Back in April 2013, a post in RDR talked about the “daunting job of conducting a content analysis that reveals how people think [the “stream of consciousness”] while at the same time Criminal-Case-Crime-Scene-Living-Room-Case-5answers the research question and takes the sponsoring client to the next step.” The post outlines the basic steps in a content analysis, including the analysis and interpretation phases of the process. Making interpretations from a content analysis are tricky things, esp., when conducting a “primary content analysis” when the content being analyzed is derived from non-research-related, pre-existing sources such as newspapers, blog posts, Hollywood films, YouTube videos, television broadcasts, and the like. The issue here is the “trap” content analysts can fall into by (a) thinking there are causal relationships in the data when there are not, and/or (b) trying to build a story in the shape of their interpretations when the story (based on the data) has little merit. In this way, an overabundance of subjectivity can creep into the qualitative content analysis method.

These traps, related to causality and storytelling, are fairly easy to fall into unless a systematic and conscientious approach is taken in the analysis and interpretation phases. In particular, Read Full Text

Researchers know that “good” survey questionnaire design begins with a preliminary qualitative research phase that serves to expose the nuances of the research touchtopic or category – such as the most pertinent issues and the relevant concerns or “issues within the issues” – along with the manner by which the target population talks about these issues – that is, the particular words, expressions, and terminology used by the target group. In this way, the survey researcher can hope to create user-friendly survey questions that speak to respondents rather than at respondents.

A preliminary qualitative phase is good and necessary, but employing the talents of a qualitative researcher during survey question development is an equally-important step. Qualitative researchers spend much of their lives listening to people talk about a host of attitudinal and behavioral issues, listening to the use of language, and using these conversations to interpret Read Full Text

Qualitative research is not any one thing. It is clearly not any one method but it is also not any one technique or process. Much of the diversity in how and in what manner qualitative research Many facesis utilized can be attributed to the researcher’s particular discipline or field of study. This is because each area of study brings with it its own set of priorities and concerns that mandate a particular qualitative approach. Importantly, this provides an opportunity for all qualitative researchers to extend their reach to learn from other researchers both within and outside their own disciplines. By broadening their boundaries and world view of what constitutes qualitative research, researchers can make better – more informed – choices in the development and implementation of their research designs.

Here are just a few examples of how the qualitative-research focus can vary across Read Full Text

With a lot of discussion about new methods of observation among qualitative researchers – in-the-moment mobile research and the like – it is terrific to witness an increasing appreciation of broader contexts. This perspective embraces the idea thatcomplexity of context individual behavior and thought are not so easily and singularly confined to any one moment in time. One could argue that it is because of this new-found obsession with observation that many researchers have come to discover – as if for the first time – the essential role that context plays in our qualitative studies. In this way, observational research – a method often bypassed for focus groups and other qualitative methods in the past – has led the research community into what is becoming a growing and healthy dialogue concerning the contextual nature of being human. Here are just four contributors to the dialogue that have recently come my attention:

An interview with Christian Madsbjerg at ReD Associates appears in the September issue of Marketing News“What it Means to be Human” by Elisabeth A. Sullivan. In it, Madsbjerg asserts that “people are different from the way that we research them,” emphasizing the point that “the respondent is not a person” but rather “an ecology of people, a culture of people” Read Full Text

For most of us, it is important to write a final research report that goes beyond the questions we asked and the responses we received. Unlike a topline debriefing that may require a simple rundown of the questions and responses, our qualitative and quantitative studies typically Pop-tartsculminate in write-ups that provide thoughtful discussions of our analyses and interpretations of the data.

The consumers of our research reports take it on blind faith that the data along with the corresponding questions and issues are reported accurately, and that the researchers’ interpretations of the findings are consistent with both the data and the questions asked or issues raised.   And yet blind faith is not always enough. Those are the times when a closer look at what the research actually asked and what is actually reported is needed.

