(Crowdsourced document initiated and edited by Deborah Lupton in 2020; revised by Deborah Lupton 5 July 2021)

Isolation measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 means that social researchers who are used to doing fieldwork have had to consider ways for avoiding in-person interactions by using mediated forms (digital or non-digital) that will achieve similar ends. This crowdsourced document, initiated and edited by Deborah Lupton (who contributed the first tranche of content), has been put together by researchers who have added a range of diverse ideas for doing fieldwork in a pandemic.

Social research has been conducted online for many years, of course. There are many examples of using online survey tools or doing content analyses or ethnographies using existing online interactions as research materials. Interviews have been conducted by phone or Skype for a long time. This document was initially directed at ways for how to turn fieldwork that was initially planned as using face-to-face methods into a more ‘hands-off’ mode. However, people have added useful material about ‘born digital’ research (content already generated on the internet by online interactions), which provides an alternative source of social research materials if researchers decide to go down that path.

Please note that several methods outlined in this document can be carried out using approaches that are not online and therefore can be particularly useful in contexts where participants or researchers do not have reliable digital access or skills. See the list of recommended books on innovative methods on p. 35 for some further suggestions.

This document is now closed. If you’d like to make a copy, go to the File menu and click-on “Make a copy’.

Suggested citation:

Lupton, D. (editor) (2021) Doing fieldwork in a pandemic (crowd-sourced document), revised version. Available at: DOING FIELDWORK IN A PANDEMIC

Innovative Methods Webinar Series

Deborah Lupton has started a new YouTube webinar series, ‘Breaking Methods’, with short-form introductions to innovative methods. Link to the series is here.


Photo/Video/Voice Elicitation


Doing Online Interviews (added by Alexia Maddox)

Re-enactment Videos

Using Wearable Cameras (and other first-person perspective tech)

Epistolary (Asynchronous) Interviews

Online Discussion Platforms

Online, Synchronous, Video-Based Focus Group Interviews (added by Nathan Browning)

Cultural/Mobile Probes

The Story Completion Method

App-based Methods

Using Facebook Groups

Using Google/Microsoft Forms for Data Collection

The Ethics of Moving from Face-to-Face Fieldwork

Autoethnography (added by F. Güzin Agca-Varoglu)

Duoethnography (added by Vibeke Oestergaard Steenfeldt)

Autobiographical Design and Research-Through-Design (added by Cayla Key)

Netnography/Virtual Methods (added by Gabriella Wulff)

Digital Methods and Quali-Quant analysis (added by Anders Kristian Munk)

Using YouTube (and Online Video) for (Teaching) Observational Studies (added by Robin Smith)

Using Podcasts to Study Culture

Big Brother Style Observations

Experimenting with Online Live Action Role Play (O-LARPs) (added by Alex Taylor)

LSE Digital Ethnography Collective Reading List

Arts-based Project Combined with Skype Interviews (added by Nicole Brown)

Creating Social Media Platforms/ Groups for Research and Researching Social Media Platforms

Online Surveys, Virtual Interviews and Social Media Screenshots (Added by Jessica Ringrose and Kaitlynn Mendes)

Digital Mapping and Geospatial Technologies

Tracking/mapping how people use online systems and platforms to track movement or migration patterns, or to explore a particular phenomena

Live Streaming Apps

Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Using Internet Video Calling and Desktop Sharing as a Discrete Research Method

Recommended Books on Innovative and Creative Methods

Studying Europe online

Photo/Video/Voice Elicitation

A method that involves asking research participants to use a camera or voice recording app (often on their smartphone) to take photos or make videos or voice memos about their everyday practices and interactions that they can then share with the researchers. Researchers can provide them with questions or prompts to direct their recordings and documentations.


Ahlin, Tanja, and Fangfang Li (2019). From Field Sites to Field Events: Creating the field with information and communication technologies (ICTs). Medicine, Anthropology and Theory 6(2): 1-24.From field sites to field events | Medicine Anthropology Theory 

Harper, D. (2002) ‘Talking about pictures: a case for photo-elicitation’, Visual Studies, 17(1): 13–26.

Bates, E. A., McCann, J. J., Kaye, L. K., & Taylor, J. C. (2017). “Beyond words”: a researcher’s guide to using photo-elicitation in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 14(4), 459-481.

Copes, H., Tchoula, W., Brookman, F., & Ragland, J. (2018). Photo-elicitation interviews with vulnerable populations: practical and ethical considerations. Deviant Behavior, 39(4), 475-494.

Steenfeldt, V.O., Therkildsen, M. & Lind, J. (2019). Nursing students’ experiences of a challenging course: A photo-elicitation study. Nurse Education Today 76:31-37.


These methods can also be combined with asking participants to complete diaries or journals using pen and paper, voice memos or online platforms or apps. Diaries can also be combined with interviews and other methods, where sometimes the diary can act as a prompt for further discussion. Diaries can be structured (like questionnaire) and aiming for quantitative analysis, or semi- or unstructured - asking for more free-flowing reflection. Keeping in touch with participants is very important, especially for longer-term studies, as this maintains participation (attrition can be an issue). Also receiving some entries early on in the process and giving feedback may help as sometimes relevance can be an issue too. Diaries can be used over months or hours, depending on the focus of the study. They can use interval-based sampling (i.e. record something every hour or every day) or event-based (i.e. record something when it occurs, which may be more irregular). Diaries can take many different forms including visual, collage, photo-based as well as written or spoken - it is important to consider the participants and what they would find easy to use (ask them - piloting is essential) and also what you will be able to analyse within the analytical approach you have chosen.


On using “Digital diary”:

Ahlin, Tanja, and Fangfang Li (2019). From Field Sites to Field Events: Creating the field with information and communication technologies (ICTs). Medicine, Anthropology and Theory 6(2): 

Crozier, S. E., & Cassell, C. M. (2016). Methodological considerations in the use of audio diaries in work psychology: Adding to the qualitative toolkit. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 89(2), 396-419.

Kaur, H., Saukko, P., & Lumsden, K. (2018). Rhythms of moving in and between digital media: a study on video diaries of young people with physical disabilities. Mobilities

, 13(3), 397-410.

[If it’s ok to add some things to this - here’s some more diary research suggestions - suggestions/annotations by Emily Henderson @EmilyFrascatore - feel free to contact me about diary research!]:

3 great guide books on this type of research:

  • Alaszewski, A. (2006). Using diaries for social research. London: Sage.
  • Bartlett, R., & Milligan, C. (2015). What is diary method? London: Bloomsbury.
  • Hyers, L. L. (2018). Diary methods. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Day, M., & Thatcher, J. (2009). “I'm Really Embarrassed That You're Going to Read This …”: Reflections on Using Diaries in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 6(4), 249-259. doi:10.1080/14780880802070583 [A useful paper on how diaries can be used - advantages as well as challenges]

Eidse, N., & Turner, S. (2014). Doing resistance their own way: counter-narratives of street vending in Hanoi, Vietnam through solicited journaling. Area, 46(3), 242-248. Retrieved from [This one picks up the complexities of both living and recording lives, particularly when on the move/living precariously]

Harvey, L. (2011). Intimate reflections: private diaries in qualitative research. Qualitative Research, 11(6), 664-682. doi:10.1177/1468794111415959 [A fascinating method where participants keep diaries but don’t show them to the researcher - the diaries act as prompts]

Along these same lines, Markham has done ethnographic study of youth who use a variety of tools, including diaries, that they don’t show to the researcher, but use as prompts. Written up here: Markham, A. N. (2018). Critical pedagogy as a response to datafication. Qualitative Inquiry, Online First edition at (personal copy shared here)

Waddington, K. (2005). Using diaries to explore the characteristics of work-related gossip: Methodological considerations from exploratory multimethod research. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78(2), 221-236. doi:10.1348/096317905X40817 [This one really picks up how diaries can help to record data from scenarios that would not be easily researched using e.g. observation]

Williamson, I., Leeming, D., Lyttle, S., & Johnson, S. (2012). ‘It should be the most natural thing in the world’: exploring first-time mothers' breastfeeding difficulties in the UK using audio-diaries and interviews. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 8(4), 434-447. doi:10.1111/j.1740-8709.2011.00328.x [This one is interesting as it shows how tracking everyday experiences over a relatively short period of time reveals many different emotions and practices] 

Zimmerman, D. H., & Wieder, D. L. (1977). The Diary: Diary-Interview Method. Urban Life, 5(4), 479-498. doi:10.1177/089124167700500406 [Classic paper introducing this method]

Bartlett, R. (2012). Modifying the Diary Interview Method to Research the Lives of People With Dementia. Qualitative Health Research, 22(12), 1717-1726. doi:10.1177/1049732312462240 [This one is great as it is about adapting the method in different ways for different participants, e.g. using collage]

Doing Online Interviews (added by Alexia Maddox)

An online interview is a structured conversation, consisting of the question set, an interviewer, an interviewee and the technology used to conduct and record the interview.

