There is nothing quite like going eyeball-to-eyeball with someone when undertaking research! Field research software is developing rapidly simply because industries require a better way of collecting data. When we think face-to-face interviews the first people that usually come to mind are market researchers but there are also a growing number of businesses, local governments, and NGOs that need to capture qualitative data from the public. Here we look at some critical considerations for anyone undertaking field research. We also look at common practices and tools that this research demands.
What Are The Critical Elements Required For A Field Research Project?
The cost of deploying people into the field and any attendant materials. It can quickly become prohibitively expensive to deploy interviewers into the field and provide them with the tools they will need.
The accuracy of the data collection, particularly if it is qualitative data and there is an element of data entry after the fact. Any form of data collection is open to corruption through poor interviewing techniques or mismanagement of the subsequent data.
The need for an audit trail to back up the veracity of the data. Research has to have a clear record of when and who collected the information and, ideally, an archive of all the raw data to ensure results are not skewed.
What Tools Do Field Researchers Usually Use?
There are plenty of different options here. Pen and paper interview scripts are usually designed into columns which are numerically coded so that they can then be more readily ‘punched’ (manually input) into a computer program. Data tables can then be produced for the researcher.
Mobile tablets are also widely used and most survey build/hosting solutions have a tablet-friendly version which can be utilized. Typically the data is stored locally on the tablet and can be transferred via wifi when they are finished.
Field interviewers are often also supplied with showcards. These are just cardboard that can be held up and shown to respondents. They can be visual prompts which show a product or brand logo or they can be answer options or scales to help respondents better understand the questions. In the case of scales, two versions would be supplied to the interviewers and used alternately to remove bias.
Software solutions for field researchers can take many forms, from products designed specifically for them, like Qualtrics or Voxcitio, to products that are more general applications like Salesforce or Excel. As with all solutions, the fewer products required by a team the better. Having to manage multiple software and manually merge data from one source to the other is something that everyone would want to avoid.
The Advantages Of Field Research
Despite the extra workload in organizing field research and the rise in popularity of online and mobile surveys, face-to-face interviews still remain a popular data collection method. The face-to-face method provides advantages over other data collection methods, including:
Face-to-face interviews help with a more accurate screening of respondents. The individual being interviewed is unable to provide false information during screening questions such as gender, age, or race. Online surveys can be skewed by false answers from interviewees.
With an interviewer in control of the research interaction, there is less chance of the respondent straying off point or misunderstanding the question.
Not all data collection is simple facts. Face-to-face interviewers can also capture non-verbal cues and sense impressions from an interviewee.
Interviewers may need to be flexible in the information that they are collecting. Are there free text answers required, does the interviewer need to react to specific conditions or are there complex survey branching requirements? The face-to-face interview can provide that scope if necessary.
As suggested, the need for quality software solutions in the area of field research is becoming a pressing one. It is not just traditional field researchers but also businesses and government entities that require dedicated products to solve their research needs. Voxcitio is at the vanguard of this movement providing a complete package of database management, team organization, and CRM to go along with the specific functionality of survey builder and mobile app data collection tool.
Taking as its starting point the idea that all organizations should be able to do field research and online research simply and affordably Vconnecta built a package of functionality that will appeal to market researchers, businesses and government bodies that need to communicate with their community or the general public.
If you would like to learn more about the next generation of field research then contact us below.