If you want to commission or run an online diary qualitative research study, here is a brief overview of how they work.
Either you or we can recruit the participants. There are various methods, including traditional focus group recruiters, through to online access panels. Before recruitment can take place a recruitment spec will need to be prepared. This is to give details of the research, in terms of what is required of participants, how frequently they will be expected to post diary entries, how long the research will continue for, what incentive will be offered, and so on.
In addition, the recruitment manager will need to know the specification of the participants to be recruited. In other words, this would include demographic details such as age and gender, as well as any other qualifying criteria.
The first stage of a diary will be registration of the participants. This means the process of them each getting a username and password, so that they can log into the diary software. Usually participants will choose their own username and password, rather than have one given to them. This is because they are then less likely to forget them than if the researcher chose them.
This is the running of the diary research. It involves emailing the participants at regular intervals, from within the diary software. This is to prompt and remind people to post their entries, or to ask them to elaborate on previous entries that they may have made.
Diary entries could be made in the form of written posts, but may also include image, or even video, uploads.
Participants will need to be recompensed for the time they spend taking part in the diary research. The more they are being asked to do, the greater the incentive will need to be. It can be a good idea to pay the incentive at the end of the research, rather than at different stages, in order to encourage participants not to drop out early.
One of the advantages of using dedicated diary software is that all the results will be available immediately, and can be downloaded for analysis.