Loughborough University
Using a smartphone app_revisied_FINAL_Repository_31_5_2015.pdf (849.6 kB)

Using a smartphone ‘app’ in qualitative research: the good, the bad and the ugly

Download (849.6 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2015-07-28, 13:35 authored by Borja Garcia-GarciaBorja Garcia-Garcia, Joanna Welford, Brett M. Smith
This paper reflects on the use of a smartphone application (‘app’) in qualitative research following the experience of the FREE (Football Research in an Enlarged Europe) project, which investigated the lives of football fans in the UK. To meet this aim, a participant-focused audio-visual methodology was designed, featuring the use of an app to collect data. Fans were asked to take photographs and keep diaries to show the role football plays in their lives. The smartphone app was developed to allow fans to use their own mobile phones, capturing qualitative data in ‘real time’. The paper reflects on our experience of using the smartphone app in this qualitative research, analysing the advantages, disadvantages and the main risks that researchers will need to take into account when using smartphone apps in their future qualitative research projects. We encourage others to build on and advance this under-researched but potentially valuable tool.


This research presented in this article was supported by the European Commission’s 7th European Framework Programme for Research (FP7) [grant agreement 290805].



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Qualitative Research


GARCIA, B., WELFORD, J. and SMITH, B.M., 2016. Using a smartphone ‘app’ in qualitative research: the good, the bad and the ugly. Qualitative Research, 16(5) pp. 508–525.


SAGE Publications


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Qualitative Research and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468794115593335




  • en