What makes them different to an in-person interview is:

  • The role of the technology in facilitating real-time co-presence and interactivity
  • The approach the interviewer takes to build rapport and curate the conversation.

There is now a swath of scholarship on how to conduct an online interview, including this early article by Hinchcliffe and Gavin (2009) studying the use of instant messenger for synchronous interviewing. Early studies focused on comparing offline (in person) practices with the results from remote practices such as telephone interviewing (Irvine 2011).

A quick look at the available technology today suggests that online interviewing can be done through mundane everyday communicative practices and objects. An online interview can be done by your mobile phone or through your laptop using audio-visual interfaces such as Skype (Janghorban et al 2014), or Zoom, or by text chat through IRC for example (Barratt & Maddox 2016). This means that they can be conducted with audio-visual interactivity and textual synchronicity.

Asynchronous interviewing, by email for example, is also possible and may be more convenient for some but lacks that live interplay and depends on the participant actually taking the time to write out their responses (Bampton, R., Cowton, C., & Downs, Y. 2013; Burns 2010). For some, this is too much labour.

What are they good for?

  • Live interviews allow for the interviewer to seek clarification and follow threads of the conversation.
  • They also allow for the ability of the interviewer to check that they understand the meaning of what the participant has said.
  • Online interviews mean that you can conduct a real time interview, with another person, in a conversational format, but be in different spatial locations and contexts.
  • It is possible to conduct anonymous interviews using IRC text chat and some other website interfaces.

How do I design my questions?

Design your interview questions to start from an easy soft opening question that a) draws on the expert knowledge or life experience of your interview participant and b) is relevant to scope of the interview. Work up to more complex questions and go out with a meaningful yet “feel good” question that allows your participant to say what they think.

  • Be sure to ask the key questions that you want insights into that focus on the participants opinion and experience.
  • Make sure your questions are simple, clear, relevant and to the point.

How do I set up an online interview?


Setting up an interview online takes planning. It helps to plan how you will approach the interview, how you will coordinate your interview times with your participants and how you integrate technology into your interview process. Write your interview question set before you do the interview, and even test it out on a willing friend.


To coordinate interviews across time zones, you can use this handy website to determine the time overlap between you and your interviewee

Some people use meeting calendar software where they show what timeslots they are available and people check the slot they want. This can act in lieu of using email to coordinate a shared time to conduct the interview. Here are a few options:


You need to test your interview tech and make sure it works to support an effective interview. Check your mic, that your software is working, and that you can get a clear recording or effective notes from your interview.

Doing the interview

Set and Setting

Find a quiet place to do the interview. This helps so that you can focus on what the person is saying and will help you to capture the conversation.

Capturing what is said

You can either record the interview through the software you are using to conduct the interview or on your smartphone or smart device such as an iPad. Check with your participant about what they are most comfortable with of these options.

Make sure you have a pen and notepad as a simple back up that will work. In it, you can have your questions and also take notes. It always helps to take notes while you are doing the interview to keep track of the questions you want to ask that arise from the conversation you are having.

Interview length

Most busy professionals would appreciate an interview that is 20 minutes at the most. Make sure you clarify on their time availability and ask all your key questions within that time.


You should start the interview by using a short summary statement to state what the interview is about and ask them if they are comfortable to proceed with it. Prior to the interview, you should have sent them an email with this basic information and confirming interview length, style of questions and location.

During the interview

Ask your first question and listen to what they have to say. This interview is about their opinion rather than your own, so listening is key. Ask for clarification of anything that they have said that you don’t understand or would like to know more about.

If the interviewee goes off track, politely bring them back to the question at hand and keep the time in mind.

Summarise the ideas they have shared with you to indicate that you have understood what they have said.

Closing the interview

When you’ve asked your last question, ask them if there is anything more they would like to add. When you have both finished the conversation, thank them for their time and let them know what you will do with this knowledge they have provided you. (i.e. use it for your assessment task and also consider how you can shape your learning and career practices using this knowledge.

Getting consent

Obtain permission from your interviewee to use the content of the interview in your assessment piece and include this permission as an appendix in your assessment submission. You can get this at the time by providing a short, 1 pager summarising the interview and containing a line of it with the interviewee’s name and something that says ” I consent to the information I have provided in this interview being used for assessment purposes” and a place for their signature and date.


Barratt, M. J., & Maddox, A. (2016). Active engagement with stigmatised communities through digital ethnography. Qualitative Research, 16(6), 701–719.

Bampton, R., Cowton, C., & Downs, Y. (2013). The e-interview in qualitative research. In Advancing research methods with new technologies (pp. 329-343): IGI Global.

Burns, E. (2010). Developing Email Interview Practices in Qualitative Research. Sociological Research Online, 15(4), 24–35.

Hinchcliffe, Vanessa, and Helen Gavin. "Social and virtual networks: evaluating synchronous online interviewing using instant messenger." The Qualitative Report, vol. 14, no. 2, 2009, p. 318

Janghorban, R., Latifnejad Roudsari, R., & Taghipour, A. (2014). Skype interviewing: the new generation of online synchronous interview in qualitative research. International Journal Of Qualitative Studies On Health And Well-Being, 9, 24152.

Irvine, A. (2011). Duration, Dominance and Depth in Telephone and Face-to-Face Interviews: A Comparative Exploration. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 202–220.

Re-enactment Videos

Re-enactment videos have been used in ethnographic fieldwork as a way of documenting people’s everyday practices (often in the home). Researchers have usually done the video-making as they follow their participants around, asking questions as they go. This method can be revised to ask the participants to make their own re-enactment videos, using their phone or possibly provided with a wearable video camera, such as a GoPro action camera (see more below) and then sharing the videos online with the researchers.


Pink, S., & Leder Mackley, K. (2016). Moving, making and atmosphere: routines of home as sites for mundane improvisation. Mobilities, 11(2), 171-187. 

Pink, S. and K. Leder Mackley (2014) ‘Reenactment Methodologies for Everyday Life Research: Art Therapy Insights for Video Ethnography’ Visual Studies 29(2), pp.146-154

Pink, S. (2014) ‘Digital-Visual-Sensory-Design Anthropology: ethnography, imagination and intervention’ Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 13(4): 412-427

Pink, S., V. Fors and M. Glöss (2017) ‘Automated Futures and the Mobile Present: in-car video ethnographies’ Ethnography.

Using Wearable Cameras (and other first-person perspective tech)

Using small wearable cameras such as GoPro action cameras (often used by people to film their participation in action sports) can be a way of doing ‘walk-alongs’ - or in the case of the project by Pink, Sumartojo and colleagues cited below, ‘ride-alongs’. They gave a GoPro to cyclists to wear on their helmets during one of their regular commutes to work. The camera was turned on by the cyclist when they were preparing to leave for work, recorded their ride and was turned off once they had reached their destination. The videos were viewed together by the researchers and the participants, with questions asked about the cyclists’ experiences of using self-tracking devices and reviewing their data. This post-video interview could be conducted using Skype or similar, or could be combined with cultural probes, diaries or the like.

Think of the many possibilities of using these kinds of wearable cameras for ethnographic research - dance-alongs, eat-alongs, sing-alongs ….


Fors, V., M. Berg and S. Pink (2016) ‘Capturing the ordinary. Imagining the user in designing and using automatic photographic lifelogging technologies’ in S. Selke (ed) Lifelogging: Theoretical Approaches and Case Studies about Self-Tracking, Springer VS.

