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Is app-ification of research nigh?

From the useful (ordering a taxi) to the downright strange (sending a 'yo') it seems there is an app for practically everything. And now, qualitative interviewing has become the latest task to get the app treatment.

The newly launched StoryCorps app allows you to interview your nearest and dearest via your smartphone and then upload it to the company’s online archive, as well as to a collection at the US Library of Congress. Not only does the app enable you to conduct the interviews, but it also helps the user build an appropriate topic guide, by selecting probes from an extensive list of commonly used questions.

But while the app’s emphasis on peer interviewing may have value for exploratory research or capturing a snapshot of consumers’ lives, it doesn’t allow a third party (either client- or agency-side) to probe on key areas of interest because it only allows ‘preset’ probes, which is a significant drawback. What it does offer, though, is an interesting model for delivering qualitative research.

StoryCorps’ archive works in a similar way to a social network, enabling users to follow other users and listen to, like and share interviews, bringing respondents to life in a way that is often impossible through traditional face-to-face interviewing.


Jill Sarsfield
Research Director, Razor Research Ltd

This article was first published in InBrief magazine, June 2015
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2015