IT as a strategy to manage the process of quantitative research
In this paper the process of large-scale quantitative research is examined with the aim of finding ways to reduce costs and improve quality. The paper focuses on the role IT plays in fieldwork preparation, fieldwork management, data collection and analysis. These activities usually require most effort in terms of time and manpower and are critical for the quality of the output of the process. The Brand Power Experience study is used as a "worst case" to illustrate the way NIPO uses IT in these stages. The case is chosen for it's extremity: in an international face-to- face survey, carried out in tens of countries all over the world, more than 1.000 brands per country were tested for awareness, image, and many more aspects. NIPO carried out fieldwork in the Netherlands and was the only participant using CAPI. As opposed to many participants, NIPO's standard procedure appeared to hold out very well. During the exploration NIPO's information processing strategies (standardization, decentralisation and information systems) are discussed. Especially the benefits of electronic information systems become clear. Besides the known methodological advantages and high data quality they offer, they improve communication between research, service and fieldwork departments. Better integration opens up possibilities for a more efficient research process. An investigation into the profits and costs of NIPO's research systems shows that the return on investment in information technology can be considerable. Finally new challenges for information technology are identified, which are currently being evaluated by NIPO. These challenges relate to systems for paying out and checking interviewers, fieldwork management and using audio and video in face-to-face interviews.
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