Remote Research: Making it Work and Why You Should Make it Part of Your Post-Pandemic Research Plan
Event Type
Oral Presentations
TimeThursday, April 1511:40am - 12:00pm EDT
LocationMedical and Drug Delivery Devices
DescriptionDesigning remote research presents a myriad of challenges, such as overcoming the impersonal connection of video calls, creating sharable stimuli, and collecting high-quality data with a limited camera set up. But in this past year, many of us have had to adapt our in-person human factors studies to remote settings due to a global pandemic. It takes flexibility and patience to effectively execute remote research, but given these demands, what is the role of remote research in a post-pandemic world?

It turns out that there are unexpected advantages to remote research, and in this presentation, we will present three areas of consideration when designing a remote study and suggestions for types of studies where remote research may be particularly advantageous. We will draw from our experience completing various remote studies over the last year (ranging from early-stage contextual inquiries to labeling evaluation and validation to concept refinement formative studies) to address the unique challenges faced, as well as the benefits that were discovered. The considerations that will be discussed are as follows:

-Stimuli/Supply Management: In a typical in-person study, participants walk into the usability lab where all supplies and stimuli have already been prepared for them. However, in order to evaluate study materials effectively over the past year, we have had to navigate the challenges of shipping logistics, security of proprietary information, creating sharable 2D stimuli, the safety of the participants, and the absence of control. Through overcoming these challenges, we discovered the ease of counterbalancing stimuli with remote participants and the benefits of increased realism afforded by evaluating at-home medical devices in their intended environments.

-Data Collection: Remote research does not benefit from the same opportunity for multiple camera angles and recording devices as research conducted in traditional usability labs. To ensure that the correct data is being captured, we have had to utilize new software to record sessions and adapt the typical script to ensure the single camera view is able to record the data necessary for the study. While this may be a disadvantage for some studies, for contextual inquiries or studies that can adapt to 2D stimuli, a webcam-recorded interview allows for higher quality audio and a platform where the client can be just as close to the participant as the moderator, which can allow for a better understanding of the feedback being collected.

-Remote Participation: As mentioned above, remote research awards an added realism to the evaluation of at-home medical devices and medications, but with the disadvantage of a loss of control. This loss of control included unexpected variables such as distractions in the participants’ environments, connectivity issues, and the added stressor of participants needing to use software they may be unfamiliar with. However, despite these challenges, we discovered that conducting research remotely can make it easier to recruit geographically diverse or possibly immunocompromised populations in a much shorter time, due to fewer obstacles that participants need to overcome to participate (e.g., accessibility challenges, logistical hurdles, transportation time, etc.).