InfoSec Seminar: Research tools for remote user studies within UCL ISRG

Speaker: Steve Dodier-Lazaro

Date/Time: 13-Aug-2015, 15:00 UTC

Venue: Roberts 309

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Abstract


This talk presents the websites we have developed in the group, and should be interesting to those in the group who perform research with remote participants (whether user surveys, in-the-wild data collection studies, remote experiments or interview scheduling). We currently have two code bases that perform a number of functions, and that can be extended and customised for other studies. The goal of our presentation is to build a complete inventory of the needs of the team, and of the stuff we've already developed, so we can ultimately share a single code base for our studies and cut down on development and administration costs. Both current sites are based on the Symfony framework, which automates tasks like encryption, authentication token management, localisation, error reporting, database administration, etc.
The first website is a generic template for remote study websites. It lets you define the structure of a study in terms of parts and steps, and comes with pre-coded steps like participant screening, consent collection, installation instructions, information sheet displaying and comes with an app API to upload data (used by a Chrome extension and a Qt app). The website is under development and requires basic PHP/MySQL skills to be used, though an admin UI could be added eventually. On my last study, I've cut down development costs to a mere 10 hours to deploy a working website. The second website is used in the Productive Security project, and specialises in interview scheduling. It was developed last year by our intern Clement, and it allows researchers to specify a number of locations and available interviewers, so that participants can pick a time and location to be interviewed. This part comes with a full UI and doesn't require any programming skills to be used.
I have a long term plan to merge both websites and develop scripts to assist with website deployment. If you're planning on doing research that involves remote participants and a Web platform, please consider collaborating with me to integrate your own work into the existing software so we can further simplify study management in the future.

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