It’s a great time to be a qualitative research professional. With broadband and smartphone connectivity getting closer and closer to absolute ubiquity, and technology solutions rapidly emerging, the arsenal of weapons available to facilitate qualitative research online and via mobile devices is ever-expanding. However, getting these studies off the ground and finding qualified/capable participants is also becoming increasingly more complicated.
When it comes to launching an online qualitative research project, identifying your target audience and choosing your desired platform are the easy parts. However, if you don’t factor in the other logistical pitfalls that may come up during your study, a seemingly easy project can become a bit of a nightmare. Elements to consider during the setup and recruitment of your online qual study include:
· Requirements for platform access. Each online qualitative research platform that’s available to you has its own architecture and (perhaps) its own limitations for access. Certain platforms are only optimized for certain browsers, operating systems, or devices. Knowing these platform requirements (and limitations) beforehand, you can save yourself a ton of headaches and recruit only audience members who already have these features in place. Accelerant always recommends a Tech-Check as an added step during the recruiting process, where we essentially take participants through a dress rehearsal with the platform, prior to live interviews taking place. As a moderator, the last thing you want is to spend the first ten minutes of an interview playing the role of tech support to a participant who doesn’t have the right app downloaded or system/software update.
· To group or not to group? Qualitative platforms don’t always make this choice evident or obvious, so it’s important to understand whether participants will be able to see one another’s content. Groupthink and bias can be introduced by other participants and are very real phenomenon online. Similar to in person research, a study’s moderator should be sure that your audience is responding in the manner intended.
· What’s the observer’s user experience? While much of the emphasis in this article is on the participant, it’s important that you don’t overlook the client, since they’re the ones ultimately using these insights (and paying the bill). When vetting platforms for your upcoming research study, you should always understand what the experience will be like for your observers. For example, many large client organizations have IT rules in place that prevent or restrict access to certain sites or app downloads. There’s nothing worse than discovering just before an elegant, highly-anticipated study goes live that the end client can’t access the research platform because the host site is not on the corporate IT whitelist.
As pioneers in online qualitative research, Accelerant Research is keenly aware of what factors will make for successful project setup and participant recruitment (i.e., we sweat the details). We invite you to request a cost estimate from us as a first step and experience the difference that we provide for yourself. Simply give us a call (704-206-8500) or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).