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Seekers of Truth: Managing Sample Quality

The turn of the past decade into the 2020s has brought about anything but 20/20 vision. Amidst global instability, inflation, a pandemic, and AI breakthroughs, now more than ever, clear vision has been in short supply.

As market researchers, it is our job to find such clear vision. Unfortunately, the future has a way of bringing about new obstacles in that pursuit of clarity. Like in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, we are Seekers of the golden snitch, and like the truth, the snitch is out to evade us. But the snitch can be caught, despite all of its dodges and feints.

Data is the raw material of our analysis. Data is messy, unfiltered, and in nearly all cases entirely unproductive on its own. Our job is to shape that data into a legible format for our tools to read, consolidate, cut, turn, and ultimately mold into a story. A story is the refined product we create that can inform a clear business decision.

The Advantage Research team devotes a lot of time and attention to the quality of our raw data, because every upstream effect of our process is impacted by it. Garbage in, garbage out!

The proliferation of more intelligent AI and increasingly resourceful abusers is an issue that every single seeker of truth grapples with. We must apply an appropriate lens of skepticism to any bit of information presented to us. We need to be able to trust the stories we read if our actions are made in light of them.

For us as researchers, this process is both technical and practical. On the technical end, it looks like writing survey scripts to validate internal response integrity, and disqualify any suspect answers past a predetermined quality threshold. On the practical, more human side, it looks like reading every single open-ended comment carefully and evaluating whether it’s answering the question authentically.

It looks like reevaluating what constitutes a well-written questionnaire - The more ‘human’ the questions, the more likely we’ll retrieve data that is an accurate representation of the real, human motions of the market. The more a questionnaire reads like a checklist for a robot to answer, the easier it is to get gamed into thinking your data represents any nugget of truth when it most likely does not.

It is tempting to say that the unique challenges of this era are new and unprecedented, but ensuring data quality has been an age-old industry challenge. It merely assumes a new form in light of technological change, and it is up to us to stay aware of those new forms so we can continue to deliver great results to our clients. It might sound crazy, but we genuinely enjoy playing the game, trying to trap bad data at the source and filtering it out before it ever hits our analyst's desk.

If clarity of vision is what you seek amidst the cloudy ambiguity of the future, you need the tools to identify which information should inform action, and which information is undeserving of your attention. Call us today to get the conversation started about your business goals, and we’ll get you data you can trust!


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