Remote control: evaluating the potential of virtual desktops as a data collection tool in studies exploring how people use the Internet

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Abstract

This study explores how virtual desktops hosted within a cloud computing environment can be used as a data capture tool to undertake research exploring web-browsing and web-searching behaviour. It details the protocol used to observe the task-orientated web interactions of 105 university and school aged participants within the confines of a research experiment and considers the comparability between data collected remotely via virtual desktops and data collected in a controlled environment. Data collected remotely via virtual desktops is found to be comparable to data collected in the field across a number of key statistics, with remote data collection making recruitment and participation more convenient, whilst potentially reducing response bias. The protocol detailed has broad potential for adaption where there is a need to remotely capture participants’ web-use in a cost-effective and non-technical manner. Limitations with the protocol are identified and possibilities for future adaptations are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-546
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Volume20
Issue number5
Early online date9 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2016

Keywords

  • Internet
  • virtual desktops
  • cloud computing
  • methodology
  • social research
  • human-computer interaction
  • legal knowledge

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