The Art of Appreciating Your Online Qualitative Research Participants

When was the last time you thought about how much you appreciate your online qualitative research participants? It’s OK, it’s a common mistake, according to Judithe Andre of Carrboro, N.C.-based Verbal Clue Research, who wrote on the topic for the November issue of Quirk’s (login required). Just like employers have to show appreciation for their workers on a regular basis, she argues that it’s equally important for researchers to show appreciation toward their participants. Yes, you’re paying them (maybe), but it pays even more (read: better insight) when they know they’re appreciated.

Judithe’s article covers appreciation tactics for in-person interviews, but the same rules apply for a bulletin board focus group or other online qualitative research project. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of her tips. They’re mostly common sense, but can serve as a great reminder for your next project:

  • When recruiting, offer potential participants thanks for their time and consideration, whether they qualify for the study or not.
  • Judithe suggests starting each project by recognizing the people you are interviewing. “To do this, give them a chance to tell you a little bit about themselves, their business or practice.” Not only does this show them they’re appreciated, it’s also an easy way to get the conversation started.
  • This is definitely a no-brainer, but Judithe underscores the importance of using appropriate titles when addressing participants (ask for clarification, if needed).

What would you add to this list? Please share your ideas in the comments below. And check out ways to increase bulletin board focus group engagement in the Resources section at

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