Create a New Study

A study is the main building block in Ethica. As a researcher, you need to create a study for any data collection, whether a short one-time survey, or a longitudinal multi-phase project, or an open-ended panel. Here we go through the steps to create a new study.

You start by going to your Ethica Researcher Dashboard. If you don't have an account, you can simply sign up in Ethica as a researcher, and you will be taken to the researcher dashboard, as shown below:

Ethica Researcher Dashboard without any Study

At first, you don't have any study, and you only see a few sample studies in your Researcher Dashboard. Click on the Create Study link on the top of the left menu to start creating a new study. This will take you to the Start a New Study page.

Ethica New Study Description Page

Here you will specify the configuration and settings of your study. Below we will go through all of them and create a new study. You will have the option to modify any of these settings later on as well.

First, you need to pick a Name for your study. This name will be used throughout Ethica to identify your study, both for all your colleagues who will have access to this study, and all participants who will participate in your study. You also need to write a brief Consent Form for the study. This will be shown to the participants, and they will need to read through it and implicitly agree to its content before they can join your study. Participants will also have access to this description throughout their participation in your study. You can read more about study consent in this section.

In the last field of this page, Institution, you need to specify the name of the organization who is conducting this study. By default, this will be the organization or university you are affiliated with. Though if you prefer to choose a different name, you can enter it here.

Enrollment Timeline

In the second step, Enrollment, you will configure who can participate in your study, and how long each participation will take.

Ethica New Study Enrollment Page

The first question asks about the Study Period. Here you will specify when the study starts and when it ends. This period defines the entire time you expect to be in the field, enrolling participants, and collecting data. Participants can join your study prior to the start date, but they will remain inactive until the start date. No one can join your study after the end date.

The second question asks how many days each participant is expected to be part of the study. This can be anything from 1 day to maximum number of days between the study's start and end time.

The third question asks about your Target Sample Size. You can enter 0 if you are unsure. If you enter a number here, Ethica will provide some statistics on how far you are from reaching your target enrollment count. Note that you can enroll more than the number you enter here, or finish the study with fewer enrollments. Setting this number will not interfere in any form with your eventual sample size.

Examples of Different Enrollment Strategies

While the Enrollment settings might appear to be simple, they are very powerful and important in how Ethica manages the data collection from each participant. We encourage you to read the Reference Documentation on Enrollment for more detail. At the same time, here we provide a few example to help better understanding this section.

Example 1: Single Cohort

Assume you are teaching a course, CMPT 880, and for the next term, you want to run a study on all class students. The class starts on Sept. 1st, 2019, and ends on Dec. 28th, 2019. But you want any participant to join the study as they register in the class.

To do so, you set the Study Period to Sept. 1, 2019 to Dec. 28, 2019. You will also set the Participation Duration to be the same as the study. So your setting will look like this:

Ethica New Study Enrollment Single Cohort Example

This way, when a participant joins the study on any date before Sept. 1st, say for example on Aug. 14th, Ethica will set their study participation from Sept. 1st to Dec. 28th. No data will be collected nor any surveys will be asked by Ethica before or after this period.

Now if a student registers in the class after Sept. 1st, say on Sept. 12th, and registers in your study on that date as well, Ethica will set her (and only her) start date to the later date, but her participation last date will be still on Dec. 28th. So your participation dates will look like this:

Participant ID Start Date End Date
Participant #1 Sept. 1st Dec. 28th
Participant #2 Sept. 1st Dec. 28th
... Sept. 1st Dec. 28th
Participant #N
(Late Registration)
Sept. 12th Dec. 28th

Example 2: Rolling Enrollment

Assume you are conducting a study where you want to enroll 50 participants, and you expect each participant to be part of the study for 2 weeks. You plan to invite participants to the lab for an onboarding session, where they will install Ethica app and register in your study as well. So each participant will join at a different date and time. In this case, the study will start today, and will not have a specific end date, as it will end when you enroll the 50th participant.

To configure your study for this scenario, you will set the Study Period to start today and be Open-Ended. You will also set the Participation Duration to 14. So the settings will look like this:

Ethica New Study Rolling Enrollment Example

This way, you can enroll participants at any time from now, and they will be part of the study for 14 days. For example, if you enroll the first participant on Friday March 1st, and the next one on the following Tuesday, and another one on the Thursday, the participation period for each of them will be based on the following table:

Participant ID Start Date End Date
Participant #1 Mar. 1st Mar. 15th
Participant #2 Mar. 5th Mar. 19th
Participant #3 Mar. 7th Mar. 21st

It's important to note that while here we only show dates, participation period for each participant in Ethica includes both date and time. The time will be set as the time they press Register in the Ethica app to join your study. So when you set your study's Participation Duration to be 14 days, and a given participant joins on March 1, 2019, 10:32, they will be part of the study until March 15, 2019, 10:32.

