Mass Media Research: An Introduction - 9th Edition
Roger D. Wimmer & Joseph R. Dominick

Research Project Diary

The following is a diary kept by Dr. Roger Wimmer for a telephone perceptual study he conducted.  The names of the participants and the city where the study was conducted have been changed because the research is proprietary.  The intent is to give you an example of the steps involved in an actual private sector mass media study.

Cast of Characters:

Carl-General Manager, WAAA-FM

Paul-Program Director, WAAA-FM

Rick-Programming Consultant, WAAA-FM

Mark-Field Service Representative (Ft. Collins, CO)

Suzanne-Table production (Jacksonville, FL)


Monday, June 3

1.   9:00 a.m.  Receive call from Carl, GM of WAAA-FM in Chicago.  Also on call is Paul, the Program Director, and Rick, the Programming Consultant.  (I have worked with Rick several times in other markets so we know each other very well.)  Carl says he is concerned about the progress of his new format and asks if I already work in Chicago, and if not, if I would be willing to conduct a study for him.  He is sure that his format is correct, but wants to find out if he is giving the listeners what they want and if his morning show is on target.

      After a discussion about the radio station’s target (females 25-34), the type of questionnaire that might be used, timing of the study (when results would be available), and other general topics, Carl asks if I would do the project.  I say yes and quote $29,500 for a 400-person telephone study with his target listeners (females 25-34).  He will call tomorrow morning with his decision.  (90-minute discussion.)

2.   11:00 a.m.  Call Mark at the field service to make sure they can do the interviewing.  Ask for a quote for a 400-person (females 25-34, split 50% 25-29 and 50% 30-34), 15-minute telephone study in the Chicago metro counties, and with net incidence of 15%.  Tell Mark that I need to have him program the questionnaire, and also need coding for open-ended questions (the usual procedures).

3.   11:15 a.m.  Call Suzanne in Florida to ask if she can do the tables for the study.  She says OK.  Her fee is $1,000, which includes two banners with up to 20 points per banner.  I tell her she will receive the data files from Mark.


Tuesday, June 4

1.   8:30 a.m.  Carl calls and gives OK to start the project.  I ask him to email a “laundry list” of questions he wants to have answered.  I tell him that I will start the questionnaire development when I receive his questions and 50% of the research fee.  (20-minute telephone discussion.)

2.   Prepare contract (using Microsoft Word template) and invoice for 50% of contract price (using Excel template).  Both emailed to Carl.

3.   Carl faxes signed contract two hours later along with a note saying that I would receive the check for 50% via FedEx.


Wednesday, June 5

1.   Carl emails a list of questions he would like to have included.  I have a few questions and call him.  My questions are answered during a 30-minute discussion.

2.   Receive call from Mark at field service.  They can do the study and start whenever I get the questionnaire to them.  Estimated CPI is $27.50, which means direct costs for interviewing of $11,000.  Programming is $450 and coding for open-ended questions is 5 cents per question per person.  I agree to the fees and the deal is set.  I tell Mark that Suzanne in Florida will run the tables and that he should email her the data.  No problem since this is the usual procedure.

3.   Receive check via FedEx for 50% of the study.  Worked on questionnaire design for four hours.


Thursday, June 6

1.   First draft of questionnaire done after three hours.  Email a copy to the Carl, Paul, Rick, and to Mark at the field service so he can get an idea about the timing.

2.   4:30 p.m. Carl calls with Paul and Rick.  Several changes discussed.  I accept about 25% of their suggestions, refuse the others, and give reasons why.  They agree with my comments.  I tell them I will have changes done in an hour or so and will email the new version to them.

3.   5:30 p.m.  Questionnaire changes completed and emailed to Carl, Paul, and Rick.


Friday, June 7

1.   7:30 a.m.  Carl calls and approves the questionnaire.  I send the approved copy to Mark for programming.

2.   8:40 a.m.  Mark calls—no problems with questionnaire.

3.   I start writing upfront material (introduction, goals of study, sampling, etc.) for the report.  Also, complete title sheets for 3-ring binders for reports.

4.   5:30 p.m. Mark emails programmed questionnaire to check for accuracy.  No problems.  Call Mark and give him OK to start.

5.   6:00 p.m.  Email to Carl, Mark, and Rick to say that the study will start in the field tomorrow (Saturday).


Saturday, June 8

1.  10:00 a.m.  Email to Mark explaining that study started and there are no problems.  Finish writing upfront report materials.  Ready to plug in data.

Sunday, June 9

1.  1:00 p.m.  Email to Mark—study will be out of the field on Tuesday, June 11; data sent to Suzanne the same day.

2.  1:15 p.m.  Email to Suzanne explaining progress.  Receive OK from her in return email.

3.  1:30 p.m.  Email to Carl to explain progress.  Ask him to call tomorrow morning.


Monday, June 10

1.  8:00 a.m.  Carl calls and we set Friday, June 21 for presentation in Chicago.  The meeting will be at a hotel (need to get away from the radio station).  Carl will get the hotel meeting room, overhead projector, and screen.  Tell Carl to make sure that there are no radio station mentions on the hotel’s activity sheet.

2.  Call travel agent for plane, hotel, and car reservations.

3.  Review upfront materials for report.

4.  Talk to Paul and Rick about progress of study.  Tell them they will receive copies of the study before the meeting date.  They ask for results.  Tell them I have nothing to report.


Wednesday, June 12

1.   9:00 a.m.  Mark calls.  Study completed last night.  Data checked and sent to Suzanne.

2.   Suzanne calls to say she received data.  We discuss the banner points for the study and layout for tables.

3.   Paul and Rick call for results.  Tell them to lighten up.  Nothing available.


Thursday, June 13

1.   Suzanne calls with a few questions about tables.  Problems solved.


Friday, June 14

1.   6:00 p.m.  Receive tables from Suzanne via email.


Saturday, June 15

1.   Work on tables (Summary tables, conversion to Z-scores, etc.).  7 hours.


Sunday, June 16

1.   Work on tables.  6 hours.

Monday, June 17

1.   Work on tables and summary report.  6 hours.

2.   Carl calls to talk about study.  Tell him not ready yet.


Tuesday, June 18

1.   Complete tables and summary report (82 pages including tables).  4 hours.

2.   Carl calls to talk about study.  Tell him not ready yet.  Tell him to relax.  Says OK.


Wednesday, June 19

1.   Final review of report.  Make three copies.  FedEx report books to Carl, Paul, and Rick.

2.   Prepare overheads of tables and some PowerPoint charts.

3.   Carl calls to talk about study.  Tell him he will receive it tomorrow.


Thursday, June 20

1.   Carl, Paul, Rick call.  Received copy of study.  Also call Rick to go over plan for the presentation.  We agree on what needs to be done at the radio station.

2.   Fly to Chicago for presentation (more terrible experiences with security).


Friday, June 21

1.   Presentation starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 4:45 p.m.  Lunch in meeting room.  The presentation went well and discovered a few topics that will be pursued in focus groups in 30 days.  (Presented list of suggestions about how to improve the radio station.  All accepted and will be incorporated next week.  Carl asks if I would be willing to help with making sure that things are done correctly.  I agree.)

2.    Return to Denver.


Saturday, June 22

1.    Prepare final invoice for study (including travel expenses).  Email to Carl.

Total time from first telephone call to presentation: 19 days.

©2009 Roger D. Wimmer

Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 9th Edition, Home Page