OPINION9 July 2010

Keeping interest

With the end in sight, how have our online participants dealt with the bitter blow of a countries exit from the tournament and has this impacted on a willingness to participate?

As the World Cup comes to a close we can reflect on the performance of various countries and the disappointment of an early bath for all but a few.  With such an international hodge podge of participants contributing in our World Cup study, we can turn our attention to the performance of individuals (in participation) and see whether we can draw similarities from respondent involvement and countries performances in the World Cup.  Did the French disintegrate among internal arguing?  Have the Germans continued with usual ruthless efficiency?    Were the Kiwi’s simply happy to be part in a research study that would have been completed via fax machines the last time they were in the World Cup?  Finally, did the English fail to turn up altogether?


As is always the way, there are those who have done more than others. It’s not that some haven’t contributed, more that a few have gone above and beyond what was asked of them.  So how does our current performance chart compare to their country’s standing?  Going by effort and contribution (how I wish matches could be judged in this way as opposed to goals scored) then our semi-finalists would have comprised Greece V Portugal and England v Italy (not even Paul the octopus would have predicted that), with the sad elimination of Mexico, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Germany in the last round.  Proof, if you would, that the performance of a country does not necessarily replicate respondent contribution.


Which brings me onto the question, what is it that really gets respondents engaged with the tasks we ask of them? 


Firstly, variety is the spice of life.  Respondents get out of the research what they put in, so ensuring participation is encouraged is vital.  Our respondents can upload diary notes, send photos and videos, and chat to one another in forums.  Indeed, the active participation of many has created a number of wide ranging forum topics, leading to a sense of self moderation.  Although it could be argued this is to be expected with a sample comprising researchers, it is certainly not the first instance in which this has happened. 


Building a relationship with the respondent also proves fruitful.  The power of online is the ability to view who has done what in real time, meaning that those contributing a lot can be congratulated for their hard work, whilst others can be given a gentle prod to get the input flowing.  Engagement throughout, particularly in a project that falls over a number of weeks, is critical.  In the same way relationships can be built (rightly or wrongly) over protracted ethnographic pieces, so to can they online.  When asking for time and effort to be put in, a greater willingness is seen from respondent’s when hard work is acknowledged. 


Finally, we have to accept that if we want respondents to actively participate in online forums there needs to be a level of commitment from the researcher as well.  Simply sitting back and hoping for the best will quickly lead to stagnation.


As we roll onto the World Cup final which will bring to a close a month of (few) highs and (many) lows I take solace in the fact that our participants are still going strong, proving that there are those in the USA that have a passion for football, that a country’s performance does not necessarily impact on willingness to contribute, and that – unlike the real thing – our research hasn’t seen a complete domination by Europe. 

1 Comment

14 years ago

This is probably the most entertaining piece I have read on Research Live ever. Well done.

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