The Council for Marketing and Opinion Research (CMOR) is a national nonprofit research industry trade group In a CMOR survey that interviewed more than 3,700 U.S. consumers, nearly 45 percent said the, ad refused to participate in a survey over the past year. CMOR offers several guidelines related to fieldwork to help reduce refusal rates:
• Interviewer training programs should be routinely administered so that fieldworkers will be effective at their jobs.
• Courtesy should be exercised when deciding what hours of the day to call respondents. Calling between 9 A.M. and 9 P.M. is recommended.
• If maIl respondents indicate the time is not convenient, an appointment should be made to conduct the interview later.
• The subject matter should be disclosed to the respondents if this can be done without biasing the data. The more information people are given, the less reason they have to be suspicious.
• Fieldworkers should make the interviews as pleasant and appealing as possible.
Create Your Own Online Survey
Create Survey is an international online company that allows anyone to create and administer online surveys to whomever they want. It distributes the survey,monitors participation and participants, and then collects and analyzes the data, all for free, It is sponsored by Web advertising in the Corm of online banners that appear on the site and the questionnaires, so respondents as well as the survey creators see the advertisements, If an individual does not wish to have the advertising banners appear on the page, they can be removed, but then a fee is charged to the creator to support the service. Create Survey does not provide respondents. This is done by the users at their discretion. For instance, they may create a Web page and have the survey as a link from the Web page, or they may send out an e-mail with the link requesting people to participate in the survey, Create Survey provides a valuable service Concreting and administering online surveys that have been used b) many individuals, companies, universities, and even marketing research organizations. Another Web-based service that also lets you create your own surveys is by Market Tools an Internet-based, technology-enabled, Cull-service marketing research company (www.themarketingresearch.com).
The Nature of Fieldwork
Marketing research data are rarely collected by the persons who design the research. Researchers have two major options for collecting their data: They Cart develop their own organizations or they can contract with a fieldwork agency. In either case, data collection involves the use of some kind of field force. The field force may operate either in the field (personal in-home, mall intercept, computer assisted personal interviewing, and observation) or from an office (telephone, mail, mail panel, e-mail, and Internet surveys), The fieldworkers who collect the data typically have little research background or training. Ethical concerns are particularly germane to fieldwork. Although there is ample opportunity for violation of ethical standards, clients need not be overly concerned when dealing with reputable fieldwork agencies. Michael Redington, senior vice president for corporate development at Marketing and Research Counselors Group is an aggressive advocate of field quality. His evaluation of the quality of fieldwork in the marketing research industry is as follows: “1 was very pleased to help shoot down the myth that data collection is characterized by a bunch of people out there attempting to bend the rules, to rip you off, and to cheat on interviews. There are a lot of people on the client side who believe just that. Quite frankly, we were out trying to find it, but we didn’t, That was a revelation to us. We were afraid that there were more unethical practices in the field than there really were.”2 The quality of fieldwork is high because the fieldwork/data-collection process is streamlined and well controlled.
All fieldwork involves the selection, training, and supervision of persons who collect data, The validation of fieldwork and the evaluation of fieldworkers are also parts of the process, represents a general framework for the fieldwork/data-collection process, Although we describe a general process, it should be recognized that the nature of fieldwork varies with the mode of data collection, and the relative emphasis on the different steps will be different for telephone, personal, mail, and electronic interviews.
Selection of Fieldworkers
The first step in the fieldwork process is the selection of fieldworkers. The researcher should
(1) develop job specifications for the project, taking into account the mode of .data collection;
(2) decide what characteristics the fieldworkers should have; and
recruit appropriate individuals Interviewers, background characteristics, opinions, perceptions, expectations, and attitudes can affect the responses they elicit.4
For example, the social acceptability of a field worker to the respondent may affect the quality of data obtained, especially in personal interviewing, Researchers generally agree that the more characteristics the interviewer and the respondent have in common, the greater the probability of a successful interview.
Searching for Common Ground
In a survey dealing with emotional well-being and mental health, older interviewers got better cooperation from respondents than younger interviewers. However, this performance appeared to be independent of years of experience, Differences in non-response rates also appeared between black and white interviewers. Black interviewers produced higher non-response rates with white respondents than did white interviewers. The more the interviewer and the respondent had in common, the greater the cooperation and the better the quality of the data.5.
