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  • Tracy Angus-Hammond

Most underrated ways to improve the quality of your qualitative data

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

1) Bring projective techniques into the 21st century. It is time to move past the word association, collages and party guest techniques. That doesn’t mean we stop with the projective and enabling techniques, it just means we need to shake them up a little. Use technology: tap into today’s communication platforms and habits and always carefully consider your respondent profile. You could do mobile ethnographies, get respondents to create social media accounts for brands, ask respondents to bring an item relating to the research, request that they dress for a certain event, to represent a specific brand etc. and hey, even use virtual reality. 2) Use technology, yes even in qualitative research. New platforms allow the reaching of new people. And technology can help automate data collection and data processing (e.g. transcription), and so providing a more consistent and standardized approach. We’ve used WhatsApp to conduct 3-month long MROCs (Market Research Online Communities) in Northern Nigeria with women who may not leave the home without their husbands but can talk on their phones. We also use WhatsApp to transcribe the interviews, massively cutting the cost and time usually required. 3) Build a rapport with respondents, and that doesn’t just mean a ‘please introduce yourself’ at the beginning of the group. It is worth spending 10 minutes of the time helping the respondents relax, proving you are easy to talk to and that you relate to them. So if you are interviewing a bunch of people from Soweto it is useful to know that the two big soccer teams are Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates, and most Sowetans are strongly one or the other. Revealing your own preference, doing the symbolic pose and then teasing any supporters of the other team is a great example of building rapport with a specific group. This completely changes the dynamic in the room and helps improve the quality of data right from the start. Do your research and be sure not to end up attempting to build rapport with some awkward ice breaker game. What are you doing to up your qual game? Got any cool projective techniques to share?

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