researcher-respondent contract

Respondents & Participants Help Us, Do We Help Them?

This is in defense of the most important person in the research process.  This is in defense of the person who, without his or her participation, there would be no research.  handsThis is in defense of the individual who caves to our pleas, posturing, and creative bribes and agrees to be a survey respondent or qualitative participant.  We think a lot about this person at the beginning stages of our research, spending considerable thought designing effective invitations and introductions.  We struggle with variations in our language and weigh incentive options hoping to maximize interest and involvement –

“There are only 10 questions, and it should take you about 3-5 minutes.”

“So that we can continue to improve the experience, we invite you to take a survey about the event.”

“In return for your time, we will make a donation to the charity of your choosing.”

Research on research has examined other approaches to invitations and introductions – such as the experiment by Edith de Leeuw and Joop Hox testing the inclusion of “I am not selling anything” in telephone introductions – and, back in the early 1990’s, qualitative researcher Alice Rodgers explored key aspects in the recruiting interview that motivate focus group participation.

But I am concerned that our interest in a particular segment of the population may only go as far as gaining a completed questionnaire or group participation while focused on minimizing nonresponse.  I am concerned that we selfishly look upon the respondent/participant as someone who can help us, not in how we can help them.  And yet that is the explicit or implicit promise Read Full Text