Why Explicit Responses Aren’t Enough in Today’s Research

December 2, 2019 by Jessica Leigh Brown

We live in the age of big data. It’s a fast-moving, ever-growing ocean of information that can easily overwhelm those who are leading research projects. How do you gain access to the highest quality of data? And once you have it, what will you do with it?

Researchers are well aware that data itself carries no value. Insights spring from the questions you bring to the table. For a survey designer, defining the optimal questions to ask has become the first step toward innovative research.

And today, many researchers realize that participants’ social and cognitive biases greatly impact results—because explicit responses do not represent the whole picture.

Context is King

An accurate understanding of context can significantly augment the predictive power of any statistical pattern discovered in a dataset. Yet context information is often deep, nuanced, and multi-faceted. Historically, it’s been time-consuming and expensive to collect.

Explicit responses cannot capture context. To begin to understand it, you must take your research project to another data dimension—the realm of behavior. That includes assessing participants’ priorities and impulses as they take the survey, which will yield a gold mine of implicit data.

 

Gathering Implicit Data

The most compelling research problems require an innate understanding of the people involved, including their individual hierarchies of needs. And before you can develop a hypothesis, the discovery of what matters most to your research subjects is a process of its own.

Until now, nearly all survey platforms have relied on explicit responses as their only source of information. Paradata is one exception, as it considers the processes used to collect the data. In the days before digital survey platforms, paradata was difficult and expensive to gather, requiring in-person proctors to observe the behavior of survey participants.

But today, Survature simplifies the process. Through collaborations with psychologists and designers, we’ve designed a platform that collects implicit data quickly and painlessly. The secret is our AnswerCloud™, which instantly captures respondents’ interactions with the questions. As they drag and drop from a pool of possible answers, the platform assesses their behavior and takes timing, priorities, and deliberative processes into account.

Jessica Leigh Brown is a writer focused on emerging technologies in education and business. As a freelance journalist, her work has appeared in more than a dozen trade and consumer magazines, and she enjoys working with technology companies to create content such as white papers and case studies.