Tips for collecting primary data in a Covid-19 era

June 2020
In the remote Brazilian Amazon, broadband enables access to information and collection of data.

In this live repository, we bring together experiences of, and resources for, collecting remote primary data in a Covid-19 era. These materials come from books, journal articles, newspaper articles, blogs and webpages, and include experiences of doing participatory, qualitative and quantitative research, through to ethical issues that may be faced and how to deal with them. This resource will be updated, and will draw on other organisations compiling similar lists. If you know of any useful resources, please send to Fiona Samuels at: [email protected]

Perspectives on doing remote participatory research

Glassman, M. (2019) ‘The internet as a context for participatory action research’ Education and Information Technologies 1–21. [Available via ResearchGate.]

Jones, N., Gebeyehu, Y., Gezahegne, K., et al. (2020) ‘Exploring adolescents' experiences and priorities in Ethiopia under covid-19’. Policy Brief. London: GAGE/ODI (

Lupton, D. (ed.) (2020) ‘Doing fieldwork in a pandemic’. Crowd-sourced document (

NVivo (2020) ‘On-demand webinar: COVID-19 and doing virtual fieldwork’. Hosted by Deborah Lupton, supported by NVivo (

Russonello, G. and Lyall, S. (2020) ‘Surprising poll results: people are now happy to pick up the phone’. New York Times, 17 April (

Tamí-Maury, I., Brown, L., Lapham, H. and Chang, S. (2017) ‘Community-based participatory research through virtual communities’ Journal of Communication in Healthcare 10(3): 188–194.

Practical guidance on secondary and remote data collection

Archibald, M., Ambagtsheer, R.C., Casey, M.G. and Lawless, M. (2019) ‘Using Zoom videoconferencing for qualitative data collection: perceptions and experiences of researchers and participants’ International Journal of Qualitative Methods 18 (

Braun, V., Clarke, V. & Gray, D. (eds) (2017) Collecting qualitative data: a practical guide to textual, media and virtual techniques. Cambridge University Press. [Includes coverage of ethical issues.]

Buelo, A., Kirk, A. and Jepson, R. (2020) ‘A novel research method for workshops and co-production of knowledge: using a secret Facebook group’. Research Square (

Deakin, H. and Wakefield, K. (2014) ‘Skype interviewing: reflections of two PhD researchers’ Qualitative Research 14(5): 603–616 ( [Also relevant for Zoom, WhatsApp, etc.]

Drabble, L., Trocki, K., Salcedo, B., et al. (2016) ‘Conducting qualitative interviews by telephone: lessons learned from a study of alcohol use among sexual minority and heterosexual women’ Qualitative Social Work 15(1): 118–133 (

Chaudhuri, T. (2020) ‘Collecting data during COVID-19: how do we address data quality?’. Blog (

Fielding, N.G., Lee, R.M. and Blank, G. (eds) (2016) The SAGE handbook of online research methods, 2nd edn. London: Sage.

Hanna, P. (2012) ‘Using internet technologies (such as Skype) as a research medium: a research note’ Qualitative Research 12(2): 239–242 (

Holt, A. (2010) ‘Using the telephone for narrative interviewing: a research note’ Qualitative Research 10(1): 113–121 (

James, N. & Busher, H. (2006) ‘Credibility, authenticity and voice: dilemmas in online interviewing’ Qualitative Research 6(3): 403–420 (

Jowett, A. (2015) ‘A case for using online discussion forums in critical psychological research’ Qualitative Research in Psychology 12(3): 287–297 (

Jowett, A., Peel, E. and Shaw, R. (2011) ‘Online interviewing in psychology: reflections on the process’ Qualitative Research in Psychology 8(4): 354–369 (

Kornbluh, M., Neal, J.W. and Ozer, E.J. (2016) ‘Scaling‐up youth‐led social justice efforts through an online school‐based social network’ American Journal of Community Psychology 57(3–4): 266–279 (

Lloyd, S. & Lorenz, L. (2020) ‘Can I do a photovoice project remotely? Yes, you can!’. Webpage. PhotovoiceWorldwide (

