I was just reading a couple of posts from March about how we are not doing well by our research participants. First, there was Annie Pettit’s post about how we sometimes use YouTube videos to help make a point in a presentation — without asking for permission from the original poster first.
Second was an article by Melanie Courtwright on Greenbook about how slowly the market industry is moving to actually caring about whether or not the market research experience is a good one for our research participants.
What do both of these issues have in common? I think it signals we’ve forgotten there are human beings on the other side of the computer/survey/video.
Annie even wrote a book about how our survey respondents aren’t robots, so can we stop designing questionnaires like they are, already?
Why is this such a seemingly elusive principle for us to grasp? Lest I sound like I’m anti-technology, perhaps when it comes to quantitative research, we’ve become so accustomed to not seeing and interacting with our research participants, we’ve rather forgotten they’re even there. Perhaps, even though panels ask at the end of surveys what the experience was with the latest survey, we don’t ever look at the results of the question (do we even think to ask for the data?). Perhaps, in an effort to get more research done faster and cheaper, we’ve forgotten to slow down and ask ourselves if the experience in which we’re asking our audiences to participate is going to leave them upset or glad they participate in the first place. Perhaps, in an effort to become better storytellers and stop sharing only slides full of charts and data points, we’ve forgotten to ask permission from those who create the multimedia we use in our presentations — and maybe we’ve forgotten because we also forgot it was a person who created it in the first place.
My problem solving nature begs for a solution. I don’t think education for either researchers or research participants is the answer, though. There have been blog posts enough, conference talks enough, and maybe even research studies enough that we should be paying more attention and delivering better experiences already. So, while I keep mulling the why’s behind our own behaviors towards those outside our industry, I’d love to hear thoughts on how we fix it.
How do we remember the human beings on the other side of our research and reports?