Keep Qual Human

Written by Laura Pulito • Posted on February 5, 2020
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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference in Austin, TX. It was Recollective’s first time attending since 2016 and we were delighted to be able to spend time with current customers and meet other researchers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Being able to connect in person and learn about their needs and challenges was tremendously beneficial as we continue to evolve Recollective to support the industry.

With a theme of “Keep Qual Human”, the conference focused on how researchers can embrace advances in technology to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of qual research while staying true to the mission of better understanding people. Specifically, it highlighted how modern technology helps researchers empathize with people.

This message really spoke to me as a researcher because I have experienced the evolution of qualitative research first-hand for over a decade. In many ways the continual advancement of technology has enabled researchers like me to reach a broader audience, streamline the experience and turn around insights at a faster pace than ever before. BUT it’s so important to make sure that our convenience isn’t at the expense of the participant’s experience. “Keep Qual Human” helps to re-center our focus on what matters most – keeping the participant at the heart of the research and making meaningful, personal connections.

In Kristin Luck’s keynote speech, she spoke to the evolution of research and the maturation of research tech. It was interesting to hear her perspective on “what we got right” and “where we went wrong”. Some of the key points that I took away from her presentation:

What we got right:

  • Speed: the turnaround time to insights is getting shorter so it’s important for qualitative researchers to consolidate timelines as much as possible to stay competitive in the space
  • Cost Reduction: the days of markup are over - clients are smarter in how they work and partner with people so it’s important to provide value at a competitive price
  • Data Access: information travels further across organizations – broader access means more people are looking at the information on an ongoing basis so it’s key to speak to what stakeholders value and communicate in their language

Where we went wrong:

  • Design: People are not robots - we need to make surveys more relatable and talk to participants like real human beings. Online studies need to be redesigned so they are shorter and more engaging to boost data quality and response rates.
  • Respondent engagement, respect & compensation: we expect people to do ridiculous things for tiny amounts of money – participants are for the first time understanding the value of their feedback and want to be compensated appropriately for their time.

Reflecting back on what it means to keep qual human, I think it’s our duty to remember that the participants we engage with are not just respondents, they are people first; people with unique perspectives and it’s their voice that paints our story. We must put them at the core of how we design our studies. Only then can we ensure that our methods truly reflect how people interact day-to-day and as a consequence, maximize the value of the research we do.

When speaking to the maturation of research tech, Kristin mentioned that there are companies out there building tech for researchers without having the knowledge of the industry or background in research which can lead to problems. This goes back to my point earlier about being able to hear first-hand from researchers what their challenges are so we can provide solutions through our technology.

I’m lucky enough to be leading an internal research team here at Recollective. Our purpose is to be the voice of the industry so that as a company, Recollective can continue addressing those needs as qualitative research evolves.

If you are reading this post and have ideas you want to share – I want to hear them! Please send your suggestions to me or set up a call. We’re also happy to help provide guidance if you are looking to expand your research toolkit and want to “keep qual human” in your online design.

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