Protocols and Procedures

Generally Accepted Industry Protocols and Procedures

by Anndel Martin, President of Opinions Unlimited

I am a former president of national MRA, former secretary of CMOR, and QRCA member. The past  25+ years as a qualitative researcher and facility owner give me a good (not perfect!) vantage point about the issues related to the success or failure of qualitative research projects. I invite you to share your perspective – this is a work in progress!

At Project Initiation and During the Recruiting Phase

Communication. Please document specifications and changes in writing; and, respond to calls and questions as quickly as possible. Touch base with your Opinions’ project manager every day or two if possible.

Reporting. Respondent Profiles are emailed daily to the designated contact. Please take time to review them to avoid last-minute surprises or to discover that a question is not identifying the intended target.

Over-Recruiting. It is industry standard to recruit more participants than the number to be seated. We know the show rates in our markets and respectfully request that you specify the number of shows you require, and we will recommend the number to recruit to ensure the goal is met. See Adjustment for low show rates.

At the Facility and Beyond

Moderator and Observers. Please provide the names of the research team so we can properly check everyone in and direct them to the proper suite. Please remind clients: stay in their designated areas, do not wear or carry company logo items, do not discuss the research in the elevators or restrooms, and guard the identity of respondents.

Security. All staff and sub-contractors sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. We can secure your suite and materials for multi-day projects.

Respondents. We can flag respondents “do not use” who misrepresent themselves, have behaved badly, do not contribute to the session, or  indicate frequent participation.  Your feedback on respondents is appreciated. We do track problem respondents specifically to avoid these types of issues.

Respondent Identity Verification. For consumer studies, we  verify respondents’ identities, we do check Identification of all respondents, both driver licenses and or state issued identification.

Respondent Re-Screening. Please advise prior to arrival if you wish to have respondents rescreened so we can staff appropriately. Best Practice: re-screeners to be self-administered and questions should match the original screener wording. The original screener may have answered a week prior to the session and it is not uncommon for respondents’ answers to vary, especially on usage type questions.

 “Qualified Show”. We define a qualified show as a respondent who is qualified according to the questions in the screener and arrives no later than 10 minutes after the specified start time. We enjoy excellent show rates and high Impulse Ratings, and we go out of our way to make it right if your study is affected. Clients are not charged incentive or recruiting fee for respondents who do not qualify.. 

Payment of Late Arrivals. Our Policy: the client is responsible for paying 100% of incentive fee to all qualified respondents who arrive within ten minutes of the session start time, whether or not they participate. To warrant  payment, we hold late arrivals for 30 minutes as back-ups for the research.

Adjustments. There are a few considerations and options related to low shows (see Recruiting above). 1)  No charge for no-shows (always) 2) If fewer than 60% show, we also discount the facility fee proportionately. If a make-up session is desired, the client is responsible for all incentives involved, and Opinions will provide facility. Recruiting replacement and rescheduling varies depending on the situation.

Recruiting from Client Lists.  Client-provided or purchased lists seldom yield the expected incidence of qualified respondents and almost always experience more last minute cancellations or no shows. On high value studies, we recommend the sponsor of the research. You must clarify whether recruiting is to be aided or restricted to the list . There is no discount for low shows.  Culling a client’s list is called “list cleaning” (which is a service) and will incur extra charges.

Products & Materials Handling, Storage or Disposal. Extra fees apply and advance notice is required.  We also offer a safe and secure shredding service for sensitive documentation.

Dispute Resolution. Of course we strive to be great!  However, in the event of an irreconcilable dispute, arbitration will be next step. 

Limits of Liability.  While failures are rare. Opinions Unlimited does limit its liability to cover the fees we might have charged for the specific failure.

Responsibilities for Protecting the Respondent

Respondent Privacy. It is industry practice to protect the identity of research participants. We assure participants that their identity will not be used for purposes outside the scope of the research without their consent.

Re-contacting Participants and Database Use. Before re-contacting a participant for any reason, permission in writing must be secured from owner of the database.

Respondent Bill of Rights.  Opinions Unlimited abides by the MRA Respondent Bill of Rights.


Updated: February 2013