Lesson 2: Put Everything in Writing

Putting everything in writing is not taking the approach the way one would if it were looked at from a legal point of view. This lesson is to be a good steward of the process of being a researcher and I believe it includes the following steps depending on the project:

1. After the first client meeting send a recap of the discussion to make sure all are on the same page – keep to 1-2 pages – use bullet points stemming from this original sentence: This memo is my understanding of the key points of what we discussed recently.   

2.Write a “proposal” to the key decision-maker on the project and to the project team. The proposal should recap these elements:

  • Purpose of the study
  • Planned methodology; recruiting specs, sites, timeline
  • Research themes to be discussed
  • Type of report planned
  • Cost estimate; state what is and what is not included

3.Write a universal moderator’s guide where everything is outlined and could be used by someone else should you not be able to lead the discussion because of unexpected circumstances. This forces the moderator to really think through the flow of the group, what interventions will be employed, how time will be used, what won’t be included, etc.

4.Write a “change of scope” memo every time something major changes on a project [e.g., city sites, recruiting changes, shift in stimuli to be shown, role of client in the research process, etc.]

5.Write an outline of planned report to send to the client and verify buy-in from the end user before starting the actual report.

6.Write final memo to the end user thanking them for the opportunity to provide research services. This is usually done when the final report or invoice is sent to the client.

In RIVA’s history, there have been many occasions where the only written documents from the client have been the deposit and final checks!   Other clients send “briefs”, “statements of objectives”, “sample guides”, “sample reports.” and a few clients send all those things.

In September of 2012, RIVA is hosting a two day conference entitled “The RIVA Revue”. This will be an opportunity for participants from all walks of the research community: in house and freelance moderators, buyers of qualitative services, teachers of market research, et al, to join together to polish skills through workshops and presentations from Master Moderators.  One showcase event at “The RIVA Revue” is a Panel of Clients from Fortune 500 companies who contract the services of qualitative researchers.  One of the things they will discuss is how wonderful it is to work with a research vendors who “Put Everything in Writing!”  For more information about the RIVA Revue please go to the conference website:

The final point on “Put Everything in Writing” means there is a written platform on which to stand at every phase of the project study and a good reference source for future review when that project is completed.



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