As we have discussed previously, podcasts are not only a great form of entertainment but can also inspire your storytelling. Storytelling can come more naturally if you have a riveting, emotional story to tell, but as market researchers, a significant part of what we do involves crafting stories around data and numbers. I've come across a podcast that does this quite artfully.
What's the Point? is a weekly podcast, hosted by Jody Avirgan from FiveThirtyEight (an online magazine on a similar topic), that launched in the summer of 2015. The podcast focuses on data's influence on our lives, and is not limited to any topic except data – which truly is behind everything. The show delves into data about elections, military, transportation, and even lighter topics, such as how many people regret their tattoo. They often start the episode with a short blurb called "The Significant Digit" in which they tell a stranger on the street a number and explain why it is important and the context surrounding it.
An episode that I was particularly drawn to, and that is relevant to all types of researchers, is episode 10, "Science is Hard." While this episode is mostly related to academic research, I came away with a few key takeaways that have benefited me on a day-to-day basis as a market researcher:
Manipulating Data aka P-hacking:
What goes into a p-value and what does statistical significance really mean? We have multiple ways of arriving at a significant result, but it is of the utmost importance to really understand how we arrive at results. There is an interactive p-hacking tool on the site here that really drives home the point that it is easy to manipulate data to craft your ideal story. What does this mean for us? As market researchers, we need to keep in mind 2 big things:
- Make sure you understand all factors that went into an analysis/result (ex: respondent criteria, underlying behaviors)
- Constantly ask yourself: what are the ideal analyses/methodology to answer the question at hand? By keeping this in mind, you can ensure that you are truly using the best methodology.
It's OK to let go of a hypothesis that is near and dear to your heart
Researchers are naturally curious, so it's in our nature to come up with hypotheses that are compelling and we believe to be true. Academic researchers often build careers around a particular hypothesis, so letting go of it, even if the data is leading you elsewhere, can be challenging. While we experience this on a smaller scale as market researchers, we need to be able to let go of these hypotheses when the data is telling us a different story.
If you're a datahead like me, take a listen to a few episodes of What's the Point? It may give you a new perspective and appreciation of data's influence on our day-to-day lives.
This podcast episode was a good reminder of what we're trying to do at Murphy Research: Figure out the best and most accurate way to answer big questions (here's one popular example) with data and let the results drive the story and the insights.
If you're wondering the best way to approach a research question, be sure to get in touch with us!