As an experienced researcher, I run into people all the time that act like they understand research. Here are a few things that make a researcher cringe.

  1. Asking what things were correlated in a qualitative study. Correlation measures the relationship of two variables in a quantitative study (this is the r value–think line of best fit on a scatter plot graph of two variables). In a quantitative study you usually need about 500 participants for the number to be statistically significant. What you really want to ask is: “Did people indicate or did you observe what factors shaped their perspective on x?”
  2. Trying to ask qualitative questions in a quantitative study. Example question, “Do you agree with this definition. Explain what you do or don’t agree with?” When you have complex ideas that people will have complex perspectives on it is better to ask this kind of question in an interview situation than to have a participant try to explain it on a survey.

Here are three tips on sounding like you know what you are talking about related to research:

  1. There are three kinds of research: qualitative (ex: interviews and focus groups), quantitative (ex: surveys) and comparative studies (can be qualitative, quantitative or incorporate both).
  2. There is primary research (usually done by the organization that wants to use the results) and secondary research (industry research that is published and distributed). Some of the well-known secondary research companies are Gartner, Forrester, and IDC.
  3. There are several kinds of research that marketing professionals do: branding, messaging, competitive, product planning/launch/GTM, customer satisfaction, and sales field readiness research are just a few.

What are some research related things you wish you knew more about? What are some things you commonly hear that are wrong?

By Stephanie Vanterpool, Research Director