Truth and Research – 5 key components

I’m writing this on the day of the EU referendum and a day when the pollsters will find out if they got it right or wrong.  Polling has a potted history and has lost the research industry a lot of trust in the processes and accuracy of research.  Do people say what they really think? Do they do what they say? How can you be sure that your research has truth at its core?

We don’t do polling research or large scale surveys but the basic premise is the same in quantitative and qualitative research – we rely on people telling us the truth, of having valid and authentic discussions to help us understand genuine behaviours and choices. So it seems a good time to reflect on the key essentials to conducting qualitative research to help ensure valuable truthful and insightful research.

1.       Plan and Refine – really get to grips about what you want to achieve from your research and how you can best achieve this.  Get advice if you’re not sure about the right method. Small studies can be just as revealing as larger studies if they are well targeted and planned.

2.       Respondent Recruitment – use professionals, get advice from your research agency – don’t do it yourself.  A fundamental part of the process is finding genuine people who fit the profile you need to look at – this isn’t easy, it takes time and can be a mini research project in its own right.  Don’t skimp on this.

3.       Independent facilitation – you need to trust the findings and be assured that there is no bias in the way your research is conducted.

4.       Rapport and warm up – A good facilitator will know how to relax respondents and build rapport and trust.  The introductions and warm up questions are a vital part of this process, they are not wasting time before the main show – they are an essential element to ensure the main show works.

5.       Keep an open mind – Try and put your expectations aside – sometimes results surprise us or don’t fit with what we thought we would hear or wanted to hear – make sure you’re ready for the answers research will offer up.  Discuss the results with your research agency – they are independent and often see issues/patterns/themes that clients are blind to. Research can help to shift mind-sets, understand another aspect of our client base or flag up essential to know insight. It will always help you understand your customers/clients/service users – sometimes in ways you didn’t expect – remember the customer is never wrong – you asked the question, they gave you the answer, now go and act on it.