This is what I said to Lee. Her original message to me is below what I wrote:
I completely agree with most of what you say. The most important thing about design research and experimentation is knowing the right questions to ask. The idea of the assignment is not just to make you do a survey so that you will have had that experience; the purpose is to generate actual data that can support and feed back into your design thinking as you explore your topic and refine your hypotheses and your proposal. I have a couple of observations:
I think you are right that you are not going to learn anything from surveying the end users, even if you could identify and communicate with them.
I also agree that sending identical questionnaires to people who you are targeting because of their specific technical expertise is silly. In this case, you are not really looking for a consensus, or some statistical measurement; you want specific information to fill in gaps in your knowledge about a complex subject. So, in your case it will make better sense to send your questions directly to people who you believe may have the answers.
I disagree with your prediction of a 1% return rate. Believe me, if you write intelligent questions, and send them to people you identify for their expertise, you will get many responses. I know because I do this all the time, and it works. Also, people contact me out of the blue, and unless they seem to be asking questions for sneaky reasons, or if they have not done their homework, I will happily respond, because I like being asked my opinion, as does everybody. As long as people see that you are not asking them to waste their time helping you to understand things that you could easily find out from Wikipedia and other available sources, there is a very good chance that they will at least answer to say they don't know, which is important information, too. I mean, if you determine that the experts don't know about something, then perhaps you are looking in the wrong place (or maybe you are on to something that no one else has considered yet!).
On Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 4:47 PM, Lee Winfield <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: Hi Steven,
You have responded to my posting regarding the questionnaire and recommended that I form one that would go to the general public and one for specialists. I have a few problems with doing that and I responded to your post, however, you never wrote back.
here are the issues:
- The general public cannot give me any information that could help me in any way.
- Specialists are a few and very busy and i doubt that one percent of the people I will email will reply
- I would like to ask different specialists different questions as they specialize in different things. asking them all the same question would lead to even less responses as it is much less personal and indirect and they would loose patience.
I have a list of questions that I asked the NFP that I met last week, maybe I could consider those as my findings? they are more qualitative than quantitative, though.
I feel that a questionnaire is not suitable in this case, i understand that it is an exercise that you would like us to familiarize ourselves with, but I think it does not make sense in this case.
Thank you, waiting to hear your opinion, Lee Winfield