Posted by: Cecily Miniaci
I remember cringing at the thought of a research report. Looking online, checking out books, and interviewing sources made me uneasy. But, as I have learned with many things, practice causes appreciation. Being a college student means you need to become comfortable with doing research. No matter if its secondary or primary, research is a tool you will use the rest of your life.
This semester I have been doing primary research for my public relations capstone class on the topic of civility. I have researched the general public of Des Moines, asking them how they felt about civility and if they think Des Moines is a civil community. Since starting this campaign, I have learned more about research and I have began to appreciate it, rather than dread it.
Here are three tips to help you when conducting primary research:
1. Know your audience
Before starting your research, you must know who you are actually looking at. You need to know their interests, preferences for communication, dislikes, and where to reach them in the community. This helps the overall research process. You can’t assume the senior community is on social media, or will respond to an online survey. You have to tailor your methods to fit the audience.
2. Create a timeline
Creating a timeline will help you in the end, trust me. It may feel silly at first, since methods and tactics could change, but it puts you ahead. Sticking to a timeline will keep you sane once all of the data begins to flow in. You are also more productive breaking it down week by week, rather than one large goal for the month. Working towards getting 80 completed surveys is a lot easier than scrambling to get 400 before the end of the research period. Once again, trust me. Scrambling is not fun, it’s painful.
3. Be patient
If you start to freak out, it’s okay. That’s actually normal when doing research. If things are going completely opposite from how you planned, just be flexible. Don’t get discouraged when response rates are low, or people decline to be interviewed. In the end, there will be interesting data to sift through. You’ll find out information about your public, that no one else knows. You are now the expert.
Have faith and get excited for what you will find out from the research. Once completed, your unique research and data will put you ahead of the rest.
Do you have any other tips when conducting research? Do you prefer doing primary or secondary research and why?
A more detailed breakdown of primary research can be found at Purdue OWL.