Five Factors in the Recruiting Process Adds to the Quality Scheme for Qualitative Research

May 27, 2012

A Research Design Review post in February 2011 talked about the “13 Factors Impacting the Quality of Qualitative Research.”  This post laments the lack of “tested dimensions we can use to compare one qualitative study from another” and endorses a quality-framework approach rooted in the idea that the usefulness of our qualitative research rests with key design components.  This post goes on to delineate 13 factors across three domains of the research process: the environment, the dynamics, and the interviewer/moderator.

These 13 factors represented a first start towards thinking about qualitative research design within a quality framework.  This thinking will evolve over time, with additions and subtractions made as warranted.  One such needed adjustment is in the critical yet missing area of participant recruitment.  This omission was rightly pointed out in a recent comment to the blog by Andrea Lombardi, a qualitative research consultant in Milan.  As Andrea states, “…recruitment quality [is a] main factor for a good quality FG/IDI…”  In appreciation of the important role that the recruiting process plays in the ultimate utility and effectiveness of our qualitative research, here is an amended – what is now 18-factor – classification scheme incorporating five factors specific to the recruiting process:

18 Factors Impacting the Quality of Qualitative Research

The Recruiting Process

Potential variability associated with the:

  • Group composition (e.g., level of demographic and product-use diversity)
  • Sample frame & sampling
  • Design of screener questions & interview questionnaire overall
  • Recruitment interviewer (e.g., professionalism as well as gender, ethnicity, personality aspects)
  • Recruiting-process standards (e.g., call-back and confirmation protocols)

The Environment

Potential variability associated with the:

  • Particular venue/setting (incl., face-to-face and online)
  • Presence of observers/interviewers as well as other participants (e.g., groups vs. IDIs)
  • Audio & video recording

The Dynamics

Potential variability associated with:

  • Professional participants (“cheaters”)
  • Participants’ cultural/social/economic/gender/age diversity
  • Cognitive processes/constructs
  • Geographic/regional differences
  • Dominators, group vs. individual think

The Interviewer/Moderator

Potential variability associated with the:

  • Personal/personality aspects of the interviewer/moderator
  • “Best” techniques utilized for specific topics, type of participants, venue
  • Question formatting
  • Question sequencing
  • Use of projective techniques (e.g., what to use when, impact on the discussion overall, analytical schemes)

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