Qcast - Evolving the Participant-Researcher Dynamic: Exploring the qualitative research experience through the eyes of a participant

March 2024 Qcast

Evolving the participant-researcher dynamic: Exploring the qualitative research experience through the eyes of a participant

As qualitative researchers, we conduct studies to provide better user experiences, but there is one experience we rarely consider: that of our research participants. We often don't know if and how our research affects participants. They rarely, if ever, see the results of the data we collect nor fully understand how we use it. Even more problematic: We are often underprepared for participants’ past traumas, which our questioning could unintentionally trigger during an interview. 

A human-first approach should be at the core of everything we do. Yet, our relationship with research participants is often transactional, ending after they receive the honorarium.  

In this session, we’ll discuss how this one-sided interaction contradicts human-centered design and blurs the lines of ethical research. Our speakers will draw from knowledge gained through their combined 15+ years of conducting qualitative research studies for Fortune 500 companies to illustrate the necessity of building an ethical, trauma-informed two-way bridge between researchers and participants.  

Our discussion will focus on the whole participant experience: participant motivations for engaging, power dynamics and emotions present during the research session, and what we owe participants after the research session concludes. 

We’ll explore how practitioners can bridge the gap between the researcher and participant experiences by: 

Understanding our participants’ motivations, pain points, and lingering feelings about being in a study is integral to being stewards of ethical research. By examining the participant experience more closely, we evolve as practitioners to turn participant experiences into safe, holistic, human-first spaces.