Data validation and quality assurance is one of the most critical aspects for any Market Research study conducted in India. It is the process of determining to the extent possible, whether a survey’s interviews or observations were conducted correctly and are free of fraud or bias. Most Indian marketing research professionals will target between 10 and 30 percent of completed interviews for “callbacks”.
Specifically for telephone, mail and personal interviews, a certain percentage of respondents from the completed interviews will be contacted again by the research firm to make sure the interview was conducted correctly and there is no bias that has come into the study.
Some of the types of errors in Market Research are random sampling errors, research design errors, Interviewer errors and respondent errors. Random sampling errors are generated if sample size is too small, sample is not representative or Inappropriate sampling method is used. Research design errors are introduced by bias, data analysis problems, sampling frame ill-constructed, population definition misalignment or questionnaire construction problems. Interviewer errors are introduced due to recording errors, cheating errors, questioning errors or respondent selection error.
Respondent errors are introduced due to non-response error, Inability error or falsification error.
One of the validation points that is critical in the Indian Market Research context is to evaluate for fraud. Research executives need to validate if the person was actually interviewed or was the interview falsified. Validation has to be done to understand if the interviewer contact the respondent to get a name and address, and then proceed to fabricate responses. Need to validate if the interviewer use a friend to obtain the necessary information.
To ensure accuracy and relevance of information, most Market Research interviews are carried out using screening criteria such as recent purchase of a specific brand or product or age. Validation has to be conducted to ensure that proper screening criteria were used. Validation call back would ensure that each of the screening criteria has been followed correctly.
In most Marketing Research projects, it is critical that the data has to be collected according to a specific procedure. For e.g. customer exit interviews must happen at a designated place as the respondent leaves the showroom. Validation callback is necessary to ensure that the interview took place in a proper setting as required.
In order to speed through the data collection process, an interviewer may ask the respondent only a few of the requisite questions. To determine if the interview is valid, the researcher could call back a sample of respondents and ask about questions from different parts of the interview form.
Respondents should be treated with courtesy and respect during the interviewing process. To ensure a positive image for the Market Research agency, respondent callbacks are common to determine whether the interview was courteous.
Some respondents may answer a question incorrectly simply because they have a poor memory. The key to avoiding this problem is to steer clear of questions requiring feats of memory. For example, questions such as, "Can you tell me what your crop yield was four years ago?" should be avoided.
There can be a tendency on the part of some respondents to exaggerate claims about their conditions and problems if they think it will further their cause and lead to improvement in their well-being.
If rapport is not developed sufficiently, the respondent may be unwilling to respond or fail to give sufficient attention or consideration to the questions asked, and if the respondent does not understand a question properly he may give inappropriate answers.
During interviews the presence of other individuals is almost inevitable. Most of the time other family members or neighbors will wish to join in the discussion. Such a situation has can have important implications for the type of data obtained. The respondent may be tempted to answer in a way that gives him/her credibility in the eyes of onlookers, rather than giving a truthful reply. Many times respondents fail to answer questions correctly. If rapport is not developed sufficiently, the respondent may be unwilling to respond or fail to give sufficient attention or consideration to the questions asked, and if the respondent does not understand a question properly he may give inappropriate answers. Sometimes respondents get influenced by a group around them during the interview. During interviews the presence of other individuals is almost inevitable. Most of the time other family members or neighbors will wish to join in the discussion. Such a situation has important implications for the type of data obtained. The respondent may be tempted to answer in a way that gives them credibility in the eyes of onlookers, rather than giving a truthful reply. This is especially true in the Indian context because of the social structures and the importance of being accepted by the norms of the group culture.
Many times the interviewer induces bias during the interview. Interviewers fail to follow instructions in administering the questions. It is often tempting for the interviewer to change the wording of a question or introduce inflections in questions. This can affect the respondent's understanding and can bias their replies. Particular problems may arise if the respondent does not understand the question as stated and the interviewer tries to simplify the question. Sometimes the interviewer shows reactions to responses. When respondents give answers, the interviewer must be careful not to react. An expression of surprise or disbelief may easily bias the respondent's subsequent answers. Interviewers must respond with a uniform polite interest only.