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The research equivalent of stage fright

April 22, 2014

2008-10-23All of the research projects that I undertake are carefully planned and executed in collaboration with my clients.  Everything I do is based on a combination of good research practice and a consultancy approach to ensure that I deliver something useful and usable for my clients, which should help them to make genuine evidence-based decisions.  I spend weeks or months planning and gathering data, and I keep my clients informed about the progress throughout.

We talk about reporting requirements, maybe more than once – usually at the Briefing meeting and at the point where I’m starting to write the report.  We talk about style and content and audience and page count.  There should be no real surprises when it comes to receiving it, it should be the culmination of a well understood process in a pre-agreed format.

… and yet… every time I hand in a report I’m terrified as I wait for the feedback.

… which can take weeks…

I worry that once the client sees the report in front of them it won’t be what they want.

I don’t have a point to make with this blog post, just a little insight into my life.

Reporting your use of incentives

April 8, 2014


I’m always happy to oblige with answering questions from my readers.  This search landed on my blog the other day:

“Do you have to report any incentives given to study participants?”

When it comes to research, an incentive is (according to the Market Research Society) “any benefit offered to respondents to encourage participation in a project”.  I’ve written about incentives before, here, so click to find out more.

My reader is wondering: when it comes to writing up the findings to a research project, is it necessary to say whether and what respondents were given to persuade them to participate?

Good question.

Read more…

Pregnancy and self employment

March 26, 2014


I am currently pregnant, so I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on the impact that this has on my business.  How does it affect me, and how does it affect my clients?

When asking me about this, people seem to assume that pregnancy is a special case with an unusual impact on self employment.  I’d like to argue that it isn’t all that different to any number of life event that might impact on my work.  And life events are a thing that any good project manager plans for.

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Keep your open ended questions for special occasions

March 11, 2014

2012-10-25Back in the day when I worked at a research agency, we used to include a maximum of two open ended (free text / write in) questions in each questionnaire.  And possibly a small handful of ‘other specify’ options as well if absolutely necessary.  But not many, anyway, we deliberately rationed them.

One thing I have noticed of late is that when organisations write their own questionnaires they put in many many many open ended questions.

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Making an abnormal situation feel normal in qual

February 25, 2014

2012-01-20Qualitative research (i.e. focus groups, depth interviews) does not lend itself to normal conversations.  The researcher has an agenda.  They have things that their client needs them to ask, and it is important that they hear the answers back from the respondent in their own words.

Qualitative research is thus in many ways extremely regimented and entirely one sided.  The researcher asks the questions and the respondent gives the answers, in a way which allows the respondent to tell their story without being distracted or influenced by the researcher.

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When to continue working for yourself, and when to stop flogging a dead horse

February 11, 2014

2013-12-13I’ve been working for myself for more than three years now, and self employment has ups and downs.  When the downs come, it is difficult to know whether to stay in business or pack up and return to the world of 9 to 5, and this is especially hard because when you’re in charge it is solely your responsibility to decide.  Quitting is a big decision and it can be tempting to hang on too long and keep flogging a dead horse.

I don’t want to do that, I want to run a viable business on my own terms.

I want to be sensible, and make evidence-based decisions.

To address this, there are a few things that I regularly monitor and take into consideration when evaluating the viability of my business.

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What’s putting you off participating in research?

January 29, 2014

2012-10-11Hit on my blog: “Why don’t people like to participate in research?”

As you know I think members of the public should pitch in and have a go when they’re asked to participate in market research (Market research – what’s in it for you?).  I’ve written loads of articles about market research ethics and methodologies over the past couple of years, often trying to raise awareness that we’re a regulated and trustworthy profession and we do our best to do right by our respondents (5 reasons why researchers are not as bad as you think).

But I’m well aware that many people have reservations.

I’m not going to go over old ground, but I thought I’d gather together some of my blog posts so that if you have a particular worry or concern you can click through and find out a bit more about why things are as they are, or perhaps why things are not quite as you thought, or indeed what you should expect (or demand!) from a professionally done research project.

Read more…


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