Earlier in the year, I posted a blog about methodologies and the best practices Research Managers at PortMA employ when drafting one. At the end of that post I mentioned that I would be following up with more information on methodologies. If you have been anxiously awaiting Part II, your wait is over! May I present to you “Best Practices for Research Methodologies – Part II.”
In the last blog post, I talked about the four major elements a research methodology should include. There were:
- Definition of the program goals
- Identification of the target demographic
- Documentation of the major segments
- Established parameters of data collection tools
This blog will focus on the planning and logistic information that PortMA likes to include in a research methodology, because you can never have too much information.
When I say “planning and logistic information,” I think of how I would like the research process to go in a perfect world. We know the world isn’t perfect, but planning ahead can help alleviate hiccups and bumps in the road. So without further adieu….
Defining the data collection process
Data collection processes need to be clearly defined. I know I touched briefly on this in Part I, but I would like to go into more detail here. Some of the questions that should be answered include:
- How will the data be collected? Will the survey be collected by a staff member or will the survey be set up as a kiosk? Will an internet connection be available or do we need to have a process in place so that data may be stored locally until an internet connection is available? What type of devices will be used to collect data? All of these questions need to be clearly addressed so that training can be developed and the proper tools put into place for data to be accurate.
- How much data will need to be collected for research goals to be accomplished? Collecting data can be a daunting task for some. We have a standard at PortMA: We like to have at least 350 responses per relevant segment (this will be defined in the methodology, too). We like to train staff to reach these minimum quotas. We do this by dividing 350 by the number of events each segment will have. If staff can collect more, great, but we don’t want survey administration to detract from the experience.
- What questions will be asked of consumers? A copy of the survey should always be a part of the methodology. It will be easier for the client to digest the results with the research goals close at hand. Also, it is easier to get approval for all of the pertinent items in one sitting.
Defining Field Staff Reporting Metrics
Now that we have defined the survey data collection process in more detail, we are going to move on to recommendations for Field Staff Reporting.
This is data not collected in the actual survey, but is, nonetheless, just as important. It covers the reach of each event.
Examples of field staff metrics include:
- Consumer Interactions
- Types of Samples Distributed (If sampling is a part of the activation)
- Anecdotal information about the event
We like to have these clearly defined in our methodology so we can:
- Know what is being collected
- Offer recommendations on additional information to collect if we believe that important data is missing.
Defining the Reporting Strategy
Last, but not least, research methodologies should always clearly lay out the reporting strategy to ensure everyone is on the same page.
This should include what types of reports will be delivered, when the client can expect to receive the reports and, finally, what the client can expect to see in each report.
I could probably write another five blogs on drafting a research methodology (and I may in the future), but the two I have written so far should give you are great start on understanding and designing methodologies.
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