October 19, 2018



Benefits and Limitations of Online Research

In this blog, some of the benefits and limitations of online research will be addressed. FaceReader Online is based on the desktop version of FaceReader. In some cases you might want to invite participants to the controllable surroundings of your lab or office, but doing online research also has its benefits. This blog can help you choose the right solution for your study.

Easily include participants from all over the world

FaceReader Online allows testing to occur at home or other settings (for example, a restaurant, school, office, etc.). These more natural environments can elicit a more ‘real’ emotional response. It also makes it possible to reach a very broad and diverse audience, for example in different cities or countries and non-student populations. This will make your research either more generalizable to a wide population or allow you to test a specific sub-population which is otherwise difficult to reach. For example, most on-site lab tests operate in normal business working hours, e.g. 9-17, while large segments of the population can only attend such tests outside these hours.

When you do not have to invite participants to your lab/office, it becomes easier to get large numbers of participants. There is (practically) no limitation as how many people can be tested at the same time, which significantly speeds up data collection. It is more cost-effective, since your participants will spend less time on the study and you do not have to pay for travel expenses. FaceReader Online can also be ideal for testing your material before you run a lab study.

Limitations of online research

There are also some limitations when doing online research. The quality of the recordings could be lower, due to bad lighting or low quality cameras. You do not control the setting in which the data is collected, so camera position could be suboptimal. Therefore, it is important to instruct your participants well (see tips in this blog). It is however likely that you will have to exclude more participants than in a lab study, but with the lower costs, you can easily compensate for the loss of participants by collecting more data. Therefore, with appropriate preparations in advance, you can create an equally reliable study with online data collection.

Currently you can easily use FaceReader Online when measuring reactions towards video stimuli, a question (see for example this study) or while visiting a website. In some cases, if you have a more complex research design, you may be better of using the desktop version of FaceReader. In addition, a labsetting is more suitable for measuring very brief emotional expressions (because of quality and frame rate).

Pricing model

With FaceReader you purchase a license to use the software, this is a single investment and then you can use it as much as you want. FaceReader Online is based on a credit system where you pay per minute; it can easily be used for a single project, for example, when you are uncertain how much you will use it, or are only interested in using it in one project. If you intend to use it regularly, we offer several favorable subscriptions. If you already have the desktop version of FaceReader, you can also use FaceReader Online to collect data via the internet and then export your project into FaceReader for more advanced analysis (e.g. Action Unit analysis). See for example, this project that used a combination of FaceReader and FaceReader Online to develop a custom expression for engagement

Getting started

Do you want inspiration for the type of research you can do with FaceReader Online? Have a look at our case studies. This is also a nice report of a recent case study using music videos.

Are you ready to start doing facial expression analysis yourself? Just contact us for a trial account for FaceReader Online, or if you do not want to do online research, contact Noldus for more information regarding FaceReader.

Fast and easyLower quality data
Record in a natural environmentLess controllable environment
Reach a broad audienceSuitable for simpler studies
Low costs

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