Conducting virtual qualitative research became more common as researchers adjusted to the pandemic. Today, virtual, in person and hybrid research methods are used to complete projects as effectively as possible. Quirk’s has compiled a list of seven tips to help you decide whether to conduct your qualitative research in person or virtually. 

There can be overlap in the research methods used in virtual and in-person research, but some work more effectively with one than the other.  

Virtual focus groups, ethnographies, observations and digital diaries can all be done online. According to Tom Donnelly, Jason Mandelbaum and Hiba Rahman-Vyas, authors of “The power of (virtual) observation and iteration,” a benefit of virtual ethnographies and observations is that they can be conducted with a more broad and diverse sample of participants that can participate on their own time. Shardooli Mann, author of “Virtual qual: What we loved and loathed,” says that researchers enjoy creating connections through online research but many technology barriers and challenges exist. While many virtual focus groups are successful, some may result in unnatural conversations. Some research methods are done better virtually while others can be challenging to conduct online.

While many methods can be done both virtually or in-person, some are easier to conduct while face-to-face with your team and participants. In “Despite what you’ve heard, qualitative is not dead” by Marisa Pope, she argues that some research methods cannot be effectively conducted using virtual methods. This includes taste tests, jury and legal research and, sometimes, observations and interviews. Remote participants may not be as engaged with the research as those who are participating in person. 

Pope argues that when deciding between in-person vs. remote qualitative research, consider what you are comfortable sacrificing. For example, you can condu...