Thus, to the extent possible, interviewers should be selected to match respondents characteristics, The job requirements will also vary with the nature of the problem and the type of data-collection method. However, there are some general qualifications that fieldworkers need:
• Healthy. Fieldwork can be strenuous and the workers must have the stamina required to do the job.
• Outgoing. The interviewers should be able to establish rapport with the respondents, They should be able to relate to strangers.
• Communicative. Effective speaking and listening skills are a great asset.
• Pleasant appearance. If the fieldworker’s physical appearance is unpleasant or unusual the data collected may be biased.
• Educated. Interviewers must have good reading and writing skills. A majority of fieldwork agencies require a high school education and many prefer some college education.
• Experienced. Experienced interviewers are likely to do a better job in following instructions, obtaining respondent cooperation, and conducting the interview.
Your Experience Counts
Research has found the following effects of interviewer experience on the interviewing process.
• Inexperienced interviewers are more likely to commit coding errors, to mis-record responses, and to fail to probe.
• Inexperienced interviewers have a particularly difficult time filling quotas of respondents.
• Inexperienced interviewers have larger refusal rates. They also accept more “don’t know” responses and refusals to answer individual questions.”
Fieldworkers are generally paid an hourly rate or on a per-interview basis. The typical interviewer is a married woman age 35 to 54, with an above-average education and an above-average household income.
Training of Fieldworkers
Training of field workers is critical to the quality of data collected. Training may be conducted in person at central location or, if the interviewers are geographically dispersed, by mail, video-conferencing, or by using the Internet. Training ensures that all interviewers administer the questionnaire in the same manner so that the data can be collected uniformly. Training should cover making the initial contact, asking the questions, probing, recording the answers, and terminating the interview,”
Making the Initial Contact
The initial contact can result in cooperation or the loss of potential respondents,” Interviewers should be trained to make opening remarks that will convince potential respondents that their participation is important.
Initial Contact Statement
Hello, my name is _____ represent the Marketing Department of Georgia Tech. We are conducting a survey about household preferences for department stores. You are one of the select groups of respondents who have been scientifically chosen to participate in this survey. We highly value your opinion and would like to ask you a few questions.
Note that the interviewer did not specifically ask the respondent’s permission. Questions that directly ask permission, such as “May I have some of your valuable time?” or “Would you like to answer a few questions?” should be avoided. Interviewers should also be instructed on handling objections and refusals. For example, if the respondent says, “This is not a convenient time for me,” the interviewer should respond, “What would be a more convenient time for you? I will call back then.” If the foot-in-the-door or door-in-the-face, are being employed, interviewers should be trained accordingly.
Asking the Questions
Even a slight change in the wording, sequence, or manner in which a question is asked can distort its meaning and bias the response, Asking questions is an art, Training in asking questions can yield high dividends In eliminating potential sources of bias. Changing the phrasing or order of questions during the interview can make significant differences in the response obtained, While we could be faulted for not writing as perfect a questionnaire as we possibly could, still it must be asked in the exact way it was written, It’s a challenge for us to try to get the interviewers more conversational, but despite this, the field force absolutely must ask questions as they are written, The following are guidelines for asking questions.
1. Be thoroughly familiar with the questionnaire.
2. Ask the questions in the order in which they appear in the questionnaire.
3. Use the exact wording given in the questionnaire.
4. Read each question slowly.
5. Repeat questions that are not understood.
6. Ask every applicable question.
7. Follow instructions and skip patterns, probing carefully.
Probing is intended to motivate respondents to enlarge on, clarify, or explain their answers, Probing also helps respondents focus on the specific content of the interview and provide only relevant information. Probing should not introduce any bias. Some commonly used probing techniques follow: 12
1. Repeating the question. Repeating the question in the same words can be effective in eliciting a response.
2. Repeating the respondent’s reply. Respondents can be stimulated to provide further comments by repeating their replies verbatim. This can be done as the interviewer records the replies.
3. Using a pause or silent probe. A silent probe, or an expectant pause or look. can cue the respondent to provide a more complete response. However, the silence should not become embarrassing.
4. Boosting or reassuring the respondent. If the respondent hesitates. the interviewer should reassure the respondent with comments like, “There are no right or wrong answers, We are just trying to get your opinions: If the respondent needs an explanation of a word or phrase, the interviewer should not offer an interpretation. Rather, the responsibility for the interpretation should be returned to the respondent. This can be done with a comment such as, “Just whatever it means to you.”