Pink, S. (2015) ‘Going forward through the world: thinking about first-person perspective digital ethnography between theoretical scholarship and applied practice’ Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science. 49(2): 239-252

Pink, S., Sumartojo, S., Lupton, D., & Heyes LaBond, C. (2017). Empathetic technologies: digital materiality and video ethnography. Visual Studies, 32(4), 371-381.

Pink, S., A. Gomes, R. Zilse, R. Lucena, J. Pinto, A. Porto, C. Caminha, G. M. de Siqueira, M. Duarte de Oliveira (2018) ‘Automated and Connected?: Smartphones and Automobility through the Global South’ Applied Mobilities DOI: 10.1080/23800127.2018.1505263

Pizza, S., Brown, B., McMillan, D., & Lampinen, A. (2016). Smartwatch in vivo. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’16). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 5456–5469. DOI:

Epistolary (Asynchronous) Interviews

Epistolary interviews, first described by Debenham (2001), are asynchronous, one-to-one interviews mediated by technology.

The method allows both interviewer and respondent to select suitable interview times, provides time to consider questions and responses, and eliminates the need for transcription. The interviewer sets the pattern for the formality of the interview, ensuring that the online format is used to organise and facilitate talk rather than to constrain it (Ferguson, 2009). Length, aims and format of the interview, the need for spontaneous or researched responses, and whether reference can be made to external material should be established at the outset.

As interviewer and respondent do not need to be co-present in time, respondents are empowered by being able to choose when to respond. They have time to consider their answers and can, if they choose, make reference to supporting materials. The method also allows a researcher to conduct several interviews simultaneously, so data from one interview can be tested in or used to develop other interviews.

The epistolary nature of such interviews means that, as in a sequence of written letters, a relationship between the correspondents can be established and developed. This can produce thoughtful exchanges in which both interviewer and respondent have opportunities to consider, clarify and expand their meaning.

The method does not aim for neutrality but builds a relationship between researcher and respondent that supports interpretation of the data. To give consistency to the data, the main questions can be worded in the same way each time they are presented.

Some researchers have been experimenting with messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, to conduct these kinds of interviews (see section on app-based methods below).


Ferguson, Rebecca (2009). The Construction of Shared Knowledge through Asynchronous Dialogue. PhD thesis. The Open University.

Debenham, Margaret (2001). Computer mediated communication and disability support: addressing barriers to study for undergraduate distance learners with long-term health problems. PhD thesis. The Open University.

Debenham, M. (2007). Epistolary Interviews On-Line: A Novel Addition to the Researcher’s Palette.  

Online Discussion Platforms

Instead of conducting focus groups face-to-face, there are platforms available that can customise an online group discussion that can be moderated in real-time. Market research companies often offer such platforms. You can upload your questions and check in to observe people typing in their answers, meaning you can ask them to elaborate or explain in real-time. Settings can be arranged so that participants can see each others’ responses in real-time if you wish to encourage a group discussion. The discussion can be held over a number of days to allow people time to participate or add to their responses.


Chen, J., & Neo, P. (2019). Texting the waters: An assessment of focus groups conducted via the WhatsApp smartphone messaging application. Methodological Innovations, 12(3), 2059799119884276. Available at: 

Lindgren, T., V. Fors, S. Pink & M. Bergquist (2019) ‘Experiencing the Future Car: Anticipatory UX as a Social and Digital Phenomenon’, Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems: 31:1 , Article 1. Available at:

Lupton, D., & Turner, B. (2018). ‘I can’t get past the fact that it is printed’: consumer attitudes to 3D printed food. Food, Culture & Society, 21(3), 402-418.

Postill, J. and S. Pink ‘(2012) ‘Social Media ethnography: the digital researcher in a messy web’, MIA (Media International Australia), 145: 123–134.

Reisner, S.L., Randazzo, R.K., White Hughto, J.M., Peitzmeier, S., DuBois, L.Z., Pardee, D.J., Marrow, E., McLean, S., & Potter, J. (2018). "Sensitive health topics with underserved patient populations: Methodological considerations for online focus group discussions." Qualitative health research 28(10): 1658-1673.

Online, Synchronous, Video-Based Focus Group Interviews (added by Nathan Browning)

Focus groups can be a great tool when you need to “explore perceptions, feelings, and thinking about issues, ideas, products, services, or opportunities” (Krueger & Casey, 2014, p. 37). Focus groups are unique because of their focus on interpersonal interaction in analysis. The dynamics of this change when utilizing an online, video-based venue.

In some cases, online groups can be “particularly well-suited” (Forrestal, D’Angelo, and Vogel, 2015) to deal with sensitive topics. Forrestal, D’Angelo, and Vogel also state that accessing an online venue can actually be less of a barrier to participation than carving out time to travel to a focus group facility.

Platforms to Use

There are many options that may be readily available to you at your current organization. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, are all possible software to use if your goal is a simple, face-to-face, group discussion. Many of these platforms also have recording capabilities for easy transcription later on.

There are other platforms like itracks, 20/20 Research, Civicom, and that have advanced features that delve more into the arts-based side of qualitative methods (, 2020) This includes capabilities such as participant recruitment, an observation room for co-researchers or transcribers, and in-discussion elements like having participants do illustrations or creating collages.

Make sure to record!

With in-person focus groups, often a moderator is able to record the session audio for transcription later. The equivalent must be considered for online, synchronous, video-based group discussions as well.

There is plenty of free software that can help you accomplish this if your chosen video conferencing software does not support it. Some software to help record your screen and audio: OBS Studio, Flashback Express, and Apowersoft (this requires no download, you can do it from your browser).

Sample size and other considerations for online focus groups

Whereas with in-person focus groups, a single group could consist of as many as 13 individuals, online focus groups are a bit more clunky, and are prone to technology issues, lagging, internet dropouts, and interruptions. For that reason, a brief review of the literature shows that it is optimal to cap your focus groups at around 6 participants (Kite & Phongsavan, 2017; Flynn, Albrecht, and Scott, 2018; Daniels, Gillen, Casson, and Wilson, 2019).

Set up some ground rules for the group discussion. Encourage participants to move to a quiet or secluded location, away from distractions. Have them make use of things like text chat or hand raising, since it can be more difficult to interject over a video feed. Ensure before the session starts that everyone is connected successfully (invite them early). Lastly, make sure you obtain video recording consent forms!


Daniels, N., Gillen, P., Casson, K., & Wilson, I. (2019). STEER: Factors to Consider When Designing Online Focus Groups Using Audiovisual Technology in Health Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 14 November 2019, Vol.18.

Flynn, R., Albrecht, L., & Scott, S. (2018). Two Approaches to Focus Group Data Collection for Qualitative Health Research: Maximizing Resources and Data Quality. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 13 January 2018, Vol.17(1).

Forrestal, S. G., D’Angelo, A. V., & Vogel, L. K. (2015). Considerations for and lessons learned from online, synchronous focus groups. Survey Practice, 8(2), 1-8.

Kite, J., & Phongsavan, P. (2017). Insights for conducting real-time focus groups online using a web conferencing service. F1000Research, 6, 122.

Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2015). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. (2020). Focus groups: moving to the online face-to-face mode. Retrieved from

Cultural/Mobile Probes

This is an approach from design research, involving developing kits of materials that are left with research participants to complete in their own time. Once completed, they can be sent back to the researchers. Traditionally, these materials are analogue: paper cards with instructions for completion (invented by Bill Gaver and team). Probes may also be sent to participants, completed and sent back via mobile phones. The approach is then called mobile probes.

Probes do not provide ‘information’ as hard data, but rather should be seen as providing a glimpse into people’s lives and inspiration for the designer. Tasks often have a creative element - and people are more likely to engage with fun tasks or tasks that give them some creative agency than with pure information gathering and diaries. But one needs to be careful that tasks do not feel overwhelming. Typical tasks can include postcards with a question to answer, a map to annotate, a task to photograph the first object one notices consciously on the way out of the house (or something in the house that has always been annoying etc), game-style elements can be used, they can include audio-recordings and so on.

