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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sharon Livingston


Most qualitative researchers are very aware of the types of difficulties which can occur in the front room

  • leading questions,

  • dominating participants who silence the others in the room

  • difficult respondents who sabotage and challenge the moderator

  • bad time management to cover the guide efficiently

However, we tend to pay less attention to the factors in the Back Room which actually can more strongly influence both the quality of research as it’s in progress and more importantly the usefulness of the results and outcomes.

The 'hidden observers' in the Back Room, of course, are able to see more and hear more than those in the discussion room, given their unique perspective (the reason for the mirror in the first place!). In the ideal scenario, the Back Room observers are on hand to enhance, strengthen and supplement the moderator's findings.

That’s why it’s so important to set the stage for the backroom observers to enrich the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of qualitative research.

The problem is that the Back Room is also affected by group dynamics, and therefore, even though it is usually comprised of highly trained researchers, it is still subject to missing key insights and their marketing implications.

Further, the Back Room experience is usually left relatively unstructured.

What you will be learning in this set of articles on Back Room Effectiveness are observations about best practices as well as is a series of techniques and tools to make the most of your qualitative projects whether you’re the Client or the Research agency.

For example, in the next post we will be talking about:

  • when to take notes vs. when to discuss the findings among back room peers,

  • what the difference is between a true 'Aha!' and a simple positive emotional reaction which might not translate to market response,

  • how to listen to the front and back room at the same time,

  • how to supervise the moderator, and if you are the moderator, how to do your preliminary research with your client so you can get them the results they need.

  • how to deal with hidden back room agendas, and more.

We’ll keep you posted and would appreciate your feedback, observations and suggestions

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