Starting a new study can be done easily through Ethica online dashboard. When you login to your dashboard, on the top right corner of your browser, you can see a link for New Study, as shown in the image below:
If you do not see this link in your Ethica dashboard, it means your account is not marked as researcher account and you do not have the permission to create a new account. You can read more about account types in Accounts section.
Clicking on New Study opens the page to define a new study.
The first step is to select the research group who is conducting this study. It's very important to select the right group, as all other members of this group will have access to this study and all data collected for it. If none of the groups shown here matches the group of researchers who you want to share the study with, send us an email with the information on the accounts who you want to form a new research group with, and we will create the new group.
If you don't see any list to select your research group, it means you are part of one research group only, and by default the study is assigned to that research group.
The following image shows the list of research groups available to the user.
Name and Description
After selecting your research group, you need to provide a name and a description for this study. The name should be short and concise, while description is expected to be longer text describing what is this study about, what sort of data being collected and why, etc. You can think of description as a simplified consent form, so the content you include there can be the simplified version of the consent form.
The following image shows the name and description given to a new study.
Including a descriptive and easy-to-read name and description is particularly important because they will be used by Ethica app to present your study to the participants. Participants will see these content during their registration, and afterwards on the home screen of your study in Ethica app. You can see how these information will be presented to participants in Participants section.
The next step is to specify the study period (as described before). Here you can specify when the study starts (when is the earliest time which the data collection can start) and when the study ends (at which time the data collection ends).
Note that participants can join prior to study start time as well. In this case, their participation period still starts on study start time. For example you can specify study period from June 1st 2016 to June 1st 2017, but start enrolment from May 1st 2016, and enrol few participants before June 1st 2016. Ethica will not collect any data from these participants until June 1st 2016, at which point it starts the data collection for all enrolled participants at the same time.
Here you also should specify participation duration, i.e. how long each participant will be part of this study. Ethica automatically calculates participation period for each participant as soon as they join, based on participation duration. You can specify the participation duration to be the same as study period. This way, the data collection on all participants starts as soon as they join the study (or as soon as the study start time is reached, whichever is later), and it ends at the end of study period.
Alternatively you can select a different participation duration by unchecking 'Keep the participation duration the same as study period.', and entering the new participation period in days. In the following image, participants can join anytime between May 15th 2016 to May 15th 2017. Their data collection starts as soon as they join (assuming it's passed May 15th 2016) and continues for 30 days (assuming it will not reach May 15th 2017).
Selecting Data Streams
After defining study period and participation duration, you should select the type of data you want to collect as part of the study. You can add streams one by one by clicking on Add new stream as shown below:
This opens Add New Stream dialog where you can select a new stream of data.
As you select a stream from the list, you can read a short description on what that stream is and what sort of data that collects. For more details on the stream, please refer to Streams section.
For each stream of data you also can specify the data collection period as explained previously. Additionally you can choose whether the stream is mandatory or optional. If a stream is defined as optional, Ethica app allows participants to opt-out from providing that type of data, if they choose too. On the other hand for mandatory streams, participants are required to provide the data. You can read on how participants will have the option to opt-out from a given stream or pause data collection for all streams in Snoozing the Data Collection for Participants section.
The following image shows we have selected GPS, Wi-Fi, Accelerometer, and Survey Responses as the streams we require for our data collection, where except Wi-Fi the remaining data streams are amndatory. Also except Accelerometer, data collection happens on the remaining streams for the entire participation period.
While we selected Survey Responses stream as one of the data to be collected for this study, we have not defined any survey yet. Adding surveys to a study can be done after creating the study. You can read more about adding surveys in Surveys section.
The last step in defining a study is to specifying a few configurations. First whether the participant attributes should be shared between other participants, and also what is the study background.
Each survey in a study can have a custom context analyzer, which analyzes the available data to the current participant and decides whether it has to release a survey or not. For some context, the data available to the participant is not enough, and the context analyzer needs to know some basic information about other participants in the study as well, on order to decide whether the survey has to be issued or not.
For example, think about a study where the participants are divided into two groups, and a given survey should be triggered when a face-to-face contact is detected between participants of the same group. In this case each participant will be assigned an attribute determining whether they belong to group 1 or group 2. Subsequently during the study, each context analyzer will require to have access to attributes of all participants in the study in order to decide whether a participant in proximity belongs to group 1 or group 2.
By default, sharing any data between participants is not allowed in Ethica, and each participant acts independently in the system. To change this behaviour and allow Ethica to share participants' attributes between other participants check Share attributes specific to this study between participants. option here.
As detecting participants in proximity is a requirement in these scenarios, and this detection can only happen using Bluetooth stream, if you are checking this option, we assume you have selected Bluetooth data to be monitored as well. You can read more about context analyzers and how this option can be used in practice in Automatically Triggered Surveys section.
As the last option, you can also specify a background for your study to give a custom look and feel to the study. By default Ethica shows the abstract background shown above in the app, though you can customize it, as it's shown in the image below.
At this point, pressing Create Study will create a new study based on the specifications we provided, and takes you to the overview page of the study.