Conducting Safe and Ethical Research during Coronavirus

5 March 2020
Billy Kennedy

Billy Kennedy

Head of UX

Using real world needs of users to influence effective and simple designs.

During the current outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), there are some obvious concerns around conducting research with participants in the UK and internationally. We certainly hope for containment and no further loss of life and wanted to share our ideas on how to address this. Spotless recognises the risks around Coronavirus, and have taken steps to address these, as well as to offer alternative methods of research which will still provide valuable insights and results during this time.



Participant Recruitment

As part of conducting safe research during the coronavirus outbreak, we will be screening participants based on the following criteria:

  • Recent travel to countries listed by the UK government as at risk for the coronavirus.
  • Current or recent health issues which match COVID-19 symptoms (self-reporting).
  • At-risk areas / populations, e.g. those who live or work in close proximity to known areas of outbreak in the UK.


In-lab Safety

  • Any participants showing signs of illness (in particular coughing, sneezing or sweating) either before or during a session are respectfully asked to leave.
  • We ensure that participants wash their hands before sessions, and use antibacterial hand gel before handling any devices.
  • Devices and lab surfaces are wiped down using antibacterial gel / spray in between sessions.
  • Clients are kept separate from participants at all times, therefore limiting any potential spread.


Remote Sessions and Viewing

  • As an alternative to in-lab or in-person research, Spotless offers full remote research and viewing capabilities. Interviews can be carried out over Skype, Webex, Hangouts, or Phone with participants in any location.
  • These sessions can be streamed worldwide, limiting any health risk to clients, participants or researchers.
  • Extra time is allowed for setup of each session, and participants are reimbursed remotely using vouchers, bank transfer, or PayPal. 
  • Remote sessions offer most of the advantages of in-lab sessions, while negating all potential risks of COVID-19.
  • Sessions can also take place in the lab, with our clients streaming remotely, allowing for more complex lab methods, while maintaining safety.

Alternate research methods

  • As well as remote interviews, other types of remote or desk-based research can be effective in delivery insights.
  • Diary Studies can be conducted entirely remotely, and allow for the rich capture of user behaviours. In the past we have utilised video, audio, screenshots, photography and text to paint a detailed picture of user behaviours. 
  • Expert Holistic reviews can be conducted without the need to recruit participants and frequently highlight issues in a quick and cost effective manner.
Ben Logan - Director

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