When did you first find out that people don’t always do as they are instructed? In school, when you found out that some kids didn’t always do their homework? I tell my teenage daughter to put her dirty dishes in the dishwasher and they don’t always get there. I’m happy when they get all the way to the sink! I just read the classic children’s book, The Poky Little Puppy for a great non-profit, the Happy Hope Factory – and the puppies continue to dig under the fence even though they are told not to.
The point is, there is such a thing as human nature, and people don’t always do things the way you want them to. Why am I harping on this? We need to apply this understanding to market research projects. If you have a project that first requires a special piece of homework, and then requires respondents to do different things on different days, realize that they won’t all comply! Our pharma clients realize this – getting people to take their medications as prescribed every day, or worse, several times a day – compliance and persistence – is a major challenge for the industry.
So please take this into account when designing research. If you have a multi-part project, where people have to log in on separate days and answer different questions, realize that they might not do it every day. We insist on compensating them for what they did do (you can’t say they get nothing if they haven’t completed all the pieces, even though you may want to!). Just like if someone worked for you by the hour, if you had 8 hours of work to be done, but they only completed 4 hours, you’d still have to pay them for the 4 hours.
One way to get greater compliance is to offer a bonus if they complete all the pieces – so think about that in the honoraria for the project. For example, if they have 4 15-minute assignments, which we would pay them $25 for each piece, consider offering an additional $25 as a bonus if they complete all four pieces.
And please if at all possible, design the research such that you can use partial data. You don’t want to have a lot of partial data you can’t use! Especially in the rare disease world where each respondent is so hard to recruit.