Lo Iacono, V., Symonds, P. and Brown, D.H. (2016) ‘Skype as a tool for qualitative research interviews’ Sociological Research Online 21(2): 1–15 (

Magnani, N. and Magnani, M. (2020) 'Material methods for a rapid-response anthropology'. Special Section Article (

Marwick, A.E. (2014) ‘Ethnographic and qualitative research on Twitter’ in K. Weller, A. Bruns, C. Puschmann, et al. (eds) Twitter and society, 109–122. New York: Peter Lang (

Murray, L. (2012) ‘Online opportunities for mobile and visual research’ in C.N. Silva (ed.) Online research methods in urban and planning studies: design and outcomes. IGI-Global. [Email module coordinator for access.]

Poynter, R. (ed.) (2010) The handbook of online and social media research: tools and techniques for market researchers. John Wiley & Sons.

Roberts, S., Snee, H., Hine, C., et al. (eds) (2016) Digital methods for social science: an interdisciplinary guide to research innovation. Springer.

Sloan, L. and Quan-Haase, A. (eds) (2017) The SAGE handbook of social media research methods. London: Sage.

Speyer, A. (2020) Remote survey toolkit: Prepare in response to COVID-19. 60 Decibels (

Stewart, K. & Williams, M. (2005) ‘Researching online populations: the use of online focus groups for social research’ Qualitative Research 5(4): 395–416 (

United Nations Development Programme – UNDP (2018) WhatsApp surveying guide: lessons learnt from two qualitative WhatsAapp surveys in Lebanon. UNDP (

Von Engelhardt, J. and Jones, L. (2020) ‘Using mobile phone surveys to track resilience and post-disaster recovery: a how-to guide’. Toolkit. London: BRACED/ODI (

Ethical issues/guidance and quality concerns

Some of the references above mention these issues and concerns, but the references below focus primarily on them.

British Psychological Society (2017) Ethics guidelines for internet-mediated research. INF206/04.2017. Leicester: BPS (

Chaudhuri, T. (2020) ‘Collecting data during COVID-19: how do we address data quality?’. Blog (

Franzke, A.S., Bechmann, A., Zimmer, M., Ess, C. and the Association of Internet Researchers (2020) Internet research: ethical guidelines 3.0 (

James, N. & Busher, H. (2006) ‘Credibility, authenticity and voice: dilemmas in online interviewing’. Qualitative Research 6(3): 403–420 (

Roberts, L.D. (2015) ‘Ethical issues in conducting qualitative research in online communities’ Qualitative Research in Psychology 12(3): 314–325 (

Examples of information sheets and consent forms

Marston, H. and Earle, S. (2020) ‘Participant information sheet’. In the COVID-19: technology, self-isolation, loneliness & leisure activities study ( in [Note the section ‘Risk of harm’ and the ‘thank you’ text.]

Repositories at other organisations

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). ‘Best practices for conducting phone surveys’. Webpage, live updates ( [Resource drawing on their networks of expertise for best practices in switching from in-person to surveying online or via phone.]

IDinsight. ‘How to maximise phone surveys for remote data collection’. Blog (

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). ‘RECOVR research projects’. Webpage ( [Repository of questionnaires and projects that have started running Covid-19-specific surveys.]

International Initiative for Imapct Evaluation (3ie). ‘Phone surveys in developing countries need an abundance of caution’. Blog ( [List of reasons to be extra thoughtful during Covid-19 about whether the remote data collection should take place.]

ODI/GAGE – Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence ( [GAGE are preparing a number of resources to support research during the Covid-19 era.]

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNSD). ‘Carrying out a telephone survey under the impact of COVID-19 – what to consider’. Blog (

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). ‘Surveys under lockdown; a pandemic lesson’. Stats Brief (

World Bank Blogs. ‘Mobile phone surveys for understanding COVID-19 impacts: Part I Sampling and mode’. Webpage ( [Includes a table comparing phone, interactive voice response (IVR) and sms surveys.]