Working in the market research field, the Bunker comes across many different reports provided to us by our clients. In most cases, these are past reports they commissioned with a separate vendor and have since made the wise decision to partner with Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) on their upcoming study. We’ve said time and time again on our blog that the final market research report is one of the most, if not the most important piece of the market research process. It’s the only tangible product that you provide your client in a very service-based relationship. Therefore, it’s integral to spend the time on proofing your final report to ensure 100 percent accuracy and not raise any questions in the statistics or the analysis.
With that being said, RMS undergoes a rigorous document-proofing checklist on each draft report before it is sent to our client. We have items on our checklist that cover more simplistic topics such as spelling and grammar but also more advanced checks such as single response questions adding to 100 percent, significance testing notations, and footnotes. We even have a section on our checklist that covers content and editing such as table of contents, page numbers and notations.
Through our past experience working on market research reports, here are a few things we think you should keep your eye on as you review your next market research report provided to you in-house or by your market research vendor:
- Sample sizes for each question are noted for each chart/graph. Most, if not all surveys involve some sort of routing or skip patterns. So you are not always looking at data that is aggregated to the full sample of survey respondents. At least when the sample size is noted you can tell whether it’s 60 percent of people who said “yes” or 60 percent overall, which makes a huge difference in your interpretation.
- Single response or multiple response is noted. This makes a difference as well because the analysis differs when you are analyzing single response versus a question that allows for eight responses. A single response question forces the respondent to choose/answer for just one category.
- Percentage of respondents versus percentage of responses is noted. When coding open-ended responses, sometimes a response will fall into multiple code categories, so one respondent’s answer might actually count as two or more responses in your analysis. When you display data in a situation like this, percentages could differ greatly depending on whether or not they are based on the number of respondents or responses. For example, if you have a total number of 400 and you divide the responses by percentage of respondents, you will divide the count for each response/code by 400. If you divide responses by percentage of responses, you will divide the count for each response/code by the total number of responses/codes.
- Aided versus unaided is noted. This is very important to note for your graph or chart. It allows the reader to know whether the response categories were chosen from a selection by the respondent or if the response categories were driven by open-ended responses. For instance, there is a major difference between 82 percent of respondents who are aware of a hospital aided, versus that same 82 percent who are aware of a hospital unaided (or open-ended).
- ‘Others’ are footnoted. Often overlooked, but often critical. By footnoting ‘others,’ it gives the reader a flavor of what other responses were mentioned outside of the labels on the chart. It’s also good research practice to analyze these responses and possibly add another category to the chart depending on sample sizes. Oftentimes, you’ll find an ‘other’ referenced that can actually be re-coded into a provided category.
These are a few things that RMS recommends you keep an eye out for as you review your next market research report. Do you have any other notations here that are often overlooked by readers? Comment on our post; the Bunker would love to hear them!