The challenges of research design: with so many tools, how to choose?
A commentary on today’s vastly different qualitative research landscape
I’ve been noticing a pattern with client discussions lately that goes along these lines. They want to know what method I suggest and how much it will cost. Seems like a simple enough question from their side of the table, right?
I envision a simple past where the choice was between focus groups or individual interviews, reserving on-site observational methods only for the most sophisticated clients.
But designing qualitative now is getting almost as complicated as a wedding reception. There are a thousand decisions to make, but it’s hard to start unless you have a vision of the final result, and some notion of budget.
We could start with a simple course of blogging in advance of focus groups. Or discussion forums in advance of focus groups. Or participant video after discussion forums. Or in-person interviews followed by web-enabled telephone interviews.
Confession to clients everywhere: it’s not that we don’t want to answer your questions, and that far-away look in our eyes is not because we’re bored. It’s that the options are frankly HUGE, and increasing all the time.
The only solution I can offer is that we have to work together, as transparently as possible, to figure out scope and objectives, based on how much leverage the research findings can bring to the organization. Then I can scurry away and fool around with spreadsheets trying to figure out the optimum strategy based on budget and objectives.