I recently wrote a blog post stating that one of the hardest learning points of self employment has been when to do NOTHING. A few people in real life have chatted with me further about this, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about how it works for me.
Basically I am looking to undertake primary research projects for public or third sector organisations, I would be absolutely delighted to take on virtually any projects that meet this description, and I am well qualified to provide a high quality service for any project with this remit. But! This does not mean that I will get picked to do so. There’s lots of consultants out there, and I can be one of twenty submitting a tender for a single job. At the start of my self-employed career I bid for anything and everything, but over time I have worked out what sort of projects I never win and I have stopped bothering tendering for them. I identify several opportunities every week that I could potentially apply for, and it can take a working day to write a proposal, so not bothering to bid for work that I probably won’t win saves me a lot of time.
In my last post I gave a link to a publication that I had recently had in a peer reviewed journal, which was very exciting for me.
If you are interested to read the publications that I have to my name, you can view these on my website.
A short list, isn’t it?
At last count: 11 project reports, 3 journal / magazine articles, 2 e-books, and a handful of press articles.
Not much to show for a 14 year career in research! Read more…
- It gives me a record of the session
- It helps me with analysis as I can either have it transcribed or listen back to it multiple times
- I don’t need to take notes as I go along, and can concentrate on the conversation
Great for me! But sometimes respondents can be a bit wary of the Big Brotheryness of it all, or anxious that they may be being covertly recorded, or worried that a recording of them speaking might fall into the wrong hands.
As a professional researcher I take this very seriously, and making a recording naturally has ethical considerations attached to it. I need to ensure that I gain consent from the respondent to record what they say, and the data I am generating (the recorded file) needs to be used and stored appropriately and securely.
When I conduct in-depth interviews I always do so with the aid of an interview schedule, which is a list of questions to guide each conversation. After a briefing from my client, I prepare a bullet-point list of questions and prompts running to one or two pages in length. Following this document ensures I ask everything that I need to ask to meet my client’s needs.
This is our internal document, for me and my client.
Before I speak to them I give respondents a broad overview of what they can expect from the interview. For example, I might say:
I am evaluating Project Fish, which will involve me talking to people that took part in the project about their experiences of how it went and the difference it made, if any. The conversations should take about half an hour.
That’s all I typically say. But a few times of late, my clients have asked me to show respondents a copy of my interview questions in advance.
This isn’t standard protocol.
So I did!
I sat up at the Nursery filling in the form on my lap, and as I went through it my market researcher alarm kicked in.
The form asked me to select my son’s ethnicity. Fair enough, of course it did. I have written extensively on the subject of ethnicity questions and why they are so long and complicated.
But this wasn’t a straightforward question. There were two options that could apply, and it was clearly stated that I should select one only.
Paralysed with indecision, I was.