Physical kits tend to work well, as the physical objects are reminders of what to do. Thus, how to do this online, might be a challenge. One way to get around this is to send materials by snail mail and ask participants to return them the same way.


Albrechtsen, C., Pedersen, M., Pedersen, N., & Jensen, T. (2017). Mobile Probes: Exploring the Work Processes and Everyday Life of Danish Students Writing Their Master's Thesis. SAGE Research Methods Cases. DOI:

Celikoglu, O. M., Ogut, S. T., & Krippendorff, K. (2017). How do user stories inspire design? A study of cultural probes. Design Issues, 33(2), 84-98.

Legros, C. (2018) Designing cultural probes. Available at Designing Cultural Probes - Catherine Legros

Bill Gaver, Tony Dunne, Elena Pacenti. (1999). Cultural probes. Interactions, 6(1), 21-29.

William W. Gaver, Andrew Boucher, Sarah Pennington, Brendan Walker. (2004) Cultural probes and the value of uncertainty. Interactions, 11(5), 53-56. 

Kirsten Boehner, Janet Vertesi, Phoebe Sengers, and Paul Dourish. 2007. How HCI interprets the probes. Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’07). ACM, NY, 1077–1086. DOI: 

The Story Completion Method

Story completion is a writing method that can take place in face-to-face situations using pen and paper but can also be conducted using online tools such as SurveyMonkey. Alternatively, mail can be used to send the prompts to participants and they can complete them in their own time, as is often the case with cultural probe materials. The method involves the use of story ‘stems’, in which a fictional character is introduced and commonly, they face a dilemma they need to resolve. Participants are asked to complete the story. The completed narratives are then analysed for what they reveal about understandings, discourses or imaginaries concerning the topic of the story stems.


Story completion. Available at Story completion 

(A recent special issue dedicated to Story Completion)

Clarke, V., Braun, V., Frith, H., & Moller, N. (2019). Editorial Introduction to the Special Issue: Using Story Completion Methods in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 16(1), 1–20. 

Gravett, K. (2019). Story Completion: Storying as a Method of Meaning-Making and Discursive Discovery. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18. 

Lupton, D. (2020). The story completion method and more-than-human theory: finding and using health information. Sage Research Methods Cases.

App-based Methods

Methods that use the connectivity of smartphone apps to get in touch with participants for in-situ, real-time research



Boase, J., & Humphreys, L. (2018). Mobile methods: Explorations, innovations, and reflections. Mobile Media & Communication, 6(2), 153-162.

Kaufmann, K., & Peil, C. (2019). The mobile instant messaging interview (MIMI): Using WhatsApp to enhance self-reporting and explore media usage in situ. Mobile Media & Communication, Online first, 1-18.

Kaye, L.K., Monk, R.L., & Hamlin, I. (2018). ‘Feeling appy?’ Using app-based methodology to explore contextual effects on real-time cognitions, affect and behaviours. In C. Costa & J. Condie (eds.), Doing research in and on the digital. Research methods across fields of inquiry (p. 11-30). Abingdon, UK and New York: Routledge.

United Nations Development Programme (2018). Online available at:

Dowling, R., Lloyd, K. and Suchet-Pearson, S. (2016) ‘Qualitative methods 1: Enriching the interview’, Progress in Human Geography, 40(5), pp. 679–686. doi: 10.1177/0309132515596880.

Sugie, N. F. (2018) ‘Utilizing Smartphones to Study Disadvantaged and Hard-to-Reach Groups’, Sociological Methods & Research, 47(3), pp. 458–491. doi: 10.1177/0049124115626176.

Using Facebook Groups

Using Facebook’s Groups feature to gather data via prompts and discussions among members.

Some benefits:

  • High participant engagement
  • Flexibility for participants & researchers
  • Thick data
  • Lots of levers for discussion
  • Prolonged engagement

How to and more details here: Anja Dinhopl

A novel research method for workshops and co-production of knowledge: using a secret Facebook group (Pre-print link:


Background: Co-production is reliant on good communication and consensus between participants but attending in-person meetings and workshops is hard for time-constrained groups such as new mums, who may be geographically dispersed without reliable transport. Discussions with a lay advisory group resulted in the decision to hold a workshop over a secret Facebook group. The aim of this study was to test the feasibility of a secret Facebook group for co-production activities. In the example presented here, the population was women with previous gestational diabetes; the topic was physical inactivity; and the purpose was to develop an acceptable intervention to increase physical activity.

Methods: The researchers created a secret Facebook group with content similar to an in-person workshop that sequentially progressed to develop a programme theory for an intervention. The researcher posted 1-2 times per day for 14 days and members of the group were invited to comment and discuss the content. Feasibility and acceptability of the group analysed using Facebook analytics and a post-workshop survey.

Results: Twenty-one participants took part. In total, 521 comments were provided in response to 18 posts of varying types (average = 28.9 comments per post). The total word count of participant comments was 21,142 words. The workshop was viewed positively, with 20 of 21 participants saying they liked the workshop ‘somewhat’ or ‘a great deal’, and felt the group was a safe and open environment to share opinions. When asked if they would take part in something like this again, 15 of 21 said “Yes”. Participants mentioned the format was convenient; it allowed them to reflect on their own experiences and they liked helping research progress. Those who say “yes” said it was difficult finding time and depended on what else was going on.

Conclusion: Using a secret Facebook group as a method of co-production or as a workshop in the research process is a feasible and acceptable method. Social media holds significant potential for co-production and involvement in research for populations who are geographically dispersed or time-constrained; with an uncommon condition; or in other circumstances where in-person meetings are either not appropriate or not possible.


Haley MacLeod, Ben Jelen, Annu Prabhakar, Lora Oehlberg, Katie Siek, and Kay Connelly. 2016. Asynchronous remote communities (ARC) for researching distributed populations. In Proceedings of the 10th EAI International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (PervasiveHealth ’16). 1-8.

Using Google/Microsoft Forms for Data Collection

Google forms could be used to collect basic demographic information and ask open questions.

More on using the Google platform:

GDPR is important. QUALTRICS (although it requires a paid license)

added by Mark Wong, University of Glasgow, @UoG_MarkWong:

N.b. Google Forms is not GDPR compliant in EU countries and the UK, as data are not stored on servers located within the EU.

Microsoft Forms (part of Office365) is an easy-to-use tool to set up online questionnaires, opinion polls, and quizzes. Easy to make visually appealing questionnaires quickly. (formerly known as Bristol Online Surveys) is a UK-based tool commonly used to set up online questionnaires, which is more targeted towards academic research.

Institutional/personal accounts may be required for the above tools. If you are using Microsoft Forms/Office365 via an institutional account, check with your institution data management team/guidelines to ensure data is saved within the EU only.

SurveyMonkey is also a quick and easy (and free for basic use) online survey tool.

LimeSurvey is an open-source option for surveys.

The Ethics of Moving from Face-to-Face Fieldwork

This section is for discussing ethical issues related to moving from face-to-face to remote fieldwork. For a start, if your human research ethics committee has already approved your face-to-face methods and you wish to modify these along the lines of some of the suggestions above, most ethics committees will require a modification request and approval process.

You will also need to consider the ‘affective atmospheres’ of conducting any kind of social research in a pandemic, when normal routines are disrupted and many people are feeling uncertain and worried, or are ill or caring for ill family members. People may be living in environments where they are subjected to harassment, violence or surveillance by other family members. Privacy issues are very important to consider in these contexts.

On the other hand, with people more confined, feeling bored or restless but in good health, they may welcome the opportunity to be part of a research project. Consider your target participant group very carefully when making decisions about the best way forward.

If you decide to use online data collection methods that engage with pre-existing material people have uploaded (as opposed to material you have specifically asked them to generate following a consent process, which includes many of the methods listed here), you will need to carefully consider the ethical issues. Check the Association of Internet Researchers’ document discussing these issues, available here: IRE 3.0 - final-includes missing reference

Also consider whether non-digital/online methods might be better suited to your project and participants, particularly if there are privacy issues, data security issues, poor online access or digital skills difficulties. This document includes examples of several non-digital approaches that can be used in these situations: for example, cultural probes or journaling that involve pen-and-paper and can be sent through the mail for participants to complete.

