I have recently published a paper on the academic peer reviewed journal Sociological Research Online (SRO). The title of the paper, which I have co-written with two colleagues (Paul Symonds and Dr David Brown) is “Skype as a Tool for Qualitative Research Interviews” and the whole article is now readable online at http://www.socresonline.org.uk/21/2/12.html. I thought that I would also give you a quick introduction about the purpose and value of this paper, for those of you who research dance forms because VoIP software (such as Skype and Facetime) offer us some great opportunities. In particular, if you are researching dance a a form of cultural heritage, the way dance heritage spreads around the world is an important topic to study and Skype can be a very useful tool.
Dance has always been and is even more now, because of globalisation and modern technologies, an international phenomenon. For example, ballet is danced all over the world and so are other dance forms such as Egyptian belly dance, Bharathanatyam, hip hop and more. For this reason, it can be useful to study dance transculturally and our research participants may be located all over the world. Reaching them though is not always financially and logistically viable, so Skype, FaceTime and other VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) methods can be invaluable tools to allow us to connect with practitioners all over the world. Hence, the opportunity to do qualitative sociological research for dance using online interviews is now possible with real time synchronous audio and video feeds using software such as FaceTime and Skype.
Even when we are studying dance forms which are localised in one area, trying to spend as much as in the field studying dance at close quarters as an anthropologist to study dance forms such as Cocolo Dance from the Dominican Republic, Rabinal Achí dance from Guatemala, or some other dance form, it is not always possible in person. We may start researching in the place but, if we need to do some follow up interviews, online methods can be very useful. The good news these days is that VoIP are making it easier than ever for us to undertake global research using online methods.
For dance specifically, we can teach, do interviews, collaborate on choreography projects, exchange files, view dance and much more via live video feeds. VoIP can never completely replace in person interaction, but, if anything, it can complement the opportunities we have as dance researchers. Consider the following with dance and Skype as a research tool, with the chance to:
In the article we also look at key research method issues, particularly the issues of