Posted on 09/17/19 by Danielle Garan
Online qualitative research made it possible to connect with respondents virtually, eliminating geographical limitations, allowing for faster data generation, and ultimately reducing costs. While it has been proven to be an effective and efficient means of drawing insights, there are still slip-ups that could happen if you are not careful enough.
3 Elements to Consider for a Successful Online Qualitative Study:
Not choosing the right moderator
Like what they say, an in-depth interview or a focus group discussion is only as good as its moderator. It is, therefore, crucial to work with a moderator who can strike a balance between a free-flowing discussion and a structured research discussion. You need someone who is experienced with time tracking and someone who knows how to ask the right questions. The moderator has to be fully prepared. And since online qualitative research is web-enabled, the moderator should also possess good technical know-how to easily facilitate online interviews or even MROC discussions. It’s also a plus if your moderator can type fast to utilize the chat function feature of your platform.
Meet up with your moderator ahead of time with detailed instructions about the objective of the research, specific points to consider, and any stimuli you might use for the study. In between the study, determine if the stimuli were effective or not so you can make the necessary modifications if needed.
Gathering too many or too few respondents
There has to be a limit to the number of respondents recruited depending on the scope of your study. You wouldn’t want to over recruit participants and end up taking so much time accommodating them all especially if there’s no need to. If they end up getting bored and uninterested during your sessions, it’ll be easy for them to withdraw from your study too. The solution is to keep your participants at a minimum number, say, 6-10 participants. And rather than accommodating a huge number of respondents, focus instead on engaging the minimal respondents that you have.
But you should also keep in mind that it’s important to have a back-up plan in case any of the original participants withdraw or become unavailable at the last minute.
While the number of your participants is important, your main focus should still be directed first and foremost at recruiting the right respondents. Quality respondents largely determine the success of your IDIs and FGDs.
Not investing in the right software or service provider
Aside from making sure that you get the right moderator, you should also take the time to find a reliable software or service provider. Given that this is done via the web, your research will heavily rely on technology. When you’re looking for a reliable software or service provider, make sure you consider three main things:
What do you hope to achieve through this software? Are you looking into recruiting respondents globally? Look for software that has multi-language capabilities. Would you need something that can support multiple pieces of stimuli? Would you need transcriptions after the FGDs or IDIs? How reliable is their customer service? These are just a few questions that you should consider when looking for a service provider.
Ease of use
Imagine you’re the respondent navigating through the platform and you find yourself lost in a sea of images and text and couldn’t even find the right icons to click. You will most likely lose interest in participating too which is why how you navigate through a platform is a huge consideration when conducting online qualitative research.
Make sure that the software provider has security features intended to protect the respondents’ personally identifiable information and prevent it from getting leaked. You can look for features that include video blurring and audio masking, especially for highly sensitive studies. Opting for a particular software just because it is cheaper may ultimately cost you more if the results are affected by a sudden technical glitch
You should also consider a software or service provider who is compliant with different privacy laws to assure respondents that their rights as individuals are secured and protected.
Be cautious of these three components to avoid any unnecessary delays, issues, and inconsistencies in your study. In the end, preparation is your strongest means of conducting a successful research.