Some guidelines on anthropological fieldwork generally (mostly related to in-person methods) can be found at ASA Ethics Guidelines

GDPR issues: some researchers in Europe have raised concerns about how to conduct digitised fieldwork and remain compliant with the GDPR. These matters certainly deserve attention. See below for some links discussing relevant issues.


How Has GDPR affected Market Research?

Is anthropology still legal? Notes on the impact of GDPR

Autoethnography (added by F. Güzin Agca-Varoglu)

The autoethnographic method gives the opportunity to create a research, where the researcher puts “self” in the process as a subject. My students had to visit places like cafes, hospitals, tea-houses, mosques, museums etc. for their fieldwork. Because of the outbreak I want them to write an autoethnographic essay drawn on social distance experiences and also temporal/spatial change in their everyday lives. It could be a substitution for cancelled homework in this period that they should stay away from other people. The autoethnographic method relies on memory work and a critical analysis of personal reflection situated in a broader socio-spatial context.


        .    Bloch, S. (2019). Going All City: Struggle and Survival in LA’s Graffiti Community.  

                Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

        .    Bloch, S. (2019). An autoethnographic account of urban restructuring and    

                neighborhood change in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Cultural Geographies.

·          Denzin, N. K. (2006). Analytic Autoethnography, or Déjà Vu all Over Again. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), 419–428.

·          Ellis, C. (1999). Heartful autoethnography. Qualitative Health Research, 9(5), 669-683.

·          Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2000) Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject. In N. Denzin , & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

·          Reed-Danahay, D. (Eds.) (1997). Auto/ethnography: Writing the self and the social. Oxford, UK: Berg.

·          Rambo, C. (2005). Impressions of Grandmother: An Autoethnographic Portrait. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 34(5), 560–585.

·          Wall, S. (2008). Easier Said than Done: Writing an Autoethnography. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 38–53.

·          White, S. (2003) Autoethnography: An appropriate methodology? Qualitative Research Journal. 3(2): 22–32.

Duoethnography (added by Vibeke Oestergaard Steenfeldt)

In continuation of autoethnography I would like to pay attention to duoethnography. When it can be difficult for students to get access to patients or other informants they can be encouraged to investigate a phenomenon based on their own experiences e.g. by interviewing each other mutually.


Sawyer, R.D. & Norris, J. (2013). Duoethnography. Understanding qualitative research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bille, T. & Steenfeldt, V.O. (2013). Challenging Fieldwork Situations: A Study of Researcher’s Subjectivity. Journal of Research Practice 9(1). Article M2.

Autobiographical Design and Research-Through-Design (added by Cayla Key)

Autobiographical design is the design and genuine use of a system for and by the design researcher. In autobiographical design, insights are drawn from the first-person experience of building and using an artifact or system. This method has proven beneficial in cases where access to participants is difficult, because it needs to be ongoing over a long period of time, or because the context of the inquiry is personal, intimate, and difficult to enter. The benefits of using autobiographical design include the possibility to design a fully tailored design product for the participant and their situation, to rapidly iterate on the built prototype since the designer, the maker, and the user are the same person, and to gather rich and thorough data by being in direct contact with the situation.


Carman Neustaedter. 2012. Autobiographical Design in HCI Research: Designing and Learning through Use-It-Yourself. 10. 

Audrey Desjardins and Aubree Ball. Revealing Tensions in Autobiographical Design in HCI. 13. 

Cayla Key and Audrey Desjardins. 2019. Rep(Air): An Olfactory Interface For Bike Maintenance and Care. In Proc. of the 4th Biennial Research Through Design Conference. 

Jen Liu, Daragh Byrne, and Laura Devendorf. 2018. Design for Collaborative Survival: An Inquiry into Human-Fungi Relationships. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems  - CHI ’18, 1–13.

Desjardins, Audrey, and Ron Wakkary. "Living in a prototype: A reconfigured space." Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2016.

Netnography/Virtual Methods (added by Gabriella Wulff)

I often use netnography/virtual methods to conduct ethnographic research online. I also recommend my students to look into the research. Here are some reading suggestions:

Hine, Christine (2000). Virtual Ethnography. London: SAGE Publications.

Hine, Christine. (2008). Virtual ethnography: Modes, varieties, affordances. The SAGE handbook of online research methods, 257-270.

Kozinets, R. (2002). The Field behind the Screen: Using Netnography for Marketing Research in Online Communities. Journal of Marketing Research, 39(1), 61-72.

Kozinets, Robert V. (2010). Netnography: Doing ethnographic research online. Sage publications.

Kozinets, R. (2015). Netnography : Redefined (2nd ed.).

I also found this one, that might be useful:

Hjorth, L., Horst, H., Galloway, A., & Bell, G. (Eds.). (2017). The Routledge companion to digital ethnography. Taylor & Francis.

Digital Methods and Quali-Quant analysis (added by Anders Kristian Munk)

I encourage my students to consider ways in which computational analysis of born digital material can complement fieldwork (e.g. as a way to map relational fields)  and/or be thought of as a form of fieldwork in its own right (e.g. by locating digital traces in specific media cultures/socio-technical infrastructures or by using computation exploratively and descriptively to discover questions and concerns from actors online).

Suggested readings:

  • Birkbak, A., & Carlsen, H. B. (2015). The public and its algorithms: Comparing and experimenting with calculated publics. In Algorithmic Life (pp. 35-48). Routledge.
  • Blok, A., & Pedersen, M. A. (2014). Complementary social science? Quali-quantitative experiments in a Big Data world. Big Data & Society, 1(2), 2053951714543908.
  • Burgess, J., & Matamoros-Fernández, A. (2016). Mapping sociocultural controversies across digital media platforms: One week of #gamergate on Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr. Communication Research and Practice, 2(1), 79-96.
  • Elgaard Jensen, T., Kleberg Hansen, A. K., Ulijaszek, S., Munk, A. K., Madsen, A. K., Hillersdal, L., & Jespersen, A. P. (2019). Identifying notions of environment in obesity research using a mixed‐methods approach. Obesity Reviews, 20(4), 621-630.
  • Latour, B., Jensen, P., Venturini, T., Grauwin, S., & Boullier, D. (2012). ‘The whole is always smaller than its parts’–a digital test of G abriel Tardes' monads. The British journal of sociology, 63(4), 590-615.
  • Munk, A. K. (2019). Four styles of quali-quantitative analysis: Making sense of the new Nordic food movement on the web. Nordicom Review, 40(s1), 159-176.
  • Munk, A. K., Abildgaard, M. S., Birkbak, A., & Petersen, M. K. (2016, July). (Re-) Appropriating Instagram for Social Research: Three methods for studying obesogenic environments. In Proceedings of the 7th 2016 International Conference on Social Media & Society (pp. 1-10).
  • Moats, D. (2019). Following the Fukushima Disaster on (and against) Wikipedia: A Methodological Note about STS Research and Online Platforms. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 44(6), 938-964.
  • Rogers, R. (2019). Doing digital methods. SAGE Publications Limited.
  • Marres, N. (2017). Digital sociology: The reinvention of social research. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Marres, N. (2015). Why map issues? On controversy analysis as a digital method. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 40(5), 655-686.
  • Venturini, T. (2012). Building on faults: how to represent controversies with digital methods. Public understanding of science, 21(7), 796-812.
  • Zhang, Shaozeng, Bo Zhao, and Jennifer Ventrella. 2018. “Towards an ethnographic-archaeological approach to big data: rethinking data veracity.” Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, 2018 (1), 62-85.

