ARC is an acronym for the ‘asynchronous remote community’ method. Essentially, it’s a method of qualitative analysis devised by Haley MacLeod et al. that is similar to focus groups, but takes advantage of an online platform to gather more rich data, and overcome physical barriers to participation. An ARC study takes place over a series of weeks throughout which participants are presented with “activities” (generally established human computer interactions (HCI) research methods).
Over the summer of 2017 I attended the ProHealth REU at Indiana University. Working under our grad mentor Fernando Maestre, and our faculty mentor Patrick Shih my research partner Julia Dunbar and I worked on applying the ARC method to a needs assessment study for people living with HIV. We bring two new novel things to ARC with this study: we evaluate the effectiveness of co-design activities for ARC, and we evaluate the effectiveness of ARC for conducting research with stigmatized groups. Though the REU only officially lasted through the summer, Julia and I have continued to work on this research.
So far we have published two papers from this study. The first, “ARC Method Blueprint“, was published in WISH at AMIA 2017. It focuses on providing a detailed guide for researchers wishing to conduct an ARC study. The second paper, Defining Through Expansion: “Conducting Asynchronous Remote Communities (ARC) Research with Stigmatized Groups“, was published in CHI 2018, and I had the opportunity to personally present this research at the conference. This paper focuses on analyzing the effectiveness of ARC for stigmatized groups, and moving forward towards a formal definition of the emerging method.