Research participation

Firstly, we will just install an app on your smartphone. Data collected through this app will be helping us define and refine our projects. Later in time, we will invite you occasionally to our lab for different experiments and we expect that you cooperate in that. It is also important for you to note that, as we discuss more in the ‘Data Collection’ section (below), every human subject experiment you participate in is approved by the ethics committee and will require an approval from you.

Starting the study

  • You will need to use your smartphone as your primary phone: This is the most basic level of participation we expect from you because our goal of living lab depends on this model of usage.
  • Your participation will be largely transparent: Most of the time at the beginning of your participation, you will just need to use your smartphone.
  • A few times a year, we will communicate with you through email for
    important updates related to our operation: Some of these updates might require you to respond and react accordingly (e.g., install a new application, reboot your phone or connect to WiFi for synchronization), but we will keep this to minimum.
  • We also ask for your feedback: Your opinions, experiences and expectations matter for our future research directions. We listen.
  • We will be pushing out software updates regularly to your smartphone: This is an automatic process, but will need your confirmation by asking you to touch a button `Agree` displayed on your phone (we will always provide detailed instructions for any update). If you confirm, then the phone will update the software automatically. The whole process will take around a minute of your time.
  • For rare occasions when your phone behaves erroneously: We will provide instructions on how to restart or reset your phone (by email). In the worst case, you may have to come to our lab so we can fix it. However, we are going to internally test our updates thoroughly, and we do not anticipate such problems to occur.

Experiments

There are three types of experiments we will conduct, which differ in the level of participation.

Background experiments

We will conduct research experiments that do not require any attention from you. This is why we call them background experiments. One example in this category is the network performance measurement study, where we collect performance information from your phone for WiFi, 3G, and 4G networks of your operator. As you can imagine, this information gathering does not require your attention, and your participation is transparent – just using your smartphone normally as your primary phone.

Interactive experiments

We will also conduct research experiments that require you to actually use an application. This will involve downloading an app and using it regularly while the experiment is taking place. Your participation should involve:

  • Downloading an app (we will instruct you how) and installing it and following the instructions on how to participate in the experiment.
  • Or visiting the mQoL lab, where experiment and participation details will be explained to you.
  • Participating in the study while using the smartphone as usual.
  • Giving feedback to the QoL team via face to face interviews or email (depending on what is requested).

Some interactive apps might just ask you to participate in a survey or visit a website; other apps might ask you to perform some specific tasks. Since these interactive experiments require your time and attention, we will limit this type of participation to a few hours a month.

Participant responsibilities and expectations

Since the operation of mQoL is part of our research study, we would like to communicate with you clearly about what your responsibilities and our expectations are.

  • The above participation is required: If for some reason you do not participate, we will communicate with you to reach an agreement, which may result in temporarily stopping your study participation and getting your smartphone returned back to us.
  • The smartphone should be your primary phone: Please be aware that this is critical for our study because one of our goals is a realistic, living lab environment. If you plan to switch between multiple phones, then you are unfortunately not qualified for our research participation.
  • The phone should not be flashed with a custom ‘ROM’: This is also critical for our study as we need to keep the same platform for every smartphone. Although Android OS phones allow installing custom OSes called ‘ROM’s, it is not allowed on our smartphones. If you own a smartphone, with which you participate in the study and you have a custom ‘ROM’, please be let us know.
  • You are expected to participate for at least one year, and ideally for more years: The reason why we offer new smartphones for free is because we would like you to participate for a long period of time. As we explain above, you have an option to leave; however, our basic expectation is for you to stay as a participant for one or more years. It is going to be fun!