5, Eliciting clarification. The respondent’s motivation to cooperate with the interviewer and provide complete answers can be aroused with a question like, “I don’t quite understand what you mean by that-could you please tell me a little more?” 6. Using objective/neutral questions or comments. Some common questions or comments used as probes and the corresponding abbreviations are: Any other reason? (AO?), Anything else? (AE or Else?), What do you mean? (What mean?), and Why do you feel that way? The interviewer should record the abbreviations on the questionnaire in parentheses next to the question asked.
Recording the Answers
Although recording respondent answers seems simple, several mistakes are common, All interviewers should use the same format and conventions to record the interviews and edit completed interviews, The rules for recording answers to structured questions vary with each specific questionnaire, but the general rule is to check the box that reflects the respondent’s Answer, The general rule for recording answers to unstructured questions is to record the responses verbatim. The Interviewer’s Manual of the Survey Research Center provides the following specific guidelines for recording answers to unstructured questions.
1. Record responses during the interview.
2. Use the respondent’s own words.
3. Do not summarize or paraphrase the respondent’s answers.
4. Include everything that certains to the question objectives.
5. Include all probes and comments.
6, Repeat the response as it is written down.
Terminating the Interview
The interview should not be closed before all the information is obtained, Any spontaneous comments the respondent offers after all the formal questions have been asked should K recorded, The interviewer should answer the respondent’s questions about the project. The respondent should be left with a positive feeling about the interview, It is important to thank the respondent and express appreciation.
The Centers for Disease Control Training
The Centers Tor Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has conducted the state-based Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the largest continuously conducted telephone health survey in the world, This survey has collected data on risk behaviors and preventive health practices every month since 1984_Fieldworkers who are trained in their respective states administer these standardized questionnaires.The CDC-receives health data on hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, and drinking behaviors from individual states and publishes a report every year.To increase standardization the training of fieldworkers and data collection, the CDC implemented a computer-assisted telephone interviewing(CATI) system,
The CDC understands that its field interviewers are the only link between the survey participants and the researchers conducting the survey. The CDC therefore requires states to spend a lot of time and effort training its interviewers. In training, an effort is made to ensure that the interviewer.
• Understands the nature and content of the questions
• Understands how to record responses. code questionnaires. and edit interviews
• Ensures respondents’ confidentiality
• Ensures that the correct respondents are interviewed
• Records a true picture
• Executes the work clearly and accurately
• Is prepared to deal with problem situations that may arise during interviews
• Is persuasive and minimizes the number of selected households and respondents who refuse to participate
• Makes quality a priority in all aspects of interviewing
• Is courteous and friendly
• Strives for maximum efficiency without sacrificing quality
With the nature of the BRFSS. interviewers must also sign a confidentiality agreement. Respondents are sometimes concerned about confidentiality of their health information. Measures are taken to eliminate the possibility of ever identifying the specific person who has taken a survey. For instance. the last two digits of the telephone number are deleted in the final survey results. Interviewers are trained to relay this information to people who are concerned when they call them.
Other training procedures are useful in obtaining valid responses for the questionnaire and for being courteous to the participants, The table summarizes the tips for telephone interviewing that CDC uses as part of its training program, This extensive training is vital to providing the accurate information the CDC needs for its analysis of locally relevant data on risk behaviors and preventive health practices, The data are used in a variety of ways by states and health agencies for planning. implementing and measuring the progress of their risk-reduction programs. and for developing appropriate policies and legislation.
Tips for Telephone Interviewing
Be courteous and polite.
Do not sound bored.
Sound interested in the responses.
Put a smile in your voice.
PROBING AND CLARIFICATION
Probe, for accurate information.
Know when to probe.
Use neutral probes.
ENUNCIATION OF QUESTIONNAIRE
HANDLING DIFFICULT RESPONDENTS
Alleviate confidentiality concerns.
Encourage responses from reluctant respondents.
Alleviate concerns about length of interview.
GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE BRFSS
Rscognize need for data quality.
Know survey objectives.
Know rationale for the questions.
Read questions verbatim.
Verify telephone number,
Follow skip patt~ms smoothly.
Go from intrcductio : to questions smoothly.
Close interview srneothly,
Make appointments properly
Provide neutral feedback.