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Attitude and ethics
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When we think about the way we analyze a problem, we also think about the orientation of our efforts. Beware to the one who is overconfident! He might venture toward seemingly known paths, without even realizing he lost its way. This demonstrate all the importance of the attitude we adopt toward a problem.

It is also important to think about our ethics. The orientation of our efforts can be considered as the precision we put to accurately describe the reality. The ethics is the care we take to respect the privacy of those who gives us information .

What those issues have in common ? In both cases, we must be careful about each aspect of a research. It is why this topic will also deal with general methodology issues.

Your webmaster : Frédéric D'Astous

List of articles within Attitude and ethics

Keeping your objectivity What is the role of objectivity when you decide to carry out a survey ?

Looking at a problem Many of those who want to do a survey, have in mind something that can be called : exploratory study. This can give an enormous quantity of information, often very useful. But it can be tricky.

Protection of privacy To carry out a survey we have to ask for information related to personal matters. Usually, the confidentiality of all answers is part of the expectations even when the requested information is trivial.

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Keeping your objectivity

When you decide to carry out a survey, objectivity is one of the keys which should not be lost. The french dictionary Larousse defines objectivity by specifying that it is the quality of whom: "can disregard its personal preferences." Those preferences are all the small things which make our ideas, our opinions, seemingly self-evident.

Those things can cause several undesirable consequences. For example, if you use, for a question, a choice of answers, it may be possible that your choice do not take into account the vision of your customers. This can happen when you ask how customers learned the existence of the store (or the organization). For the owner of a store, the moment when people learned its existence is very significant. For the customer ? He might even not remember when he saw your store for the first time. So, the answers will likely be evasive, even unusable.

To keep your objectivity, you must use some strategies. The goal is to try to be closer to the point of view of those you wish to interview. It might be difficult since your research still remains to be done. Then, you might not know, exactly, to what you should be closer. To solve this problem it is useful to ask yourself some questions like :

Finally, you must not forget that for several people, it is easy to overlook details that seems important from your own point of view. Often, someone will notices things only if a problem arises. Thus, the new decoration of your store can easily be ignored, even if you observed a real effect (like clients coming back much often). So be careful of how you analyze comments related to what seems obvious to you.

The webmaster : Frédéric D'Astous.

Looking at a problem

Many of those who want to do a survey, have in mind something that can be called : exploratory study. This can give an enormous quantity of information, often very useful. But, this approach can also complicate the life of those who tries such exercise. Here are some aspects to be kept in mind.

First, identify the goal.

Each time you wish to explore a problem, it means you be begin an adventure. As in any voyage, it is necessary to target a priority. It is this priority that will ensure you that everything will be coherent. Thus, it is important to give you only one priority. The identification of more than one priority is to be avoided! That can camouflage the "woolliness" of your project. In such case, going further can be the same as walking in a mined field . You can never know when everything will blow into your face, while you carry out the analysis.

In a second phase, organize the gathering of information.

An exploratory study is often attractive because of the great amount of information that it enables us to reveal. This advantage can however become a nightmare. Without being properly organized, the information gathered is, sometimes, barely usable. To organize the research, it will be useful :

Do not forget that the main quality of an exploratory research is the access to a gold mine of information. It is you who have to plan how to use the asset resulting from your survey. That can make all the difference between a gold mine and quick sands where each effort will bury you deeper and deeper ...

Have a good survey !

The webmaster : Frédéric D'Astous.

Protection of privacy

To carry out a survey (or all other types of research), we often have to ask to people to give information related to personal matters. Usually, the confidentiality of all answers is part of the expectations of those who will answer. But, this concern should be an important issue, even when the requested information is trivial.

For all these reasons, the researcher must use a method of data processing that will prevent individuals from being identifiable. To simply say that we will not divulge any name is not sufficient. There is always some probabilities of an information leakage. In the worst cases, people with whom the researcher have a contract, might want to gain some "extras" by trying to makes us broke our rules of confidentiality.

The researcher must then protect himself and protect its information. To have concrete assurances of confidentiality, various strategies about the management of data can be taken.

When you do a survey, it is useful to break any link between the list of those who are part of our sample from those who will actually answer our questionnaire. The goal is to render impossible to find the name of any individual who filled such or such questionnaire. To use numbers on questionnaires is not sufficient. If there is a possibility to know that the questionnaire "X" was filled out by the person number 24, a simple glance at the list and the confidentiality is broken. For more security, the use of numbers on the questionnaires (for compilation) can be made after all the answers are gathered.

When you proceed with recorded interviews, we can use only a small quantity of tapes. Thus, once the grid of interview is filled and checked with the help of the recording, the elements likely to identify the respondent will disappear. The tapes can be re-used at regular intervals. That will ensure the success of the procedure of confidentiality. At the end, it will only remain to erase the tapes of the very last interviews to avoid any risk.

You should never underestimate the risks related to probabilities of information leakage. Only a well defined methodology can be a true insurance.

The webmaster: Frédéric D'Astous

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