Qualitative research is increasingly moving from in-person to virtual, online or remote approaches. Evidence-based approaches are required to understand where and how the design of virtual, online or remote qualitative data capture methods influences data value and research quality.
This can include:
- the effect of remote data capture methods on engagement or populations
- impact of context
- assumptions regarding moderators (for example, therapeutic alliance, social interactions).
Funding is available for methodology research that delivers generalisable learning (that is, learning directly relevant beyond a single research application or method) that improves the understanding, design and use of remote data capture within qualitative research.
COVID-19 has accelerated the move away from in-person approaches to qualitative research. Although applicants should recognise and build on the resources developed by the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM), funding is not available to directly support changes within ongoing research.
However, opportunities for generalisable methodological learning created by shifts from in-person to remote are considered within scope.
Where there is a clear case for added value above NCRM activity, scoping current evidence, coupled with either a systematic methods overview (Systematic Review Journal) or a systematic review of guidance would be eligible for funding.
Reviews or evidence synthesis should inform our understanding of where and when methods and approaches to remote data capture are optimal. Reviews or evidence synthesis should be framed within a pathway to improve the methods being used by others.
In addition to methodological design, reviews or synthesis can be extended to include other aspects of delivery:
- ethical issues, for example,storage of new types of data
- practical issues, for example, mode, safety and security of recording and storage or access for low-income participants
- quality, for example, loss of therapeutic alliance, hidden context, uncertain confidentiality
- training, digital literacy of interviewers and participants
- reach, engagement
- other limiting methodological challenges.
Methodology research to address clearly identified, evidenced common methods gaps (for example, interviews) in remote data capture would also be eligible for funding.
All proposals must consider the approaches and resources required for outreach and to support meaningful improvement in the research methods of others.
All proposals must provide a clear case for the importance to the MRC or National Institute for Health Research of the methods targeted for improvement.
We will normally award up to £500,000 and support 80% of the full economic costs of your proposal. If you anticipate requesting funding of more than £500,000, you should contact the programme manager.
Methods in this context do not include technology or biomarker development (although new methodological approaches as the primary research focus to improve their implementation or broader uptake may be considered).
If you are seeking support for development of a methodology within a specific application, you should apply through the relevant MRC research board. You should include a covering letter noting the relevance to the ‘Better methods, better research’ programme.
We encourage applicants to learn from others where possible, and welcome multidisciplinary teams or approaches.
Find out more about the ‘Better research, better methods’ programme remit (MRC).