Choosing technologies

Once you are clear about the aims and needs of your research project, the next stage is to decide which technologies to use.

Technology Table

We have created a Technology Table to help you with this:

Some issues to consider when choosing technologies for your research:

  • The technical aspects of the context(s) in which your research is taking place. For example, at the time of writing, in the UK, many schools and local authorities have firewalls that prevent access to lots of websites and social media.
  • The ethics of the organisations behind the technologies, and how these fit with your own values. For example, with software, are you happy to use commercial products or would you prefer to support open source platforms?
  • The functionality and quality of the product. Online review sites can be helpful. Some of these are listed below.
  • Cost. Consider the pros and cons of free versus paid for services and software. Free services often have limitations such as restricted quantities of storage space, advertising or limited features. These may or may not be a problem, depending on your needs.
  • Provisions for privacy. What level of privacy do you require, and what technologies will help you to achieve that? e.g. secure servers, password protection, moderation.
  • Provisions for copyright and licensing. Do you or your participants want to retain the copyright on your work, or to distribute it using Creative Commons licenses ? If so, you’ll need to choose platforms that support these things.
  • Compatibility between different technologies. For example, many mobile devices do not support Adobe Flash. So if you want people to be able to access your research using mobiles, it’s best to avoid using online platforms that depend on Flash.

These considerations may require some background research. Technology companies tend not to advertise the limitations of their products. Look at the ‘small print’ – such as terms and conditions, system requirements and FAQ pages – and seek advice from independent sources.


The following technology review sites may be helpful:

CNET reviews - Detailed reviews of digital media hardware: mobile phones, cameras, camcorders, laptops, tablet PCs and TVs.

TechRadar reviews - A popular site with news and reviews of computers, mobile phones and other digital devices.

TrustedReviews - Wide ranging reviews site covering hardware (cameras, mobiles, computers, etc.) and computer software.

PC Pro - Reviews site covering computer hardware, software and peripherals.

Freeware Genius - Website covering free software of all kinds.

What Digital Camera - Reviews site covering digital cameras and associated devices (camera bags, printers, scanners, tripods, photo software, etc.)

Sound On Sound - Leading music technology magazine. Website contains an archive of high quality reviews for audio hardware and software.

Lifehacker - Not exactly a review site, more a blog about software and time-saving tips.

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“Using digital media in research shouldn’t be ethically vastly different to everyday research.”
Susan Elsley, University of Edinburgh