When was the last time you thought about how much you appreciate your online qualitative research participants? It’s OK, it’s a common mistake, according to Judithe Andre of Carrboro, N.C.-based Verbal Clue Research, who wrote on the topic for the November issue of Quirk’s (login required). Just like employers have to show appreciation for their workers on a regular basis, she argues that it’s equally important for researchers to show appreciation toward their participants. Yes, you’re paying them (maybe), but it pays even more (read: better insight) when they know they’re appreciated.
Judithe’s article covers appreciation tactics for in-person interviews, but the same rules apply for a bulletin board focus group or other online qualitative research project. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of her tips. They’re mostly common sense, but can serve as a great reminder for your next project:
- When recruiting, offer potential participants thanks for their time and consideration, whether they qualify for the study or not.
- Judithe suggests starting each project by recognizing the people you are interviewing. “To do this, give them a chance to tell you a little bit about themselves, their business or practice.” Not only does this show them they’re appreciated, it’s also an easy way to get the conversation started.
- This is definitely a no-brainer, but Judithe underscores the importance of using appropriate titles when addressing participants (ask for clarification, if needed).