Research plays a crucial role in social change projects. Through research you can get to know your issues in depth, find out where people stand on those issues, and make a strong evidence-based case for change. The Skills You Need website has a number of useful guides. These aren’t pitched for a campaigns and advocacy audience but are broadly useful. This article outlines some of the resources available relevant to research.
Research Methods: An Introduction
This page introduces some basic principles of research design and discusses how your view of the world affects your choice of methods and techniques.
This page explains some basic types of research, and their advantages and disadvantages.
Ethical Issues in Research
This page explains more about research ethics, and how you can ensure that your research is compliant.
Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
This page provides an introduction to the broad principles of qualitative and quantitative research methods, and the advantages and disadvantages of each in particular situations.
Interviews for Research
Although interviews are useful for eliciting in-depth information, they do need careful planning. Before you start, you need to be very clear what areas you want to explore, and that an interview is the best way to do this. In general, interviews are most useful when you wish to discover someone’s viewpoint and why they hold that view, especially when the information is likely to be sensitive.
This page provides a framework for the recruiting process, from preparation, interviewing, reviewing and decision making.
Focus Groups and Group Interviews
There are times when a group interview, also known as a focus group, can be the best way to ensure that you gain the range of views that you need.
Surveys and Survey Design
Surveys, which are also called questionnaires, are one of the key ways to gather quantitative data for analysis.
Sampling and Sample Design
When you collect any sort of data, especially quantitative data, whether observational, through surveys or from secondary data, you need to decide which data to collect and from whom. This is called the sample. There are a variety of ways to select your sample, and to make sure that it gives you results that will be reliable and credible.
Analysing the data
Simple Statistical Analysis
This page provides a brief summary of some of the most common techniques for summarising your data, and explains when you would use each one.
Qualitative Data from Interactions
This page discusses two techniques, repertory grid analysis and cognitive mapping, which may be helpful for identifying individuals’ views of the world.
Analysing Qualitative Data
Many analytical systems can be used for several different sorts of data, so the choice of which to use is fairly subjective. It will depend on the philosophy, and also on your own skills and preferences. This article covers six main systems of analysis for language-based data.
- Content Analysis
- Grounded Analysis
- Social Network Analysis
- Discourse Analysis
- Narrative Analysis
- Conversation Analysis
Statistical Analysis: Identifying Patterns
More advanced statistical analysis aims to identify patterns in data, for example, whether there is a link between two variables, or whether certain groups are more likely to show certain attributes.
For related resources see the Research and Archiving Topic.