The outcome of all research is predicated on the validity of the data obtained during the experiment. When that data is qualitative because it depends on the truthfulness and credibility of the participants’ responses, there’s another level of engagement that becomes necessary. The researcher must work to facilitate trust between the participant and themselves to encourage an honest answer.
Additionally, the information obtained must be based on a valid pool of participants. It’s the researcher’s job to ensure that their data comes from a balanced demographic where everyone that is impacted is included equally. This prevents the data from being skewed in one direction or another.
When these two factors are confidently included, the audience can rely on the results of the research project. The steps and data that brought the researcher to their final analysis and conclusion were determined to be honestly, ethically obtained.
What Happens Without Authenticity
The effects of an invalid study because of a lack of engagement and authenticity create a domino effect of issues. This type of research can go all the way to its conclusion before a peer-review determines the data to have been skewed or biased.
The goal of a researcher is to get their valid results published and out to the public as soon as possible, but this delay causes their experiment to be scrapped entirely or for them to have to start back at the first step and repeat the data collection process.
Worse, if the data is biased or skewed but isn’t caught, public policies can be enacted based on invalid information and findings.
To prevent this from occurring, a good researcher takes the time to engage their participants in a relationship where trust and authenticity are key.
Characteristics of Trustworthiness in Researchers and Participants
Building trust through consistency and action steps is important, but the researcher must then be able to recognize when that goal has been accomplished. There are some consistent characteristics that can be used to determine that the participants are ready for the data collection portion of the project, such as:
● Open communication between the participant and researcher, with a focus on integrity and honesty
● Easy communication in which quality information is exchanged willingly
● Participants are confident in their ability to be vulnerable if necessary and their importance in the study
● Participants are comfortable with the confidentiality of their answers
● The study’s pool is fair: each participant is treated fairly regardless of their disadvantages or demographics
● There is evidence of trust in the system; the participant believes in the institution providing the study and the processes in which the researcher is going about their project
When these characteristics are apparent, the researcher can confidently go about the step of data collection.
Strategies to Build Engagement and Trust
Occasionally, researchers struggle with obtaining that trust and authenticity from their participants. Sometimes it’s a personality clash; other times, the researcher could be unconsciously doing something to prevent the full engagement.
Trustworthy researchers demonstrate caring, both to the validity and importance of their project and to the research participant. If there is an obvious lack of engagement, as a researcher, you should ask yourself if you are emanating the necessary traits, such as:
● Making yourself easily accessible when they have concerns
● Being open to their thoughts without responding in judgmental ways
● Listening to and being understanding of their feelings
● Keeping yourself honest, even with hard answers
● Working at staying at the participant’s level rather than making them feel inferior - this is a common problem between highly educated individuals and those who have less of an education
● Being respectful of everyone’s opinions and beliefs, no matter how much they differ from yours
When the engagement is not there, it’s not always the participants’ fault. As a researcher, you must do your part to facilitate the establishment of trust. This can be done in multiple ways.
First, make sure you’re clear to the participant about your goals and motivations. An upfront approach lets them have the confidence that you’re not hiding anything for a “gotcha!” moment later.
Then, keep consistency with the participants. Provide them with opportunities to engage in the process in small but meaningful ways. Let them meet the stakeholders or their representatives and others in the research community, as well as people who could be impacted by their participation.
Do what you can to close the gap that makes the participants feel like outsiders. This effort may be all it takes to create the engagement and trust you need from your research participants.
When You Have the Data, Share it With Impactio
You’ve done the hard part. You facilitated each step in your project and created a solid foundation of trust and authenticity with your research participants. You collected and analyzed the data and came to a final outcome with the information you observed and processed. Now it’s time to put your research achievements all together with Impactio.
Impactio is an all-in-one platform used by researchers and scholars around the world to compile their work into a professional profile. With Impactio, you can easily transfer your information into one program, dropping text into the right subsections and turning your citation and publication data into charts, tables, and graphs seamlessly.
Impactio moves you beyond the PDF documents and web pages you’ll create and gives you the ability to track your work’s impact after publication and connect with other experts in the Impactio community. Everything you need to make an academic impact is right there for you with Impactio.