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On-line instruments for qualitative analysis through the Covid-19 pandemic

The advantages and challenges of utilizing a digital platform for qualitative analysis to discover the experiences of respiratory nurses through the Covid-19 pandemic


Covid-19 restrictions required qualitative researchers to interview contributors on-line quite than in particular person. This strategy was used to analysis the experiences of specialist respiratory nurses through the pandemic. The researcher explored the advantages and challenges of the net strategy by a journal and participant suggestions. The outcomes recommend there’s a persevering with position for on-line information assortment as a part of qualitative analysis as a doable various to in-person interviews.

Quotation: Murray B (2022) On-line instruments for qualitative analysis through the Covid-19 pandemic. Nursing Instances [online]; 118: 6.

Creator: Bridget Murray is programme director and nurse tutor, Royal Faculty of Surgeons in Eire, College of Drugs and Well being Sciences, Dublin.

  • This text has been double-blind peer reviewed
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Advances in communication know-how supply new methods of finishing up qualitative analysis. On-line interviews have come to the fore due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however literature on the usage of video conferencing know-how to gather on-line qualitative information is proscribed (Weller, 2015). To harness experiences of utilizing on-line platforms for qualitative analysis through the pandemic, and assist their future use, there’s a have to appraise the benefit of use of those applied sciences and any variations within the resultant communication fashion (Iacono et al, 2016).

To replicate on my private expertise of conducting qualitative interviews on-line for a analysis venture on the experiences of specialist respiratory nurses through the pandemic, I stored a reflective journal. The entries gave me the chance to discover the complexity of utilizing digital platforms, the advantages and challenges, and the importance of conducting on-line interviews.

Utilizing a reflective journal provides qualitative researchers a possibility to concentrate on the voice of contributors, together with their ideas and experiences of utilizing a digital platform, whereas additionally recording the researcher’s personal ideas. A reflective journal shouldn’t be solely an essential technique of amassing information on contributors in qualitative analysis, but in addition allows researchers to study themselves (Phelps, 2005).


Braun et al (2017) believed that on-line strategies can add to, complement and even enhance on conventional analysis, together with in-person interviews. Researchers should acknowledge the potential of digital platforms to enhance geographical attain and recruitment, however the speedy tempo of improvement could make it laborious to remain updated with the most recent digital analysis instruments. As my research was carried out through the pandemic, use of a digital platform gave specialist respiratory nurses the chance to take part within the research when researchers’ in-person entry to the scientific surroundings was not doable.

In complete, 15 specialist respiratory nurses participated; one-to-one, semi-structured interviews have been carried out on-line. Zoom, a digital communication platform, was chosen for the interviews, as it’s extensively used, together with by hospitals, and allowed contributors to hitch the interview session through an e-mail hyperlink with out creating an account.

Benefits of the digital platform, in addition to limiting the chance of spreading Covid-19, have been that it eradicated journey time and allowed me to interview nurses from my residence workplace of their residence or work surroundings at a time that was handy to them. Some interviews have been within the early morning or late night, which might not have been doable if they’d been carried out in particular person.

Members discovered the digital platform consumer pleasant and expressed how straightforward the log-in course of was, regardless of some nurses experiencing technological glitches. I aimed to deal with any considerations initially of every interview by familiarising contributors with the platform. Issues, once they occurred, have been largely because of poor web protection, notably in rural areas. Different challenges included contributors changing into emotional due to the sensitivity of the subject; this was overcome by taking breaks and giving extra time to contributors through the interview.

I didn’t straight search contributors’ views on utilizing the net digital platform, however I did acquire their unsolicited views. An entry in my reflective journal outlined a number of the experiences (Field 1).

Field 1. Researcher’s journal: contributors’ experiences of utilizing the digital platform

I famous that various contributors discover it very straightforward and enjoyable utilizing [the] digital platform from the consolation of their properties and commented on how consumer pleasant it was. Nonetheless, I did have two contributors the place I needed to ask them to telephone me, and I needed to instruct them step-by-step on how to go online to the digital platform, which took up time and I had to pay attention to my method and tone. I additionally did a trial run with one participant as she was anxious and didn’t need points on the schedule[d] day of the interview.

Know-how issues

When deciding which on-line platform to make use of, I explored the next:

  • What are the best applied sciences to make use of?
  • Will they lead to variations in, or require other ways of, speaking?
  • Will they replicate the options of in-person interviews?
  • Do they permit the researcher and contributors to transmit and reply to verbal and non-verbal cues?

Iacono et al (2016) acknowledged that researchers can expertise fears and concern when utilizing Skype as a instrument for qualitative analysis interviews.

