Nadika N

Nadika N

@nadikanadja

Bhavani Seetharaman

Bhavani Seetharaman

@Bhavani-21

Anish TP

Anish TP

@anishtp

Research methods, design, sampling and execution

Submitted Sep 22, 2021

This is a mixed-method research study, comprising both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Qualitative research was conducted in two phases with the first phase concluded in May 2021 and the second phase concluded in July 2021. Qualitative research primarily undertaken during May-June 2021, measured awareness, sentiments and opinions about the IT Rules among industry leaders and representatives from the SSMI and Digital News sectors, and helped inform the design of the quantitative survey.

An interim report was produced from the findings of Phase I. This report was shared with MEITY and parliamentarians when the IT Rules came into effect in May 2021. This report is published at IT Rules 2021 Interim Report.

The research team conducted a total of 17 structured and semi-structured interviews, and round table discussions with over 30 participants. Interviewees were shortlisted by criteria such as domain diversity, scale of operations of the startups, and gender diversity. The research team reached out to interviewees with background materials including an interview questionnaire. A short primer covering the salient points of the IT Rules, and links to media reports so that participants were better informed about IT Rules ahead of the interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). An ethical undertaking, detailing the information that will be sought, explanation of the data retention and deletion policies, and informed consent form was also shared with participants before the interviews and FGDs.

The quantitative survey - aimed at tech workers in the Indian IT ecosystem - followed. This survey measured awareness, understanding and impact of the IT Rules. The survey had to be administered online due to the second wave of COVID-19 in India. This placed limitations on the length, type, and structure of the survey.

The research team drafted three versions of the questionnaire, based on insights drawn from qualitative interviews, existing knowledge and inputs from experts. The questionnaires - of different lengths and types of questions - were tested extensively to assess time taken to complete, likelihood of abandonment and comprehension i.e. differing levels of awareness about the IT Rules.

The questionnaire was fine tuned based on feedback from the tests, and resulted in a Survey Monkey form comprising 34 questions, with an average completion time of 8 minutes. The form - with multiple choice questions, Likert scales and open-ended questions - was also tested for accessibility on various devices. In the end, the team chose to drop open-ended questions to increase ease of use and accessibility, and to reduce the possibilities of abandonment and survey fatigue. While the lack of open-ended questions might limit quantitative responses , the FGDs and roundtables provided enough anecdotal data for a rounded view of the data.

The quantitative survey was distributed to potential respondents drawn from personal and professional networks. Survey links were sent to them via:

  1. Targeted emails with links to the Survey
  2. Promotion of links via Social Media outreach
  3. Engagement with tech worker groups across the country.

Privacy Mode also hosted a talk, explaining the impact of IT Rules on open source communities, with the PyDelhi Community 1 in June 2021. Survey links were distributed after the session.

Given this three-pronged approach, we believe that the sampling has been randomized to a considerable degree and is an improvement over the convenient sampling initially planned. Despite these efforts, there is a skew in respondent selection. Majority of the respondents identified as male and were predominantly from urban areas . A large number of respondents worked on coding as against other tasks such as documentation and design. However, as the sector is concentrated in large metro cities and has historically been dominated by men, we believe that the data represents the sector and is a reflection of the current level of skill sets and concerns. .

The survey received a total of 203 responses between June and July 2021.

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