Like probably all empirical research projects that were right in the middle of everything, the DigitAS team was taken by surprise when the COVID-19 pandemic led to a complete shutdown of the social and economic life in Austria in mid-March 2020. Our data collection that was scheduled for spring 2020 in both Innsbruck and Vienna had to be put on immediate hold until further notice. Even though the lockdown has now been lifted, it is hard to estimate what will actually work in terms of empirical social science in the coming weeks and months, as social distancing measures remain in place.
With regard to the DigitAS research design, not only do we need to move freely in as well as between our research sites, the Rapoldipark in Innsbruck and the Venediger Au-Park in Vienna. What is even more, is that to successfully conduct our study, we need to be able to get close to our research participants, e.g., to set up the mobile eye-tracker on a participant’s head, to check its functionality, to explain and assist in the use of the mobile media device. For the safety of our participants’ and our own, we are therefore currently planning on conducting our field research as soon but also no earlier than safety restrictions will be lifted sufficiently.
Even though the uncertainty surrounding the further development of COVID-19-pandemic, a potential second wave of infections and the need for the infamous emergency brake of accompanying security measures, makes it hard to make plans for the near future, we are continuing the methodological development and are cautiously scheduling data collection for summer or early fall 2020.
The DigitAS team