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Non-Profit Research Tips (2 of 5), Determine Methodology and Analysis Plan

When conducting a research study, it is important to have a well-thought-out plan in place.  Be sure to consider the Type of Study, Contact Method and Analysis Plan. Following is an approach to Step 2, determining methodology and analysis plan.

 Type of Study:          There are many types of studies, so determining up-front which is right for your group is critical and will impact how you proceed with the next steps.  Keeping the goal of your study in mind, some types of studies you want to think about are:

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Policy or Legislative Review
  • Effectiveness/Efficiency
  • Product/Service Testing
  • Attitude and Awareness

 Qualitative or Quantitative?  Another consideration for the type of survey is to think about what mix of qualitative and quantitative data would be most helpful.  Qualitative data (verbatim responses from participants) tend to be very illustrative and often very specific, but may be more difficult to use in identifying trends.  Quantitative data is helpful for making data-driven decisions and is easier to work with and chart results, but may be less information rich.  Typically a mix of both questions is the best solution.

 Contact Method:    What will be the easiest and most reliable way for your population to share information with you?  What will means will yield the most accurate and honest feedback?  While mailing a survey may be the most inexpensive, does everyone in your population read and understand surveys easily?  Will they mail it back to you?  Telephone is more expensive, but often yields more results, faster and provides an opportunity for participant/interviewer interaction.  In-person allows the interviewer to provide maximum assistance to the participant, but is costly and often intrusive.  Other means to consider include focus groups, email, web-based or a panel survey.

 As you consider your how you want to contact people, be sure to factor in time lines, due dates, and schedules, cost, incentives and technology – both yours and your participants.

Analysis Plan:          What do you want to know?  What will you do with the results?  What is the most accurate way to reflect the information that your have collected?  Full books have been written on analysis plan options, but to start, think about any statistical analysis that may be helpful for your organization.  Are there specific sub-populations (e.g. people whose primary language is Spanish or other demographic groups), for which you would like to see information? While complex statistical analysis may be interesting, will your organization actually use it?  Or would means and percentages be as effective?

 Once you and your team have answered the questions about 1) definition and scope and 2) methodology and analysis plan, you are ready to move to the next step in the process – Defining the Population.

Posted in Client Satisfaction, Market Research, Quality Improvement.

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