Are you thinking about signing up to participate in a market research study but unsure what your responsibilities will be? This article walks you through everything you might want to know about the obligations of participating in market research. (Research organizations have responsibilities to you too but that’s a topic for a different article.)
By far, the most important responsibility you have is to be truthful in your responses.
Your contribution to the research is one of the most valuable components of the research. It requires that you answer all questions honestly. Market research findings depend on your sincerity.
To establish that you meet research criteria, your first step will be to answer questions to establish that you are qualified to participate in the specific study. Healthcare research studies typically need people who have a specific condition or disease, take a drug, or provide care to a certain type of patient.
By the way, not being a good fit for a study, even when it seems like you are, can happen because the research may need a mix of ages, or an even split of genders, or some other criteria that can make even the best participants unqualified for one study, yet qualified for a similar study weeks later.
ACCESS and AVAILABILITY
Once the scheduler determines that you are a good fit for the study, you will need to be available at a specific time. Once you agree to the specific time and place, your responsibilities will include:
• Taking calls from the scheduler to confirm your participation
• Calling the scheduler if for any reason you cannot attend
o It is vitally important to give the scheduler as much notice as possible so they can refill your spot
Some interviews and focus groups take place remotely by telephone, often with an online component. For these studies, it’s important that you have a good phone signal and quite possibly a laptop or desk computer with reliable internet connection. Sometimes you can use a tablet or cell phone, but be sure to ask if you’re uncertain about the technology requirements. If you don’t have the necessary technology in place on the day scheduled, you won’t be able to participate, and typically, it is not possible to reschedule.
The length of time that you will be actively engaged in the data collection part of the research depends on the design of the research project. Generally speaking, you will spend an hour to three hours participating in the interview or focus group, with another 15 minutes required to sign in. In addition, unless the interview is by phone, you need to allocate time for travel and parking.
Some studies require that research participants collect information daily for a month or longer and, in those cases, your involvement may be to spend time on a specified activity for 15 – 30 minutes a day, such as writing in a journal or posting information online.
For in-person research, research participants dress comfortably. It is thoughtful to refrain from wearing strong scents for those who have a sensitivity, e.g., people who might get a headache from cologne or perfume.
DURING THE SESSION
It is important that you are comfortable speaking to one or more people who you’ve just met and to share your thoughts, opinions and ideas with them.
Sessions are led by moderators who are professionals within their chosen field, such as healthcare. Moderators are experienced at gathering the information that is needed for the research, so your job is to pay attention to their instructions and to go along with their requests. You can rest assured that they won’t ask you to do anything that is scary or difficult. They will help you participate in a way that is easy for you and useful to the research.
Your responsibility to the moderator then is to treat him or her with respect and to respond positively to their requests. In focus groups, you can expect to participate in conversations with other research participants like yourself. Depending on the study, the moderator may ask you to complete an activity, such as choosing pictures or filling out a worksheet. All activities will be carefully developed and easy for you to complete.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
If you are still are unsure what you to expect after reading this article, ask questions of the scheduler. Remember, you are a valuable part of the research process and everyone in the research community wants you to have a good experience.
All in all, participating in market research should be an enjoyable and enlivening experience. It’s fun to meet other people, talk about yourself, receive a stipend in appreciation, and make a positive contribution to the market research process