online journaling

Making the Case for Smaller Research Projects (and How Online Research Software Can Help)

“The best way to succeed wasn’t just swinging big and hoping for that one big hit, but by swinging smart and creating momentum through small victories.”

Yesterday was Christmas morning for baseball fans (read: Opening Day), so I can understand the baseball reference in Sean Holbert’s latest post on KL Communications’ IC2 Insights Blog. Not only that, when applied to qualitative research, it’s actually a great analogy.

He’s talking about no longer using a one-methodology-fits-all approach to qualitative research, but using the full spectrum of new research tools that are available to us and making several smaller project out of them. He points to online communities, crowdsourcing and social media analysis as a few of these new tools, but the same argument could be made for mobile qualitative research, online journaling and other online qualitative research solutions. With these tools, he says, “we can truly match each objective to its best methodology. Not only does the smaller scope of each study provide true insights through context, but it also often helps to reduce the cost per study, making it easier to efficiently manage budget.”

He calls this an iterative approach to research and says the benefits go beyond budget: “By conducting more studies with a tighter focus, we’re able to create a more adaptable research model,” he says. “It allows us to avoid drowning in data and instead, to truly act on each valuable insight we find. It will provide us with greater depth and context in our learning, which is vital. Without context, insight is just a data point.”

Easier on the budget and better insight? Pardon the baseball reference, but that sounds like a home run to me!

Real-World Ways to Use Online Journaling

The beauty of online journaling is the ability to follow a participant’s interactions, thoughts and feelings over a period of time. There are many, many uses, including these unique ones that some of our clients have used with QualJournal, our easy-to-use, flexible and cost-effective online journaling platform.

Product Testing: One client, a diaper company, used online journaling to compare the day-to-day use of two different products. One week, moms were asked to journal their experience using one diaper; the next week, they switched to the different diaper. What the client got was rich feedback, including images showing how the diapers stood up to wear.

Exploratory: In one QualJournal project, participants were asked to keep a ‘sports journal’ split into four categories: watching, listening, reading and talking. Anytime the participant did any of these things related to sports, they would journal about it. In a sense, this method was a “spot ethnography” — an ethnography related to a particular subject at different times.

Check out three more real-word ways to use online journaling in the full article, posted at

A Beginner’s Guide to Online Journaling

When you think about online qualitative research, what comes to mind? Probably a bulletin board focus group or webcam focus group, which are among the most common online tools researchers are utilizing. While these methodologies can provide rich, in-depth data for your clients, there’s another one you should consider adding to your toolbox—online journaling.

What Is Online Journaling?
Online journaling projects most often consist of longer-term, immersive research studies that allow researchers to understand consumer behaviors as they occur. Projects can last a week or longer and generally involve 20-40 participants who use blogs to post their thoughts—and photos and videos—about a particular research topic. They might post once a day for a one-to-two week project or a few times a week for longer projects. Participants answer moderator assignments and respond to stimuli.

In addition to being convenient for the participants, who can log in whenever they’re ready to post something, being online makes the entire process easier for the researchers and clients, as well, as they can log in whenever they’d like to view the responses.

Using Online Research Software
While anyone can set up a free blog using a service like WordPress or TypePad, there are limitations. For starters, blogs aren’t private – even password-protected ones can be accessed publicly. The biggest obstacle is that there’s no easy way to compile the responses from the 20-40 individual blogs. That’s why we created QualJournal, online research software that offers complete security, comprehensive backend reporting and more.

Read more about online journaling and the features of QualJournal at

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