Preparing for social science research studies is itself a science.
While Our Method describes the scientific process by which we work, we apply seven practices to ensure the high quality result that our collaborators expect.
Each SoundRocket project involves an ongoing thorough review across these seven areas of practice. These practices carry the depth of decades of scientific method that has gone into their formation. When implemented, projects succeed.
More important than what the practices are is how they are implemented. Every SoundRocket employee is empowered to review and question the quality of our product/service - including the ability to step forward and raise a concern prior to study launch. We all share responsibility for the successes and failures together.
The SoundRocket Seven Practices
We build collaborative working relationship with all research teams. This collaboration is at the heart of our service and is the basis for understanding more deeply the goals and trade-offs required to execute a quality study. We make sure that we share a common ground and understanding with our collaborators before proceeding with any study. We practice transparency and our collaborators also have a voice at the table prior to any study launch.
The focus of our industry is to generate data - however, too often it is overlooked by many. We emphasize data early, and our collaborations become about achieving specified data goals. Data expectations are addressed, and data is reviewed at strategic steps in the development of a study. Specifically, the first testing of any data collection instrument is in looking at the data generated. Data checks continue up to, through, and during data collection.
THREE: Study MethodologY
No SoundRocket study is prepared without the review of a methodologist. With a known data outcome defined, the study methodology must be able to meet the data goals, with trade-offs communicated and determined purposefully. Study Methodology is the heart of our science and keeps our focus on the reduction of survey errors (sampling, measurement, coverage, non-response).
The questions and answers included in a social science research study are the common tools by which researchers measure many elements of human behavior. Today, this also includes any other mechanism by which we capture data from humans -- from mobile geolocation data to innovative Bluetooth bio-collection devices -- a great questionnaire spans multiple modes of collection. At the heart of every questionnaire is a well documented questionnaire specification, which serves as a platform for other practices described below.
FIVE: HUMAN SUBJECTS
SoundRocket does not simply look to satisfy external Human Subjects Committees (a.k.a. Institutional Review Boards, Ethics Committees, etc.), as such committees are not always required for every study in which we are involved. We always treat all research subjects as if they were our own close family members. We refuse to participate in any non-ethical research or anything that leads to unnecessary harm to respondents, regardless of who has given permission for the research to be completed. Where appropriate, we seek and acquire necessary approvals for our studies.
SIX: SAMPLE MANAGEMENT
Sample Management covers the practices we use to bridge the communication gap between the researcher(s) and the study participants. This includes respondent communications, effective scheduling of study tasks, and ongoing data collection support. A solid sample management plan provides a platform on which the science can be implemented - especially today where study implementations are changing live with responsive study designs.
Programming is where social science meets computer science, and SoundRocket has developed the art of communication between these two paradigms. Programming often includes traditional computer instructions for web-based surveys (or similar), however, we also include any methodology where we take the questionnaire and put it into the final form for respondents in this area of practice. (For example, we approach the development of a mail survey very similarly as we do a web-based survey.) Programming is often employed in the implementation of a study methodology, and often requires communication with a sample management system. We practice industry (computer science, print, and research) standards in this area of our work.