Qualitative data’s importance is directly linked to its quality. From initial phases of design to post release follow-through, such input helps designers and marketers better understand their customers’ or prospective customers’ opinions, ideas, and concerns. Integral for direction, qualitative data must be accurate and thorough as possible.
A study’s rigor is what primarily differentiates what is research and what is not research. The strength of a study’s processes and findings, ‘rigor in research’ is a catch-all term that denotes quality and reliability within all methods of research. Measuring rigor in research depends on research methodology and type. Rigorous quantitative research, for instance, considers specificity, accuracy, and thoroughness. Likewise, qualitative research also has its own criteria.
- Credibility – The stringency of a study’s processes, accuracy of its sources, and level that findings that properly reflects its topic area
- Applicability – The data’s and study processes’ applicability to different contexts and scenarios
- Consistency – The study’s findings degree of similarity if the research and its processes are repeated
- Neutrality – Lack of biases, motives, or other elements that can skew findings
Common Methods to Ensure the Adequate Rigor in Research
There are a few core methods that help ensure vigor. Each accounts for different factors that direct business research methods like interviews or focus groups. While important individually, using multiple methods further enhances each study’s overall accessibility. Doing so is also important because no method area is comprehensive.
Accounting for Bias
Qualitative researchers strive for the most accurate findings possible. Objectivity is very important. No researcher, however, can remain completely detached from their own perspective. Analyzing bias and expectations, both individually and as a group, ensures researchers better consider implications, processes, and all important lines of inquiry.
Ethical Rigor in Research
Accounting for bias is just one element of ethical rigor. Rigor is essential in qualitative research, which means avoiding fabrication, deceit and carelessness. The researcher has a responsibility to ensure all work published is truthful and consistent with their findings. False rigor can be demonstrated in the following:
Purposefully misleading rigor: The researcher changes data or modifies statistics with the intent of changing the outcome of the study and misleading the public.
Creative rigor in research: The researcher may find loopholes to prove a theory or hypothesis. This is inconsistent with rigor.
Careless rigor: The researcher is careless in how they apply rigor meaning results cannot be reliable.
Clear Paper Trail
A clear paper trail that documents all important activity, processes, and details is crucial for both the study’s direction and analysis. Through it, researchers can identify their progress and objectives, as well better consider alternative routes to their goals. Clear paper trails allow researchers to more easily review archives, as well track progress and changes.
Selecting the right respondents is crucial to qualitative research. Ensuring respondents are truthful about their background is a major part of each study’s legitimacy. Including the wrong respondents can throw off insight relevant to anything from product generation to post-release follow ups.
Software and Technology
Computer-assisted qualitative data software, or CAQDAS, enables researchers to streamline numerous market research methods while also preserving the data’s integrity. Typically used for coding, or the process of cataloging and comparing input, CAQDAS also quickens the analysis process. Researchers can cover more areas and consider more angles with such programs.
Innovations like efficient HD streaming and mobile technology, meanwhile, are opening new avenues for researchers. Many qualitative methods traditionally require a shared space for research -emotives are often important as spoken replies. New services, however, are enabling researchers to conduct on-demand, online qual that offers the same observational detail as the human eye. Online qualitative platforms also improve the other aspects of rigor. Overall access to respondents dramatically improves, as does validating them and tracing each study’s progress. Learn more by checking out our demo today!
Zach Simmons is the Founder and president of Discuss.io. Zach has 20 years of experience building software. Prior to founding Discuss.io, he was the Technical Product Manager for Amazon Web Services (S3) where he ran the team that built the infrastructure that now powers a significant percentage of the modern Internet. Zach holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
An entrepreneurial leader, Zach is passionate about building disruptive and agile SaaS based market research startups as an alternative to traditional market research. Seeing a need for change within the Industry, Zach launched Discuss.io, bringing Market Research to the digital age.