Data Collection in Ethica can be divided into two broad categories: the first, called Activities, involves the data that participants provide by actively interacting with the Ethica app, such as responding to a survey or completing a cognitive task. The second, called Data Sources, involves the data that is automatically collected automatically without the participant being directly engaged in it, for example collecting GPS data and step count.

Data sources can refer to different sensors, such as GPS, or be in the form of digital footprint, such as screen time, or be collected from wearables such as Google Fit devices. The common attribute between all of them is that participants don’t have to actively engage in collecting this data. They provide the necessary permissions initially when they join the study, and the rest happens automatically.

In this section, we explain how you can view, add, or modify data sources in your Ethica Study. We also explain what data sources are available and what kind of data each of them collect.

Note that Ethica web-app does not support data sources. So if your participants use Ethica using the web-app, they will not be able to provide data for any of the data sources your study contains.

Accessing Data Sources

In order to access the list of data sources currently monitored as part of your study, go to the Researcher Dashboard and navigate to Data Sources page:

Accessing List of Data Sources for a Given Ethica Study

Here you can add or remove data sources from your study as the study requirements change. To add a new data source, click on the + New Data Source button. In the page that opens, you can see the list of all data sources Ethica supports. Scroll through the list and click on the data source you are interested in. This will take you to the page to enter some details about this data source:

Add a New Data Source Dialog

In this page, first you should specify whether providing this data source is mandatory for your study participants, or is optional? If a data source is marked as optional, Ethica app allows participants to opt out from this data source within the app. Note that in most cases, participants can simply revoke the necessary permissions for Ethica to collect the requested data source. In this case, this lack of necessary permission is reported via the Participant Audit Logs.

You also should choose a Label and a Description for your data source. These values will be shown to the participant to explain what is being collected and why. You may add more details on why your study collects certain data sources within the informed consent, but the description here can also help participants to better understand why a specific data source is needed for your study.

After completing these fields, press Add to create your new data source and set up its data table. You will then be taken back to the study’s Data Sources, where you can see the list of data sources in your study. If you click on the data source, you can see its configurations and a few options:

Information panel for a given data source

In this panel, pressing Export will take you to the Data Export page where you can export the data collected by this data source.

You can also press the Delete button and confirm your intent if you wanted to remove the data source from your study. This will stop collecting that data for your study immediately. If you want to delete the data for this data source as well, mark the Delete the data from the data source checkbox as checked. If for any reason you decided to delete the data after you deleted the data source with that checkbox left unchecked, please contact Ethica Support staff.

To edit a data source, simply press Edit and apply your modifications.

Common Data Fields

You can access the collected data either by exporting them via the Data Export page, or by directly querying them using Kibana. The data format is different based on the data source, for example, GPS data contains location coordinates, while Pedometer contains number of steps taken. Regardless, there are some common fields for each record of each data source that we explain below.

User ID:
The unique ID of the participant provided the data. Internally stored as user_id.

Device ID:
The unique ID of the smart-device provided the data. Internally stored as device_id.

Record Time:
The time this record was captured. Internally stored as record_time.

Relative Record Time:
The time this record was captured, relative to the participation period's start time, in milliseconds. For example, 3,600,000 indicates the record was captured 1 hour after the participant joined the study. Internally stored as rel_record_time.