • The variety of inputs means you’ll almost always get richer feedback. Phones allow for photos to be taken anywhere, and emailed to you, emailed to a blog, shared on Facebook, or whatever.\n\nTwitter allows for quick messages, and blogs allow for longer posts. There is no physical diary, it’s wherever you’ve got access to an email client or a web browser. Note: If you do have a ‘phone, it doesn’t even matter if you can still take a photo or create an email with no internet connection and send it later, you can still record the event.\n
  • If a participant uses Twitter or Facebook, or sends you an email, you can track updates in real time. If a participant does send you a whole load of data in one go, at least you’re more likely to know.\n
  • If a participant sends you something that’s wildly off track, you know as soon as they create it. Coming back to my earlier example of a daily diary - if it’s posted daily, then you know that day.\n\nIf you want to let them know how to improve their feedback, you can post a comment if it’s a blog, or email them, or give them a call. You don’t need to be there in person to see what they’ve written or sent.\n
  • Primarily because monitoring feedback is so much easier and can be done remotely with much less time, it’ll save money.\n
  • Although I’m generally an advocate, there are reasons not to use these approaches.\n
  • I mentioned this briefly earlier. If your target group is unlikely to be familiar with a particular tool, or may have other reasons not to wish to use them, don’t.\n
  • Think about potential limitations of the tools themselves. If you use Twitter alone, you’re severely limiting the quality and depth of feedback you’ll get, and with all social media, there’s the impact of the culture that surrounds the use of the tool itself. It isn’t just a tool for your study, it may be something they use already for different purposes. This may colour the feedback you get.\n
  • I’ve contrasted the two approaches, but it isn’t a binary decision. You can combine elements of both, and in most cases that’s probably the best way.\n\nPaper studies can use photos via smartphones, or you can use Word documents sent via email, or you can use blogs AND paper diaries.\n\nLook at the pros and cons of each tool, don’t see it as mutually exclusive. Personally, I favour predominantly digital studies because they help me mitigate the problems of the diary study method without losing the benefits, but if you have a project that might benefit from paper, then go for it.\n
  • \n
  • Transcript of "Diary studies: Alternative approaches"

    1. 1. HI-FI OR LO-FI?Technology in diary studies
    2. 2. WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?
    3. 3. WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.
    4. 4. WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.It takes place in the participant’s natural environment.
    5. 5. WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.It takes place in the participant’s natural environment.Qualitative insight at a lower cost than a full observational study.
    6. 6. WHAT IS A DIARY STUDY?It takes place over an extended period of time.It takes place in the participant’s natural environment.Qualitative insight at a lower cost than a full observational study.
    7. 7. PAPER DIARIES
    8. 8. PAPER DIARIESPrinted sheet or book.
    9. 9. PAPER DIARIESPrinted sheet or book.Moderators meet participants frequently.
    10. 10. PAPER DIARIESPrinted sheet or book.Moderators meet participants frequently.Can be used with other non-digital approaches.
    11. 11. ADVANTAGES OF PAPERNo training.
    12. 12. ADVANTAGES OF PAPERNo training.Less likely to affect participation.
    13. 13. ADVANTAGES OF PAPERNo training.Less likely to affect participation.Few limits on range of feedback.
    14. 14. DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.
    15. 15. DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.Monitoring frequently also increases intrusion.
    16. 16. DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.Monitoring frequently also increases intrusion.Less likely to get timely feedback.
    17. 17. DISADVANTAGES OF PAPERTime intensive to monitor.Monitoring frequently also increases intrusion.Less likely to get timely feedback.Difficult to get rich feedback.
    18. 18. ALTERNATIVES
    19. 19. ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.
    20. 20. ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.Blogs allow diary entries to be submitted online.
    21. 21. ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.Blogs allow diary entries to be submitted online.Social media such as Twitter and Facebook can be useful.
    22. 22. ALTERNATIVESNew devices allow more flexibility.Blogs allow diary entries to be submitted online.Social media such as Twitter and Facebook can be useful.
    23. 23. DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGES
    24. 24. DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.
    25. 25. DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.Entries can be posted and received in real-time.
    26. 26. DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.Entries can be posted and received in real-time.Monitoring is dramatically simpler.
    27. 27. DIGITAL DIARY: ADVANTAGESData gathered is richer.Entries can be posted and received in real-time.Monitoring is dramatically simpler.It’s cheaper.
    28. 28. DIGITAL DIARY: DISADVANTAGES
    29. 29. DIGITAL DIARY: DISADVANTAGESTools may affect participant recruitment.
    30. 30. DIGITAL DIARY: DISADVANTAGESTools may affect participant recruitment.Participants can only feedback using the tools available.
    31. 31. IT ISN’T PAPER VS DIGITALEven though I’ve discussed it that way.It’s a continuum - mix what works.
    32. 32. THANK YOULee McIvor@leemcivorleemcivor.co.uk
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