Field research among geographically dispersed communities is time-consuming and costly. When people are stigmatised, field research has additional ethical and logistical problems. In many countries lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are both geographically dispersed and stigmatised. Online research methods and tools are therefore particularly interesting instruments for researchers and activists who work with LGBT communities.
In countries where same-sex relations are criminal, such as in the Middle East and North Africa region, online communities can be the only way for LGBT people to relate to peers (ILGA 2014). Even in countries where access to social media and publishing on the internet is legally restricted, LGBT people have large online communities (Oosterhoff, Hoang and Quach 2014).
This methodology brief outlines the main steps and considerations for choosing research methods and data visualisation among LGBT individuals in resource-poor settings. Although this report focuses on LGBT, online data collection and data visualisation have broader relevance for thinktanks, whose targeted audiences increasingly function in complex digital environments.