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How to plan research


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A series of slides on planning research in a local authority context

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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How to plan research

  1. 1. Planning a research project Lunchtime learning – 13 April 2016 Mark Picksley, Customer Intelligence Manager
  2. 2. The application of scientific research methods to obtain objective information on people’s attitudes and behaviour based usually on representative samples of the relevant populations. The MRS, Market Research: Guidance for Members (Sept 2001) The systematic and objective identification, collection, analysis and dissemination of information for the purpose of improving decision making related to the identification and solution of problems and opportunities in marketing. ESOMAR glossary, (2007) What is research?
  3. 3. Before you start • Be clear what you want to achieve • How will the findings make a difference to your service? • Is new research needed? – Existing data - census, community profiles, other research or consultation - check the Insight Hub – Council records - phone calls, letters, complaints, web statistics • Decide how you will analyse and disseminate your findings • What resources do you have available? • Is the scale and cost of the research in proportion to the cost of the service being delivered?
  4. 4. Our research and consultation standards • Provide, at appropriate locations, basic information about services and advice on where to get more information. This will be supplemented where necessary to assist participation in research or consultation. • Be clear about the purpose of, and timetable for, research and consultation. • Explain why we are undertaking the research or consultation project and how we intend to use the results. • Actively listen to the views of the community and stakeholders fully before decisions are made. • Show evidence of involving the hard to reach groups and listen to their concerns. • Use appropriate techniques to ensure that the project is meaningful. • Provide feedback to the community on what they have told us during the research or consultation and the effect the results have had on our decisions. • Share information with other relevant departments and partners to ensure maximum impact of the views of local people on services. • Evaluate our research and consultation exercises to test whether the standards have been met.
  5. 5. Have clear objectives • Are you trying to: – give people a chance to have their say – boost involvement – boost understanding – get an accurate measure of local views • Difficult to do all using the same exercise – a combination of approaches is needed • Each approach has strengths and weaknesses
  6. 6. Qualitative or quantitative? Qual approaches Representative research Seek information or advice from… Seek to find new facts… •Understanding •Involving •Not statistically reliable •Hear from smaller sub- groups •Rigorous sampling •Measure performance •Analysis by sub-groups •Benchmark results
  7. 7. Quantitative methodologies
  8. 8. • Cheap and easy to produce • large number of people can be invited to take part • can ask sensitive questions (e.g. in staff survey) Postal and self-completion research • low response rates are common • Biased/ self-selecting - more “interested” are most likely to take part • poor qualitative information • less sophisticated questions • Issues with routing and instructions • people may need help filling them in (e.g. literacy/language) • Not representative and high weighting required E.g. STAR survey of tenants
  9. 9. • quick • can control who responds • can control order of questionnaire Telephone research • needs to be kept short • removes visual prompts • excludes people with no phone, or only mobile • geographical precision - particularly in local areas E.g. Business survey, survey of Council Tax payers
  10. 10. • in-home does not exclude any groups… in theory • generally good response rates • most statistically representative • can use – visual aids – complex questions Face to face research • expensive • takes time • may not be right for some audiences - e.g. senior managers with little time on their hands E.g. Residents’ survey, on-street surveys
  11. 11. • Fast • Flexible • Allows complex routing • No interviewer bias • Convenient for respondents • Hard to reach target groups • Sensitive subjects • Real time reporting • Detailed verbatims • Cost effective Web-based research • excludes people not on internet (older, lower social class) therefore not representative • need for technological support • Can require good quality email lists E.g. Staff survey
  12. 12. Qualitative methodologies
  13. 13. Qualitative research methods Methods Ethnography Focus Groups Mini- groups Depths Deliberative Workshops Paired Depths Citizens Juries Pre/post-tasking material Family groups Triads While most qual is best face to face, it usually can also be conducted online or via phone Observation
  14. 14. When to use particular methods Who is it good for? And what sort of topics? How long will it last? Depth Professionals, minority groups, sensitive topics Up to 1 hr, usually shorter on phone Paired depth or triad Minority groups, young people, learning disabled, where you are investigating relationships Up to 1.5 hrs, not usually suited to phone or online Focus group General public, less complex issues 1.5 hrs Deliberative workshop General public, complex issues Up to 1 day, usually about 3 hrs Rolling groups On the day recruitment, open house events. Less complex At least 3 hours, with participation for 15 mins Mini group Minority groups, busy people 1 hour Ethnography, observation, accompaniment Anyone, where you want to understand behaviours Variable in length, could be days
  15. 15. Who to commission? • What are your skills and resources? • What level of service do you require? • Can the community be involved?
  16. 16. Our Market Research Interviewers • Around 30 members of staff on a casual contract • Trained in market research skills • Able to do interviews and surveys, data capture, data entry, note taking and transcription, consultation and engagement • Paid at London living wage (currently £9.40ph) • Booked through Policy and Communications
  17. 17. • Clearly state aims and objectives • Check the Insight Hub to see if any related work has already been carried out • Understand the target population • Make sure questionnaires, topic guides or materials are well designed • Put accurate processes in place to process the findings and information • Put processes in place to share information to ensure maximum impact of the findings on services Effective research checklist