Academic Experience

What you need to know when selecting an academic research platform

Andrew Coffman // August 13, 2019 // 5 min read

While industries and geographies are at different stages of economic maturity there is a consistent driver moving each forward - academic research.

Academic research is an essential component to all breakthrough innovations. Think about it for a minute. Research by academics is responsible for advancements in healthcare. Studies by financial experts provide frameworks for global economies. And university-led reports around population growth are helping build and develop settlements that meet the needs of rapidly growing communities.

Carrying out research is good for business too. A study by Deloitte in New Zealand found the contribution of higher education research in the country accounted for 8.9% of total GDP in 2017. This represents a return on investment of more than 500%.

Despite the value of academic research to all aspects of society, academics face a number of challenges impacting their work and its progress.

First and foremost researchers need to secure funding for their work, such as from government departments or private enterprises. Many are time poor due to other commitments, which limits their ability to undertake and design their studies. Finally, in today’s online world researchers need to ensure the data they are collecting is stored securely, that it’s been generated by a human, and that responses are in a consistent form.

Choosing the right research platform is critical to the success of academics. When selecting the platform that best suits their needs, researchers need to ask the following questions:

  • Can it provide a robust sample? - It seems obvious, but the chosen platform must be able to capture insights from the target audience. This might be a certain age group, patients that have been treated a certain way, or a pool of executives. At Qualtrics, we’re proud of the fact we can draw upon insights from a global panel of 100 million+.
  • Is it easy to use? - As the world around us advances technologically, the type of research being completed and the way responses are captured is changing. Research platforms must therefore offer rich functionalities, such as allowing respondents to reply from various platforms and enabling analysis of open and closed text responses. Platforms also need to be simple to use and manage, with findings presented in an easy-to-understand way.
  • Does it use machine learning and artificial intelligence? - Being able to automate actions and panel engagements based on responses enables researchers to increase efficiencies, unlock breakthroughs faster, deliver deeper insights, and remove false responses. This is a key advantage for academics under pressure to deliver rapid and comprehensive insights.
  • Will it integrate data from other sources? - Data triangulation is a critical part of the research process as it validates the insights uncovered. Being able to do this through a single platform simplifies this process for academics, while viewing all data on a single platform can also help identify trends and patterns they might not have seen otherwise.
  • How long does it take to deliver results? - Speed of insights is fundamental to any research project. The goal of any research platform should be to help researchers make better, data-driven decisions. As such, academics need to prioritize platforms delivering real-time results.
  • What security and governance is supplied? - With researchers often handling sensitive data, the platforms need to be secure and compliant with local regulations. Platforms that have gained the required security credentials and which adhere in the correct manner should always be at the top of the list.
  • Which methodologies are used? - Survey design is a key part of the research process, but often overlooked. This means the outcomes are not as strong as they might have been. Good research vendors will partner with academics on designing and building the project, ensuring platforms use intelligent methodologies, are free of potential issues before launching, and are personalized to increase the quality of responses.

The world around us is changing faster than it ever has before. In the last year alone NASA landed the most sophisticated spacecraft ever on Mars. A robot ran for mayor in Tokyo. And MIT developed the first self-driving car able to navigate unmapped roads. Research by academics was central to each and every one of those, along with thousands of other breakthroughs.

To keep pace with the change - which is accelerating - researchers require modern platforms and services helping capture, uncover, and analyze the robust insights they need.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you carry out breakthrough research.

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Andrew Coffman

Andrew Coffman is a contributor to the Qualtrics blog.

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