For our own controversy mapping students I have made the following set of tutorials centered on Wikipedia as a field and introducing a range of digital methods/techniques:

Using YouTube (and Online Video) for (Teaching) Observational Studies (added by Robin Smith)

YouTube (other video platforms are available…) has increasingly been used by those carrying out observational studies, sometimes as a means to access perspicuous phenomena that are hard to access, at other times as means to an end (my ethnography students are currently facing this challenge). A number of ethnomethodological studies have used YouTube and online video as data and there is no good reason that ethnographers more generally who are interested in things like interaction in public space, family interactions, public disputes, protests, the circulation of violence etc etc, shouldn’t make use of the resource. Some papers (including a discussion of the ethics of ‘any-misation’ (Laurier, 2016) and studies indicating the kinds of possibilities and possible topics below (please add!!):

Laurier, E. "YouTube: fragments of a video‐tropic atlas." Area 48.4 (2016): 488-495.
Laurier, E. (unpublished) Youtube: using third party video as research data

Brown, B., & Laurier, E. (2017, May). The trouble with autopilots: Assisted and autonomous driving on the social road. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 416-429).
Reynolds, E. and Fitzgerald, R. (2015) “Challenging normativity: Re-appraising category, bound, tied and predicated features." in
R. Fitzgerald and W. Housley (2015) Advances in Membership Categorisation Analysis.
Lloyd, M. " You just took the jump too slowly”: A single case analysis of a mountain bike crash. Social Interaction. Video-Based Studies of Human Sociality, 2(2).
Smith, R. J. (2017). Membership categorisation, category-relevant spaces, and perception-in-action: The case of disputes between cyclists and drivers. Journal of Pragmatics, 118, 120-133.

Sumiala, J., & Tikka, M. (2011). Imagining globalised fears: school shooting videos and circulation of violence on YouTube. Social Anthropology, 19(3), 254-267. [includes a number of further readings too]

(added by Mikael Quennerstedt)


Using YouTube for visual data is as I see it quite under used.


“Burgess and Green (2009) argue that YouTube can make sense when it is understood as something that people use in daily life, and that YouTube can be regarded as ‘a massive, heterogeneous, but for the most part accidental and disordered, public archive’ (p. 88). In this way, the video clips used in this study, posted by both students and teachers, can be seen as an archive, as reports of ongoing PE practices. This ‘archive’ opens up for studies using a wide sample of participatory created data from PE practices.” (Quennerstedt, 2013a)


In Quennerstedt (2013b) YouTube clips used were mainly ‘diary entries’ in terms of my-typical-day-in-school clips, displaying an event in school important enough for the students to film and important enough to post on their user channel.


However there are always ethical concerns when using publicly private data. Some discussions and references can be found in Quennerstedt (2013c).


Quennerstedt, M. (2013a). PE on YouTube–investigating participation in physical education practice. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 18(1), 42-59.


Quennerstedt, M. (2013b). Practical epistemologies in physical education practice. Sport, Education and Society, 18(3), 311-333.


Quennerstedt, M., Flintoff, A., & Webb, L. (2013). Narratives from YouTube: Juxtaposing stories about physical education. SAGE Open, 3(4).


Quennerstedt, M. (2013c). Learning from YouTube. In: Pedagogies, Physical Culture, and Visual Methods, Routledge.


Using Podcasts to Study Culture

Podcasts are serialized audio broadcasts, akin to radio broadcasts, that are digitally produced for public consumption. Podcasters, or the producers and hosts, tend to be motivated by love of the topic of their podcast and a desire to share and promote that topic (Markman, 2012). Moreover, podcasts are plentiful––with over 800,000 active podcasts and over 50 million episodes (Adgate, 2019))––and may be a valuable source of extant data to complement other elicited perspectives (e.g., via interviews or focus groups). As cultural artifacts created outside of a research context, these carry a sort of naturalistic quality that lends credibility while also demanding careful contextualization––who produced, for what audience, at what time, etc.? As with other public data repurposed for research ends, ethical questions arise around privacy, intent, and interpretation. These concerns might be mitigated by considering the self-reported purpose of individual podcasters and comparisons to alternative methods of engagement. For example, Abdolrahmani et al. (2020) chose this method because researchers’ goals aligned with those of visually impaired podcasters: to reveal accessibility and usability challenges of voice assistants. Using podcasts produced by and for members of a marginalized community, specifically the visually impaired community, sidestepped the undue burden or undue inducement that elicitation methods posed. Finally, including people with disabilities in leadership roles on the research team supported nuanced interpretation of recordings from an insider perspective. Popular podcast repositories that are searchable include Apple Podcasts,, and Spotify.


Abdolrahmani, A., Storer, K.M., Mukkath Roy, A.R., Kuber, R., & Branham, S.M. (2020). Blind Leading the Sighted: Drawing Design Insights from Blind Users Towards More Productivity-Oriented Voice Interfaces. Transactions on Accessible Computing (TACCESS). January 2020, Article 18, 35 pages.

Adgate, B. (2019). "Podcasting is Going Mainstream." Forbes. Accessed on March 23, 2020.

Markman, K. M. (2012). Doing radio, making friends, and having fun: Exploring the motivations of independent audio podcasters. New Media & Society, 14(4), 547-565.

Big Brother Style Observations

If research is about people’s activities and behaviour, having consent to carry out live on-line observations might work well during these times. Researcher places a camera in the home of the participants at a particular agreed room and it gets turned on and off at convenient times where a) activity is taking place and b) it’s convenient and appropriate for the people being observed.  

Just a thought as I read this doc. Great initiative!

Experimenting with Online Live Action Role Play (O-LARPs) (added by
Alex Taylor)

I’ve been involved in Live Action Role Play (LARPs) as a method for imagining futures (specifically for a project on Algorithmic Food Justice). We worked with the Arts Collective Furtherfield who have been developing this as a method. I think there might be ways to move this into the online realm. You’d need to rethink how materials can be integrated into roles and interactions, and probably experiment with different platforms. It might be interesting to take over gaming platforms, possibly something like Roblox.


As an example, see Planet Cashless 2029, via Furtherfield.

Simkins, David. The arts of larp: Design, literacy, learning and community in live-action role play. McFarland, 2014.

Kamm, Björn-Ole, and Julia Becker. "Live-action role-play or the performance of realities." In Simulation and Gaming in the Network Society, pp. 35-51. Springer, Singapore, 2016. (URL)

Mitchell, L. (2016). Materiality, magic and belief: Framing the countryside in fantastical live-action roleplay games. Ethnography, 17(3), 326-349. (URL)

LSE Digital Ethnography Collective Reading List

Available here: Digital Anthropology/Ethnography

Arts-based Project Combined with Skype Interviews (added by Nicole Brown)

I use arts-based approaches (e.g. work with metaphors, objects, Lego models, collages, etc.) and combine that with Skype interviews, where I hold interviews (Brinkmann and Kvale, 2015) as conversations between the researcher and the participants to make sense of what the arts-based project means and stands for. Participants are given a question (e.g. Who are you? What affects you?) and are asked to find a representation of the response and to take a photo of that/collage etc and to share that via email with a very brief statement of what they are trying to say. Once you have collected all the data that way you can then arrange for that Skype call to hold a conversation. As a researcher, you can then analyse the representation and the transcript from the interview.

The basis for this approach: human understanding is embodied (Finlay, 2008, 2015) and metaphorical (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003), language is insufficient to explain or describe certain experiences such as pain (e.g. Sontag, 2003; Scarry, 1985), and arts-based approaches can bridge that gap (e.g. Leavy, 2015; Denzin, 2016).

Brinkmann, S. & Kvale, S. (2015). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Brown, N. (2019). Identity boxes: using materials and metaphors to elicit experiences. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 22(5), 487-501. DOI: 10.1080/13645579.2019.1590894.

Brown, N. (2019). "Listen to your gut": a reflexive approach to data analysis. The Qualitative Report, 24(13), 31-43.

Brown, N. (2018). Exploring the lived experience of fibromyalgia using creative data collection. Cogent Social Sciences. DOI: 10.1080/23311886.2018.1447759.

Brown, N. (2018). Video-conference interviews: Ethical and methodological concerns in the context of health research. SAGE Research Methods Cases. DOI: 10.4135/9781526441812

Denzin, N.K. (2016). The Qualitative Manifesto: A Call to Arms. Routledge.

Finlay, L. (2008). A dance between the reduction and reflexivity: Explicating the "phenomenological psychological attitude". Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 39(1), 1-32.

Finlay, L. (2015). Sensing and making sense: Embodying metaphor in relational-centered psychotherapy. The Humanistic Psychologist, 43(4), 338–353.

