The research industry has become more advanced with the addition of computer-assisted research applications. These systems allow researchers to gather, store, and analyze research data effectively. Several types of computer-assisted research modules are commonly in use by research firms, medical facilities, and educational institutes. These include computer-aided telephone interviewing (CATI) and computerized systems that record and store data from live research groups. Internet-based research such as surveys, forums, and webinars may also be considered computer-assisted research tools.
The most common type of computer-assisted research takes place on the Internet. Web-based applications allow researchers to contact a large candidate base from which to do further research on behaviors, attitudes, values, and experiences of people around the world. Web forms, informational surveys, webinars, and online forums can be used to collect this data. The Internet has become an integral part of research for companies.
Another type of computer-assisted research is traditional telephone research combined with a computer-aided system. This is commonly called a CATI system. The CATI system allows telephone researchers to read computer-guided scripts to candidates and record this information in a central database. This information can vary from basic demographics to detailed notes taken by researchers while engaged in live telephone interviews.
Computer-assisted research also uses closed-circuit cameras and digital recording devices to automatically record and document information gathered in a research group setting. Instead of requiring a live person to take notes of what research participants say, the computer-assisted research system records this information in a non-intrusive manner, allowing researchers to use this information for reports and data analysis. The recorded facial expressions and behavior of participants can also shed light on how people react to certain stimuli in a research setting.
The benefits of computer-assisted research applications include the ability to keep a permanent record of research activities for future studies, the more accurate documentation of information, the ease of retrieving information from a central database, and the ability to research a wider market than in the past. While not all research agencies use computer-assisted research software, many are combining traditional research methods with modern technology to produce more accurate studies.