When conducting on-line interviews, researchers must study new methods to construct belief and inspire contributors to contribute (Salmons, 2014). I recognised that some contributors would have most well-liked being interviewed in particular person as a result of they lacked curiosity and confidence in utilizing digital applied sciences. I accommodated these contributors by conducting a trial run with the know-how; as this was a lesson in the best way to use the tools, the analysis was not mentioned. This was time-consuming for me, nevertheless it elevated participant confidence and helped construct rapport so, when it got here to the precise interview, contributors have been relaxed and cozy sufficient to participate.

On-line interviews, whereas offering some benefits over in-person interviews, additionally introduced challenges, about which I contemplated as a researcher.

Field 2 exhibits my first impressions of utilizing a web based platform to interview a research participant.

Field 2. Researcher’s journal: first impressions of on-line interviews

It went nicely, the know-how platform labored! The respiratory nurse specialist participant appeared relaxed (we have been each laughing saying goodbye), I believe taking these 10 minutes earlier than the interview to have a chat in regards to the climate actually helped to construct rapport with participant […] particularly if there was a know-how drawback. To have a glass of water and tissues close to you additionally helped. I bear in mind her remark: ‘Now you’re not going to make me cry.’ I did discover that, as soon as I began recording, the physique language barely modified however, because the interview continued, the participant grew to become extra relaxed. It’s attention-grabbing [what] the usage of a reputation [can do]. I felt when the respiratory nurse specialist participant used my title within the interview, dialogue grew to become extra highly effective between us.

Constructing rapport

Whether or not a face-to-face interview is in particular person or on-line, contributors might begin off being aware that it’s being recorded. Nonetheless, because the interview progresses, they usually start to calm down and have interaction extra till they virtually overlook that it’s being recorded. The target of the qualitative researcher is to entry contributors’ ideas, emotions and experiences; when contributors start to consult with the researcher by title, it means a familiarity is beginning to be established and a part of that goal is being achieved. Facilitating engagement and constructing belief is essential to advertise a pure and relaxed dialog.

Constructing rapport with an interviewee is essential and, to assist with this, I advised contributors there can be time to speak earlier than and after the interview. Researchers want to have the ability to reply to non-verbal cues, corresponding to facial expressions and gestures; Archibald et al (2019) recommended that on-line face-to-face interviews may yield wealthy information on this respect.

In-person interviews help you keep near contributors’ information and occasions skilled by them by choosing up non-verbal cues and indicators of emotion, and recognising the worth of silence. As you search to construct rapport, you have to be ready to speak much less and hear extra, deal with troublesome feelings, contemplate cultural and energy dimensions and forge essential relationships with contributors (Sandelowski, 2000). My expertise is that this is identical when interviewing on-line. I used to be in a position to monitor and reply to contributors’ facial and physique indicators, corresponding to furrowing their forehead when uncertain and utilizing hand actions when explaining a degree.

Understanding the notion of researcher identification is a vital facet of transitioning from a longtime skilled position to that of researcher. Interpretations of researcher identification relate to a set of underlying conceptual dimensions and theoretical stances, together with transitioning amongst identities, balancing identification continuity and alter, and private identification improvement by time (Castelló et al, 2021). To kind an identification as a nurse researcher you continue to have to recognise your self as being a nurse. As a nurse interviewing different nurses, I’ve some understanding of the participant’s expertise as a nurse and may relate to it. Introducing myself as a nurse researcher, and revealing my true self and surroundings, helped me to develop a rapport with contributors (Field 3).

Field 3. Researcher’s journal: creating rapport

When constructing rapport with the respiratory nurse specialist contributors, and from studying the literature, I knew I needed to set the scene, ensure that they felt comfy, and inform them they may take a break anytime as know-how may be draining. I used to be aware of my tone and facial features.

“To my shock, constructing rapport was letting the contributors see the researcher and see the researcher in her surroundings (no false background on the display screen) so, there was not a way of ‘evilness’/energy (the researcher shouldn’t be in her ivory tower). What do I imply by this? I believe certainly one of my contributors summed it up on the finish of the interview when she commented on my background [on the screen] and that it was not a false background, it was the place I used to be working from. She commented on the toy tractor and requested if this was my residence, and thanked me for conducting the interview from my residence. On one other event, I solely realised what number of instances one respiratory nurse specialist participant used my title in the midst of the interview whereas I used to be transcribing.
I really feel this additionally assist contributors construct rapport and familiarity.

Potential challenges

The advantages of interviewing contributors on-line outweighed any technological challenges, not least by making the research doable within the pandemic. Nonetheless, there are some factors that may be thought of to assist put contributors comfy with the method:

  • Verify tools is working earlier than the interview;
  • Have a back-up plan to cope with any technological points;
  • Schedule on-line interviews at a time handy for the participant;
  • Conduct a trial run, particularly if contributors are unfamiliar with the digital platform;
  • Bear in mind, it’s OK to have pauses and silences through the interview that aren’t attributable to technical points;
  • Take into account making time to speak earlier than and after the interview.