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors We Live By. (Reprinted). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Leavy, P. (2015). Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. (2nd ed.). Guilford Publications.

Scarry, E. (1985). The Body in Pain – the Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sontag, S. (2003). Regarding the Pain of Others. London: Penguin Books.

Creating Social Media Platforms/ Groups for Research and Researching Social Media Platforms

Middha, B. (2018). "Everyday digital engagements: using food selfies on Facebook to explore eating practices." Communication Research and Practice 4(3): 291-306.

Van der Nagel, E. (2013). "Faceless bodies: Negotiating technological and cultural codes on Reddit Gonewild." Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture 10(2): 1-10.

Online Surveys, Virtual Interviews and Social Media Screenshots (Added by Jessica Ringrose and Kaitlynn Mendes)

We have used qualitative questionnaires, virtual interviews, and social media data gathering in two projects on social media activisms.  For a project on digital feminist activism part of the method involved an online survey (surveymonkey) with qualitative answers to questions about experiences of online feminist activism. Twitter has been identified as a useful platform for conducting qualitative research into “situated knowledge’s” since it is “based around curated, cultivated identities … and their interactions with other entities.” (in Stewart, 2017: 254). We therefore began by conducting a survey through our own Twitter networks. Initially, using our project Twitter handle, we tweeted a survey link, soliciting no responses— largely because we had few followers. We then asked our Research Assistant, a self- defined Twitter feminist with over 4,000 followers, to retweet the survey link generating 47 responses. One of the responses was removed for being “fake” and constituting trolling, leaving us with 46 valid survey responses: 4 adult men, 27 adult women, and 15 teenaged girls.

Albeit a small sample, the responses were richly descriptive regarding participants’ experiences of using Twitter for feminist activism, and specifically to combat rape culture. The survey was anonymous, but it invited participants to share their contact details to participate in semi- structured interviews via Skype, email, or in person. Through this strategy we recruited 21 further responses (from England, Ireland, USA, Canada Nigeria and Saudi Arabia) including 13 Skype interviews, one in- person interview, and seven further more in- depth follow- up questionnaires tailored to their previous responses via email. During the mostly Skype interviews we also asked if participants could send us screenshots of salient online exchanges they had experienced, such as trolling, or they types of content that they retweeted with explanations. This method could be enhanced and more in-depth through using Digital Social Media Diaries (see Volpe, 2019). We also took an in-depth look at the participant’s Twitter account post-interview to consider the issues they were tweeting about and why (for instance school girls tweeting about sexist dress codes and rape culture at school) (see Ringrose and Mendes, 2018).

Through this method we were able to triangulate data for instance around the prevalence of participants who challenged trolling in the sample (44/46), the qualitative experiences of trolling episodes, and screen shots of social media extracts demonstrating the trolling tweet exchanges or responses (see Mendes et al., 2019). A follow up project looked at experiences of contributing to #MeToo, and  we adopted a similar technique as above. We posted a link to an online survey on our Twitter accounts asking colleagues to share and spread. We asked for those who contributed to the hashtag to respond and forward the survey to others in their network via snowball sampling. The survey recruited 117 participants, including 115 females and 2 males, ranging from 18-64 years old with responses from UK, Sweden, Greece, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and the USA.

The survey also asked participants to leave an email contact if they were interested in taking part in a follow-on-interview. Through this method, we recruited 7 additional participants (6 females, 1 male), based in the UK, the Netherlands, and Greece. Through these follow on interviews, we were able to ask follow-on questions to key themes emerging from the survey responses (such as why people may have contributed to the hashtag without sharing a personal story), and to ask participants to give more detail about the conflicting ways they felt about their experience (a mixture of stress and healing).


Mendes, K. and Ringrose, J. (2019) ‘Digital Feminist Activism: #MeToo and the everyday experiences of challenging rape culture’ in Bianca Fileborn and Rachel Loney-Howes (eds.) #MeToo. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mendes, K, Ringrose, J. and Keller, J. (2018) #MeToo and the promise and pitfalls of challenging rape culture through digital feminist activism, European Journal of Women’s Studies2018, Vol. 25(2) 236–246.

Ringrose, J. and Mendes, K. (2018) Mediated Affect & Feminist Solidarity: Teens’ using Twitter to challenge ‘rape culture’ in and around school, in Editors: Tony Sampson, Darren Ellis and Stephen Maddison, Affect and Social Media,London: Rowman and Littlefield.

Retallack, H. Ringrose, J. and Lawrence, E. (2016). ‘Fuck your body image’: Teen girls’ Twitter and Instagram feminism in and around school in J. Coffey Shelley Budgeon and Helen Cahill (Eds.) Learning Bodies: The Body in Youth and Childhood Studies (pp.85103). London: Springer

Stewart, B. 2017. “Twitter as Method: Using Twitter as a Tool to Conduct Research.” In SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research, edited by Luke Sloan and Anabel Quan- Haase, 251– 265. London: Sage.

Volpe, C. (2019). Digital diaries: new uses of PhotoVoice in participatory research with young people, Children's Geographies, 17(3), pp.361-370.

Digital Mapping and Geospatial Technologies

Tracking/mapping how people use online systems and platforms to track movement or migration patterns, or to explore a particular phenomena

Buckle, C. (2020). "Touching, scrolling and swooping: Performing and representing migrant stories through geospatial technologies." Geoforum 111: 83-93. (face-to-face interviews, but can be modified to be virtual through screen-sharing)

Krieg, L. J., Berning, M., & Hardon, A. (2017). Anthropology with algorithms? An exploration of online drug knowledge using digital methods. Medicine Anthropology Theory, 3, 21-52.

Martin, M. E. and Schuurman, N. (2020) ‘Social Media Big Data Acquisition and Analysis for Qualitative GIScience: Challenges and Opportunities’, Annals of the American Association of Geographers. Routledge, 0(0), pp. 1–18. doi: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1696664.

Muenchow, J., Schäfer, S. and Krüger, E. (2019) ‘Reviewing qualitative GIS research—Toward a wider usage of open-source GIS and reproducible research practices’, Geography Compass, 13(6), pp. 1–17. doi: 10.1111/gec3.12441.

Live Streaming Apps

These apps could be used for ethnographic research by providing opportunities for people to talk to each other in real-time and to comment using the built-in response message systems. These apps could also be used for online teaching or conference presentations.

Here’s a recent list of ‘best mobile living streaming apps’: 10 Best Mobile Live Streaming Apps (2020)

Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

In progress

I'm working on the idea of how to document daily life of people in confinement at homes, but I find that it's impossible to enter each house and photograph situations, life style (drama, children, routines, fights, duties…) due to the private and government’s rules of access to other homes.

A group of photographers had opened the idea to share pictures taken day by day and publish by Instagram social network. The group doesn't mention how many photographers are involved in countries and methodology.

There is a press silent of facts happening in the most affected countries -- Italy and Spain. Staff Photojournalists are at home and due to the unions they don't move to the spots with high infection and deaths. There are no graphic documents of hospitals without equipment but many testimonies along the RRSS from workers (graphic and tweets) confirming the lack of masks and other equipment for nurses and doctors.

So, documenting the virus very closely is really impossible also because photographers don't have the equipment to protect themselves when working outside home. Many countries in the EU closed borders with other countries and the freedom of movement was reduced. In Spain there are cases of photojournalists covering this pandemia that had been fined by police when on the streets.

How to document this pandemic as photojournalist, anthropologist or documentary photographer without having been punished by authorities?

When all this situation finishes and we stop the curve, what kind of reliable graphic and testimonial material will we get to use as scientific evidence? In the RRSS there are many photos from private people, but many of them are memes and don't have a professional point of view. I mean, the visual anthropology should work close to the governments and authorities to create a body of work enough to be an evidence for the study of other sciences?

Situations like buy and stock a big amount of food and toilette paper should be documented at homes and interview to the families asking the reason. Sociologically there are several reasons on this point, most of them by panic spread by the media. In the first days of the announcement of "state of alarm", the main products like bread, fruit, vegetables, pasta and other envased in cans was not available in any of those places.

Any ideas of suggestions are welcome for doing the fieldwork in this pandemia.