One example is a July 2014 report from Gallup on its research concerning Americans’ consumption habits. The report, in part, shows that nearly all (more than 90%) Read Full Text

On August 5th Vision Critical held a webinar titled, “How NASCAR Increases Fan Engagement and Drives Business Decisions” where Brian Moyer discussed the NASCAR Fan Council, its online community of more than 10,000 NASCAR fans. YOCIn his presentation, he talked about the camaraderie feel of the community and the efforts they take to create an atmosphere in which fans believe they are “talking directly to NASCAR.” So strong is this community atmosphere that fans actually challenge whether Moyer and his team are hearing what fans have to say and wonder if NASCAR is internalizing their comments for a greater good. One fan asked, “How do I know you are listening?”

What a great question. To NASCAR’s credit, they make a habit of providing one-on-one feedback to their community members and did so in response to the are-you-listening question. But how well do researchers of any kind pay attention to this all-important facet of research design? Where in our research designs Read Full Text

Conducting qualitative research by way of a mobile device presents the researcher with unique challenges in terms of how to design a mobile study that results in valid outcomes. wifiThere are, however, a number of quality measures that researchers can build into their qualitative mobile studies that will serve to elevate their research designs and bring added confidence to the final results. The following are just a few quality considerations that qualitative researchers should think about and incorporate throughout the mobile research process. This list simply highlights a few design aspects related to mobile research and in no way supersedes the additional quality features (discussed throughout this blog) that should be part of any qualitative research design.

These design aspects are discussed from the perspective of the Total Quality Framework* which is comprised of four components – Credibility, Analyzability, Transparency, and Usefulness. In essence, the framework is based on the idea that all qualitative research Read Full Text

Too often qualitative researchers present their findings with an assertion along the lines of, ‘We conducted 25 focus groups with a total of 250 participants making this study more quantitative than qualitative’; or ‘We conducted 10 online bulletin boards with 15 participants in each divided between males and females, so we wound up with good quantitative apples-and-orangesdata’; or ‘We planned on conducting 30 qualitative in-depth interviews (IDIs) but extended the research to include 100 interviews so that we can quantify the results.’ Unfortunately, comments like these reflect a misguided attempt to equate apples with oranges – lumping them both into the category of “fruit” although their essence – the properties that characterize them – are radically different.

Conducting a lot of qualitative research does not transform it into a quantitative study. To say otherwise, assumes that the only distinguishing factor between a qualitative and quantitative research design is the number of participants or respondents who contribute to the research outcomes. This way of thinking would deem Read Full Text

The idea of conducting qualitative “research” by way of simply listening in on conversations posted on various social media venues is, from a research design perspective, curious. It is curious Conversationbecause the business of understanding how people think (i.e., the business of marketing and social research) has never been about just hearing them talk, reading their words, and/or observing their behavior. While capturing this information may prove interesting and in some circumstances useful (e.g., counting the number of mentions of a competitive brand or variations in reactions to a new product introduction), it is not good enough when the intent is to learn about underlying perceptions and motivations.

This issue is discussed throughout Research Design Review but most notably in a September 2011 post where the distinction is made between social media monitoring and Read Full Text

Greg Allenby, marketing chair at Ohio State’s business school, published an article in the May/June issue of Marketing Insights on heterogeneity or, more specifically, on the idea that 1) accounting for individual differences is essential to understanding Conundrumthe “why” and “how” that lurks within research data and 2) research designs often mask these differences by neglecting the relative nature of the constructs under investigation. For instance, research concerning preference or satisfaction is useful to the extent it helps explain why and how people think differently as it relates to their preferences or levels of satisfaction, yet these are inherently relative constructs that only hold meaning if the researcher understands the standard (the “point of reference”) by which the current question of preference or satisfaction is being weighed – i.e., my preference (or satisfaction) compared to…what? Since the survey researcher is rarely if ever clued-in on respondents’ points of reference, it would be inaccurate to make direct comparisons such as stating that someone’s product preference is two times greater compared to someone else’s.

The embedded “relativeness” associated with responding to constructs such as preference and satisfaction is just one of the pesky problems inherent in designing this type of research. A related but different problem revolves around the personal interpretation given Read Full Text

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