Using online methods, I found 36 individuals who talked openly online about donating to Our Data Helps. From this group, I became close with seven individuals whom I interviewed - with their consent and in complete transparency regarding my research intentions. These seven participants were aged between 23 and 65. Four were female, three were male. They came from various cities across Canada, America, and England. In conjunction, I also interviewed two employees of Our Data Helps, as well as several data donors from other data donation platforms - Tidepool, Waoo, and Data.world.
Using broad, open-ended questions designed to avoid influencing the respondent’s answers, I adopted a phenomenological interview technique (Field & Morse, 1985).
This allowed space for exploration of feelings and memories and further ensured the data collection was free from preconceived notions, expectations, and frameworks. Given the locational disparities of participants, when conducting semi-structured interviews, I took a multi-platform method, communicating with participants across Skype, Email, Twitter, private message, and Facebook video call. This online approach also facilitated anonymity, which was necessary given the sensitive nature of some participants’ experiences. Communicating with participants across a diversity of platforms also accommodated the bias of online communication methods - as each medium has an impact (Durham & Kellner, 2012; 108).
I took a dual approach to the process of analyzing collected interview data to heighten both understanding and the representation of complexities relating to how this phenomenon is felt, understood, and formulated. During the initial stages, I used an open inductive analysis method through a process of open coding. Concepts emerging from coding were acknowledged and influenced the ongoing research and interviewing. Following traditional methods of Grounded Theory, in the final stages of analysis, I developed categories from the clustering of codes, which then linked to form a tentative conceptual framework. I then shifted to a phenomenological approach in my synthesis of the shared experience of data donation. In this way, respecting the individuality of the narrative content of the phenomenological semi-structured interviews.