Author: Hur Hassnain
Within the research and evaluation world, the use of remote data collection, especially with the use of ICTs, has become increasingly prevalent. It provides us with the opportunity to gather primary data in contexts where it is not possible to have direct interaction with respondents, e.g., during the current COVID-19 pandemic and/or when the environment is not safe. However, remote data collection also poses several potential risks which need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
In the first blog post of the #Evalcrisis series Embracing the Pandemic we discussed how ICT tools can provide solutions to conduct data collection remotely during the current crisis as well as in hard to reach contexts and we provided the pros and cons of utilizing different methods e.g. remote surveys, online interviews, geospatial technology.
Whilst remote data collection and the use of ICTs can bring huge potential for evaluations conducted during the current crisis and in hard to reach contexts, evaluators and commissioners need to be mindful of the risks which should be considered.
Risks can include increased attention to the evaluation activities, the risk that sensitive data gets in wrong hands and the risk to geo-localize surveyors and enumerators. It is important to remember that many people still experience limited internet/mobile phone access therefore conducting remote data collection in some contexts could lead to the risk of sample selection bias in the primary data collected. Added to this are factors such as the literacy of target respondents and gender-related barriers to the use of social media or phones. The European Commission DG DEVCO/ESS’s Call to Action Paper on Evaluation in Hard to Reach Areas provides a more in depth account on this topic, especially conflict sensitivity, Do No Harm and ethics in doing or managing evaluations in such contexts.
This is a question that almost every evaluator in today’s time is asking. Although the discussion on this may require a series of blog posts but let us start from the following steps to avoid interruptions to your remote data collection activities:
Disclaimer: Views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of their employers.
This article was first published on the European Commission knowledge sharing website: https://europa.eu/capacity4dev/devco-ess/news/evalcrisis-blog-04-mitigating-risks-remote-data-collection