Table 3

Unforeseen opportunities

Video interviewingOftentimes, we code transcripts. Verbatim transcripts are an excellent way to tease out verbalized features of a conversation. However, much of the depth of a conversation may be lost because ‘silent’ communication is not captured during transcription. Videos allow us to code not just the text, but also much of the body language and emotional texture of an interview in a manner that may not otherwise be possible.
RecruitmentRecruitment was generally faster, particularly in urban settings or settings with strong internet or mobile access. Additionally, we did not experience a higher refusal rate compared with face-to-face data collection.
Low costsFace-to-face interviewing requires travel across several locations, some of which may be in hard-to-reach rural areas, requiring high financial costs (ie, vehicle access, fuel, per diems and accommodation of the research team). Remote data collection can be done on a reduced budget.
Minimization of environmental dilemmasOnline and phone-based approaches reduce ecological and carbon footprints because researchers and teams are not travelling to/within countries.
Reduce possibility of awkwardness and embarrassment on sensitive topicsOur data suggest that, for some respondents (and possibly also for some research assistants), discomfort seems to be reduced when using remote formats. Discussion of sensitive information was often much easier remotely.
Skills buildingResearch assistants appreciated learning how to use remote technologies, representing an added skill that is transferrable to several aspects of their professional and personal lives.
Expanded data collection opportunitiesRemote data collection may expand opportunities for participation to individuals who would not have been able to travel to enrol in a study. Additionally, investigators and students who are not based locally have an increased ability to participate in and lead data collection activities.