Suggested readings

Collier, J. (1913). "Visual anthropology". Photography as a research method. 1986 Edition by University of New Mexico Press.

Suggested Photographic Projects (added by Joseph Kesisoglou, contact)

Find below some examples of practitioners with difficulty in accessing their subject. Regardless of an epidemic or not, there have always been difficulties in documenting subjects for all photographic practitioners, either due to the conditions of the surrounding environment, or due to privacy and consent. A practitioner addressing this issue through the dignified approaches of assisted self-portraiture and auto-ethonography, is Anthony Luvera. He has pioneered the participatory photography practice through empowering their individuals and their self-representation. A favourite of mine was how Anthony Luvera offered individuals single use film cameras to document their places they sleep at night (make-shift homes). This is relevant I believe to current day practitioners and researchers doing fieldwork without themselves being physically there, but rather mediated through devices and processes.

Explore more:

Using Internet Video Calling and Desktop Sharing as a Discrete Research Method

Elizabeth Hidson, University of Sunderland, UK.

I’ve been using internet video calling and desktop sharing, which I’ve called VCDS, since at least 2015, but was surprised that very little exists out there to support researchers to use this as a discrete research method. Writing up this methodology paper from my doctorate has taken a while - it’s currently under review with a journal, but I presented at BERA 2019 about it. The presentation is available here: in case it is useful for anyone. I’m not in a position to share the paper yet, but would be happy to have a chat with anyone about approaching research using video calling and desktop sharing not just for the traditional process, but for the possibilities that the desktop sharing of digital artefacts brings to the process.

Recording the process can be done within some software platforms, but can also be done using third-party software like Evaer or Open Broadcaster

I used the video as data and Atlas.ti for thematic analysis.

Recommended Books on Innovative and Creative Methods

Braun, V., Clarke, V., & Gray, D. (2017). Collecting Qualitative Data: A Practical guide to Textual, Media and Virtual Techniques. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Drozdzewsk, D. and Birdsall, C. (eds) (2019) Doing Memory Research: New Methods and Approaches. Houndmills: Palgrave.

Kara, H. (2015) Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide. Bristol: Policy Press.

Leavy, P. (2015) Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. New York: The Guildford Press.

Lenette, C. (2019) Arts-Based Methods in Refugee Research: Creating sanctuary. Springer.

Martin, B. and Hanington, B. (2012) Universal Methods of Design. Beverly: Rockport Publishers.

Pink, S. (2015) Doing Sensory Ethnography. 2nd edition. London: Sage.

Woodward, S. (2019) Material Methods: Researching and Thinking with Things. London: Sage.


Added by Lisanne Wilken

As part of our methods class at Global Studies, Aarhus University I use the following texts to introduce (n)ethnography to an interdisciplinary group of students:


18th November: Data collection online, challenges, practices, ethics.

During this lesson, we will discuss the possibilities and obstacles of doing online ethnography and studying social media



Kozinets, Robert V., Pierre-Yann Dolbec & Amanda Earley (2014) Netnographic Analysis: Understanding Culture through Social Media Data. In Uwe Flick (eds) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis. Dage: London: 262-275


boyd, danah & Kate Crawford (2012) Critical Questions for Big Data. Information, Communication & Society, 15:5, 662-679


Gómez Cruz, E. & San Cornelio. G (2018) Imagining discontent: political images and civic protests. In Marco Bohr & Basia Sliwinska. The Evolution of the image: Political action and the digital Self: Routledge


25 November Case study analysis

During the class, we will decipher different social media cases and discuss topics for the portfolio paper on social media/online ethnography



Kreis, Ramona (2017) #Refugeesnotwelcome: anti-refugee discourse on Twitter. Discourse and Communication. Vol 11: 5, 498-514


Meek, David (2011) Youtube and social movements: A phenomenological analysis of participation, events and cyperplace. Antipode


Waltorp, Karen (2015) Keeping cool, staying virtuous. Social media and the composite habitus of young Muslim women in Copenhagen. Mediekultur. Journal of Media Culture and Communication, 58: 49-67


Studying Europe online

Added by Lisanne Wilken

This is the curriculum for a course, Europe Online, I teach at European Studies, Aarhus University. It is an interdisciplinary course which draws on several disciplinary approaches including ethnography


Lesson 1, September 6, 10-14, 1453/229

Introductions & Methodologies


Giglietto, Fabio, Luca Rossi & Davide Bennato (2012) The open laboratory. Limits and possibilities of using Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube as a research data resource. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 30: 3-4, 145-159 


Kozinets, Robert V., Pierre-Yann Dolbec & Amanda Earley (2014) Netnographic Analysis: Understanding Culture through Social Media Data. In Uwe Flick (eds) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis. Dage: London: 262-275


Couldry, N & U. Mejias (2018) Data Colonialism. Rethinking Big Data’s Relation to the Contemporary Subject. Television and New Media.



Lesson 2, September 10, 10-14. 1485/238

Online disinformation and fake news


Bennett & Livinston (2018) The disinformation order: disruptive communication and the decline of democratic institutions. European Journal of Communication, vol 3, 2: 122-139


Asmolov, Gregory (2018) The disconnecting power of disinformation Campaigns. Journal of International Affairs, vol 17:5, 69-76.


DiFranzo, Dominic & Kristine Gloria Garcia (2017) Filter Bubbles and fake news. The ABC Magazine



Lesson 3, September 20

The EU on the Internet: Communication, election and public sphere?


Hänska, Max & Stefan Bauchowic (2019) Can social media facilitate a European Public sphere? Transnational communication and the Europeanisation of Twitter during the Eurozone Crisis. Social Media + Society. 1-14


Roginsky, Sandrine (2014) Social networking sites an innovative communication on Europe? The Journal of Media Innovations. Vol 1:2.


Krzyzanowski social media in/and politics of the European Union. Journal of Language and Politics 17:2 (2018)



Segesten, A & M Borsetta (2017) The Eurosceptic Europeanisation of public spheres: print and social media reactions to the 2014 European Parliament elections.



Lesson 4, September 24, 10-14, 1485/238

Terrorism on social media


Klausen, Jytte (2014) Tweeting the Jihad: Social media networks of Western foreign fighters. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. Vol 28,1: 1-22


Badaway, Adam & Emilio Ferrara (2017) The rise of Jihadist propaganda on social networks.


Awan, Imran (2017) Cyber-extremism: Isis and the power of social media. Society, vol 54:2, 138-149


Giglietto, Fabio & Yenn Lee (2017) A Hashtag worth a thousand words. Discursive strategies around #jenesuispascharlie after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting. Social Media + Society. Vol 3:1,



Lesson 5, October 1st 10-14, 1485/238

Brexit on the internet

Polonski, Vyacheslav (2015) Analysing the social media voices of the UK's EU referendum.


Usherwood, S & Wright, K (2017) Sticks and stones: Comparing Twitter campaigning strategies. British Journal of Politics and International relations.


 Bastos, M and D Mercea (2017) The Brexit Botnet and user generated hyperpartisan news.


Lesson 6, October 8 10-14, 1453/229

Refugee crisis online

Frouws, Bram and Phillips, Melissa and Hassan, Ashraf & Twigt, Mirjam, Getting to Europe the Whatsapp Way: The Use of ICT in Contemporary Mixed Migration Flows to Europe (June 2016). Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat Briefing Paper, 2016.


Kreis, Ramona (2017) #Refugeesnotwelcome: anti-refugee discourse on Twitter. Discourse and Communication. Vol 11: 5, 498-514


Latonero, M & P. Kift (2018) On digital passages and borders. Refugees and the new infrastructure for movement and control. Social Media + Society.


Kutscher, Nadia  & Lisa-Marie Kreß (2016) “Internet is the same like food” – An empirical study on the use of digital media by unaccompanied minor refugees in Germany, Transnational Social Review, 6:1-2, 200-203



Gillespie, Marie et al (2016) Mapping Refugee Media Journeys. Smartphones and Social Media Networks. Research Report. Open University/France Média Monde (98pp)


UN High Commissioners of refugees

Understanding perceptions of migrants and refugees in Europe from social media.