Researchers of all ilk care about bias and how it may creep into their research designs resulting in measurement error. This is true among quantitative researchers as well as among qualitative researchers who routinely demonstrate their sensitivity to potential bias in their data by way of building interviewer training, careful recruitment screening, and appropriate modes into their research designs. It is these types of measures that acknowledge qualitative researchers’ concerns about quality data; and yet, there are many other ways to mitigate bias in qualitative research that are often overlooked.
Marketing researchers (and marketing clients) in particular could benefit from thinking more deeply about bias and measurement error. In the interest of “faster, cheaper, better” research solutions, marketing researchers often lose sight of quality design issues, not the least of which concern bias and measurement error in the data. If marketing researchers care enough about mitigating bias to train interviewers/moderators, develop screening questions that effectively target the appropriate participant, and carefully select the suitable mode for the population segment, then it is sensible to adopt broader design standards that more fully embrace the collecting of quality data.
An example of a tool that serves to raise the design standard is the reflexive journal. The reflexive journal has been the subject (in whole or in part) of many articles in Research Design Review, most notably Read Full Text
Maybe attitude doesn’t matter. Maybe how people feel about any given topic or how they think through a decision about whether to act one way or another are irrelevant to research design. Maybe all that really matters is behavior. Maybe behavior is more important than attitudes because users of the research care only about what someone does, not what someone is feeling or thinking in conjunction with the behavior. If true, the implications narrow the focus for research design and suggest, for example, that
- the “success” of social programs, such as those to feed the poor, can simply be measured by meals served, or
- the effectiveness of youth health initiatives can be defined solely by the incidence of risk behavior, or
- consumer preferences can be determined exclusively by their online shopping activities, or
- employee satisfaction can be fully evaluated by the number of missed or “sick” days, or
- an assessment of a person’s belief system can be obtained by just looking at how often they attend a place of worship.
Maybe – with the growing ability to track where people are when and correlate their digital activities with something of interest – behavior-oriented research designs are the wave of the future. Lex Olivier and Mario van Hamersveld think so. They take this position within the context of 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 is 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