Field 4 exhibits my reflections on the problems that arose and have been linked to finishing up interviews on-line.

Field 4. Researcher’s journal: web points

There’s such a distinction in web connection high quality between city and rural areas, and I actually didn’t take into consideration that an excessive amount of till I began conducting interviews. For instance, one participant agreed to be a part of the research however emailed me to see if we may schedule the interview early morning or late at evening when [their] web [connection] is best. One other participant moved to a unique room because of poor web [connection] and was in her administrative center. This makes me assume, if the interviews have been face-to-face, in particular person, would we now have to maneuver room? On reflection, this could possibly be seen as a problem of interviews on-line, the place [the] circulation of dialog may have been disturbed.

“I don’t really feel that the web platform excluded respiratory nurse specialist participation, however it might have been one thing on their thoughts that I hadn’t thought of earlier than.”

Issue maintaining with speedy developments in digital platforms means their potential utility as analysis instruments might go underrecognised and underutilised. The primary benefit is, nonetheless, the flexibleness they will supply for contributors.

Reflective journal

As a reflective practitioner, retaining a reflective journal all through the method was commonplace or undesired. I did this not solely at structured instances – corresponding to, after every interview – but in addition when concepts, questions or ideas in regards to the analysis course of crossed my thoughts, normally after a stroll or throughout self-care time. Holding a reflective journal may be difficult, nevertheless it allowed me to decide to paper unstructured considering and delve extra deeply into areas of curiosity or concern, in addition to noting interview experiences that may not have occurred in particular person (Field 5).

Field 5. Researcher’s journal: online-only experiences

One participant had a clock chiming within the background each quarter-hour, and it was type of distracting for me, however the participant didn’t appear to note. A participant emailed me previous to the interview letting me know she was sporting her uniform to look as skilled as doable on the digital platform. One other participant had a canine within the room together with her and he or she apologised for the canine barking, telling me earlier than we began the interview that she would use a headset when the interview was being recorded and that she might have to let the canine out through the interview. The canine was so good and didn’t make a sound when the interview was occurring. My ideas on the time have been: ‘This is able to solely occur on a digital platform; if you happen to have been conducting the interviews in particular person, there positively wouldn’t be a canine within the room’. On the plus facet, it helps construct rapport with that participant earlier than the interview.

Given the distant areas of some contributors, and variations between rural and concrete web capabilities, the digital platform labored nicely. Taking time to deal with contributors’ considerations, and to assist them really feel relaxed and comfy with the method, undoubtedly helped. The reflective journal revealed to me the significance of:

  • Constructing in time to speak earlier than and after the interview;
  • Making ready (however not influencing) contributors with a trial run, if wanted, IT assist and common preparation;
  • Recognising that pauses and breaks are a standard a part of on-line interviews.


Utilizing a digital platform allowed me to hold out qualitative analysis into specialist respiratory nurses’ experiences through the Covid-19 pandemic. Having mirrored on the advantages and challenges of the strategy, researchers ought to contemplate rethinking their interview strategy and embrace digital, alongside in-person, information assortment.

Key factors

  • Digital platforms have been essential in enabling qualitative analysis into nurses’ experiences through the Covid-19 pandemic
  • The researcher’s reflective diary gave insights into the advantages and challenges of on-line interviews
  • Strategies of constructing belief and motivating folks on-line, quite than in particular person, might differ, however a robust rapport can nonetheless be established between the researcher and participant
  • The web format used had the benefit of being extra handy for contributors, though some folks skilled technical points
  • Qualitative nurse researchers ought to contemplate embracing digital information assortment alongside in-person approaches in future tasks

Archibald MM et al (2019) Utilizing Zoom videoconferencing for qualitative information assortment: perceptions and experiences of researchers and contributors. Worldwide Journal of Qualitative Strategies; 18.

Braun V et al (2017) Improvements in qualitative strategies. In: Gough B (ed) The Palgrave Handbook of Important Social Psychology. Palgrave Macmillan.

Castelló M et al (2021) What views underlie ‘researcher identification’? A assessment of twenty years of empirical research. Greater Schooling; 81: 567-590.

Iacono VL et al (2016) Skype as a instrument for qualitative analysis interviews. Sociological Analysis On-line; 21: 2, 103-117.

Phelps R (2005) The potential of reflective journals in finding out complexity ‘in motion’. Complicity: An Worldwide Journal of Complexity and Schooling; 2: 1, 37-54.

Salmons J (2014) Qualitative On-line Interviews: Methods, Design and Abilities. SAGE.

Sandelowski M (2000) No matter occurred to qualitative description? Analysis in Nursing and Well being; 23: 4, 334-340.

Weller S (2015) The Potentials and Pitfalls of Utilizing Skype for Qualitative (Longitudinal) Interviews. Nationwide Centre for Analysis Strategies.


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