Ten Tips for Flawless Fieldwork
Research firms like Versta (and research teams like yours?) tend to think of design, strategy, and analysis as the critical place where we add value. But guess what. Everybody thinks that, and one consequence is that fieldwork and data collection are becoming dangerously bad. Nobody is paying attention anymore. Fieldwork is on auto-pilot.
We recommend you get closer to your fieldwork, overseeing and managing every detail of what is being done and how. Like us, you will realize how critical it is, and you will do better research having built up a foundation of data that is rock-solid.
How can you do that? Read Ten Tips for Flawless Fieldwork, the feature article of Versta Research’s fall newsletter. It is an in-depth look at strategies for ensuring rigorous data collection, specifically:
- Hover over vendors. Most will not execute rigorous fieldwork unless you tell them exactly what to do.
- Set sample quotas. Nearly every study should have quotas nested within others to avoid the skews that sample vendors create.
- Build in validation. Some of your data will be phony, so you need built-in ways to identify bad respondents and robots.
- Optimize for everyone. This goes beyond mobile. Think multiple browsers and all kinds of devices, including assistive devices used by people with disabilities.
- Punish test surveys. The goal of testing is not to confirm that your survey is working. Assume your survey is broken and your goal is to find out where.
- Write great invitations. You have one precious moment to convince people your survey is worth taking. A snazzy, thoughtful invitation will help.
- Don’t go fast. Resist the temptation. It is easy to collect lots of data super fast. Guaranteed it will probably be garbage.
- Review for quality. And cut ruthlessly. These days we cut 10% to 25% of “respondents” as fraudulent even from the highest quality panels.
- Solicit feedback. Offer respondents a comment box at the end of your survey, and they will share invaluable information about things you’re doing wrong.
- Keep a watchlist. A close, daily review of your data is one of the best ways to ensure adherence to fieldwork best practices.
As you start getting closer to your fieldwork and data, you will see all the ways in which auto-pilot approaches to fieldwork are now failing. It may scare you. But for sure, you will realize there is a new frontier where high-level professionals can (and must) bring value.