Data, in research, is everything—and not just the accumulation of data in general, but the acquisition of high-quality data by a sound and replicable methodology. Just as the 2017 APPAM conference is focusing on the importance of rigorous measurement, so has the 2017 GRIT report reiterated that the primary concern of research scientists remains data quality. For while sloppy methodology results in sloppy data, a critical component to the collection process is the utilization of experienced field data collectors.
With a general decline in data collector hire in-house as well as associated training programs, research organizations must increasingly seek to partner with staffing organizations experienced in the research sector.
While different interview methodologies require different skills, all field interviewers must be able to establish a rapport with their respondents. Taking time to establish a connection and establish a sense of trust is critical to the successful outcome of the interviewing process. This is particularly important in semi- or unstructured interviewing when the respondent must feel sufficiently comfortable to elaborate beyond the specific questions being asked. One of the most important abilities that a field interviewer must possess in these particular situations, is the ability to listen attentively to what is being said. Adopting an open and neutral body language, nodding and smiling in a receptive way, making affirmative noises of acknowledgement and encouragement, as well as the strategic use of silence, can all be used to effectively encourage respondents to think further about their statements, elaborate or clarify.
Skilled and experienced interviewers are capable of eliciting the nuanced information that is necessary to ensure that comprehensive and representative data is collected during the interviewing process.
Headway in Research is a human capital solutions provider dedicated to the research sector. We are proud to provide experienced data collection solutions nationwide.
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Field Interviewer Characteristics Necessary for the Acquisition of High-Quality Qualitative Data