Versta Research Blog

Versta Research Blog

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Versta Research is a marketing research and public opinion polling firm that helps you answer critical questions with customized research and analytical expertise.

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Versta Research Blog

Explore industry trends, research methods, and tips for your own research projects in the Versta Research Blog. All opinions are our own, and some may change over time.

First time reader? Check out the Best of the Blog for the most popular posts from almost 10 years of blogging. We’re glad you’re here.

Why You Need 4-Point Scales

Why You Need 4-Point Scales

One of the “best practices” for survey research I learned in graduate school and then early in my career is this: Survey measurement scales should have at least five points. Presumably that provides enough room for variation, and it provides a neutral midpoint as well. But it is not true. Or, like all best practices,…

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200 Chart Choices with R

200 Chart Choices with R

The R statistical package is an amazingly powerful and versatile tool for data analysis and data visualization. When it comes to graphics and charts, here is one reason: It has foundational plotting tools that can be adapted in infinitely many ways to create (and invent) many more types of charts than you will find in…

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How Much Incentive You Should Pay

How Much Incentive You Should Pay

If you have trouble getting people to fill out your surveys, you ought to be paying them. There is nothing wrong with it. It does not mess up your data with phony information that people were paid to provide. On the contrary, paying an appropriate incentive helps signal the importance of your survey such that…

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Google Surveys Stumbles with Sneak Peek Mess

Google Surveys Stumbles with Sneak Peek Mess

Sometimes data visualization is too compelling for it’s own good. People are impressed by the beautiful design, and they look right past the utter nonsense being presented. This is “beautifully” illustrated by Google’s rollout of the first of many new features of their survey tool. Here’s the email they sent: We’re excited to announce that…

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Good Research Has Insights Baked In

Good Research Has Insights Baked In

Here’s a sobering question for professionals who work in the “insights” industry: How much of your market research really offers insight? Not just validating data, or routine measurements, or pro forma tracking. Not just percentages of “how many said what” in a customized study. By true insight we mean: a direct answer to a deeply…

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Big Fat Margins of Error

Big Fat Margins of Error

Whenever you see those “margin of error” statements on political polls and other published surveys (even in market research industry publications, unfortunately!) take them with a grain of salt. They reflect only one type of potential error in surveys: namely, sampling error associated with sample size. Chances are that the “real” margin of error (if…

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Trim Your Weights at Five

Trim Your Weights at Five

How many young African American men support Donald Trump? Not many. But if one of them ends up randomly selected into your survey, and if you use statistical weighting to ensure the sample does not skew too old and too white, then you are in trouble. This is what’s happening to the LA Times’ election…

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Amazon MTurk

Using MTurk for Market Research

A surprising trend among our academic colleagues in marketing, psychology, and the social and behavioral sciences, is that they are crowdsourcing respondents for research studies from Mechanical Turk (MTurk). I am still overcoming my own resistance to the idea, as it rubs against Versta Research’s obsessive focus on data quality. Online sampling absolutely can and…

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Using SMS Texts for Surveys

Using SMS Texts for Surveys

Even just a few years ago the idea of using SMS text messaging for surveys seemed absurd. There were strong demographic skews to cell phone usage, and among SMS usage as well. Texting was often a cost add-on for cell phone users, so they carefully guarded it. And of course research companies could barely manage…

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