That will give you 13 days and 2 half-days. If you want your participants to be part of your study for 14 full days, you need to set the Participation Duration to 15 days. This way, in the example above, the participant will be part of the study from March 1, 2019, 10:32 until March 16, 2019, 10:32, which will be 15 full days and 2 half days.

Enrollment Type

The next option in the Enrollment page specifies who can join your study. You can set your study to be Public, which means any individual can join your study, assuming they know your study registration code (a 3- to 5-digit number).

Ethica New Study Enrollment Type

You may also set your study to be Invitation-based. This instructs Ethica to only accept participants who have an invitation to the study. This way, you can control who is permitted to join your study.

Note that in the Public study you also can invite participants to join your study, just like the Invitation-based case. The only difference is that if you choose Public, anyone else can also join, while if you choose Invitation-based, only those with an invitation can join.

The last option is Closed, which instructs Ethica not to allow any new registration. This can be helpful while you are testing your study and you don't want others to join, or you already have reached your desired sample size.

Data Sources

In the third step, you choose the type of data you want to collect from each participant. Ethica supports a wide range of data sources which you can choose from. When a participant joins your study, Ethica app performs the required steps to configure the participant's device to upload the necessary data.

Ethica New Study Add A Data Source

For each data source, you can set it to be Mandatory or not (i.e., optional). If a data source is set to be optional, the Ethica app provides the participant with options to opt-out from providing this data at any time. A mandatory data source requires a participant to provide the requested data as part of their participation in the study. Keep in mind, participants can always drop out of your study, or revoke the permission for accessing the data source. For example, for the GPS data source, they can revoke location permission on their phone, or turn off GPS.

Each data source listed here has many details to consider before adding them to your study. For example:

  • Some data sources are available on Android only, while some others are available on both Android and iOS.
  • Some data sources are collected from smartphones, such as app usage statistics, while others are collected from the participant's online account, such as data from their Google Fit account.
  • Some data sources require an additional hardward or software to be installed on participant's phone, such as Bluetooth beacons, while some others work out of the box, for example, GPS.
  • Some data sources have negligible impact on participant's phone battery, like Screen State, while others are more resource intensive, for example, Accelerometer.

It's important to read Ethica's Reference Documentation about the data sources you plan to use.

One special data source which we will discuss in depth is Survey Responses. This data sources allows you to ask survey questions from participants in your study. So don't forget to include it if you are planning to ask any sort of survey questions during the study.

Additional Configuration

In the last step, you can adjust a few additional settings of your study. The first option, Allow dropout through the app, specifies whether you want to allow participants to drop out of your study via the app or not. Participants can uninstall the Ethica app from their device at any time to stop their participants. Having this option instructs Ethica to allow this from the app's user interface. This has two benefits:

  • You can configure surveys to be asked when the participant decided to drop out of the study, in order to capture their experience.
  • Ethica will mark the participant as Dropped across the Researcher Dashboard, which helps distinguishing them from those with low compliance.

The second option, Default to Upload via Wi-Fi only, allows you to choose Ethica's default data upload behavior. If you are planning to collect considerable sensor-based data, and you will not reimburse participants for their data plan cost, you may want to set Ethica to upload via Wi-Fi only by default. Regardless of whether you check or uncheck this option, participants can set their desired value from the app.

Note that survey responses will be uploaded via any available Internet connectivity, regardless of the study's default setting or participant's settings.

The last option, Study Background, allows you to customize the look and feel of the app for your study. The image you choose here will be used across Ethica app as the background. Make sure you choose an image with the right aspect ratio (ideally, 720 x 1280), to have a nice representation of it in the app.

Check out Your New Study

By clicking on the Create Study button at the end of the previous page, Ethica will setup your study as you have specified. It might take a bit time because Ethica will create a dedicated database for your study, and adjust it depending on the data sources you have chosen. When done, you will be taken to the study home page:

Home Page of a New Study in Ethica

In this page, you can adjust or modify any of the settings you have set while creating the study. You can also see that now your study has appeared on the left-side panel. There, the study has 4 menus:

  • Design: This will contain all the pages needed to setup your study.
  • Participation: This will contain pages related to participant invitation and their adherence monitoring.
  • Sensor Data: From here you can check out the sensor data collected from participants, or export your data in raw files.
  • Surveys: Here you can access survey responses and download them in different format.
  • Kibana: This takes you to Ethica's integration with Kibana data visualization tool for more in-depth analysis.

We will talk about each of these sections in depth throughout the site. As a convention, we refer to them as Section Name -> Sub-section Name, e.g. Design -> Basics. Feel free to check them out before continuing.