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It’s all about the base (aka don’t use Surveymonkey graphs)

October 9, 2017

In quantitative research we ask lots of people lots of questions and we look for patterns within the data.  To do this in a robust way, ideally we do all of our analysis and manipulation within a fixed framework of data so that when we are presenting findings, we are comparing like with like.

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Why I think it is important that research is ‘politically correct’

September 21, 2017

Absolutely no question, I’ve casually insulted every minority going at some point.  I’ve been racist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic.  I’ve insulted disabled people and people with mental illness and neuro divergent people and homeless people and travelling communities and people from economically deprived backgrounds.  Not to their faces, obviously.  I’m not a confrontational person.  In fact most of the time I was a child and I had absolutely no idea what I was saying.  Sometimes I’ve unwittingly insulted myself in the process.  You know the sort of words I mean, so I won’t give them any more publicity.  But I’d heard those words somewhere and it felt normal to use them.  Times change, meanings associated with words change, society changes.  I have my own child now, and I still hear some of the same words in the playground.  Kids are still hearing these words somewhere and thinking it feels normal to use them.

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I have £2 in my business bank account – more about cashflow

September 15, 2017

So I looked at my business account today and I have £2 in it.

Two pounds.  I was absolutely mortified.

It costs virtually nothing to run my business, a few hundred pounds a year on various subscriptions (and some project-based expenses which are eventually reimbursed) but that’s about it.  I usually keep a reserve of about £200 in my business account to cover incidental expenses such as transport and coffee and that has always been more than enough.  Well over the last few months I have spent a bit and spent a bit and now there’s £2 in there.

How has this happened?

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Reasons to position your demographic section at the end of a survey

September 4, 2017

Demographic (or classification) questions (such as gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, income…) are asked in surveys for three main reasons:

  • To find out how many people responding to the survey fall into each of those categories;
  • To use for cross-analysis, to see whether particular groups respond to the main body of questions in different ways;
  • To make sure the right people answer the survey (i.e. to enable screener questions or quotas).

It is super-useful for us researchers if respondents are prepared to give us full and honest disclosure when it comes to demographic information.  For that reason, we do our best to capture demographic data as fully as possible.

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How to analyse your media mentions in-house

August 15, 2017

Way back when (OK, 2002) in my first job, the research agency I worked for specialised in communications research and we had a bespoke solution for analysing media mentions.  We used to get boxes and boxes of clippings containing mentions of our clients, then our analysts would read and code them up.  Following data entry, our system spat out a really useful report about the content and tone of the coverage as a whole.  We could then tell our clients if the media was reporting what they wanted them to report, and whether they were doing it in a positive way.  Very important for assessing the effectiveness of press releases, and brand reputation.

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Holistic questionnaire design

July 11, 2017

I’ve whinged on before that every man and his dog thinks they can write a good questionnaire, and you’ll not be surprised to hear that in my opinion that’s not true.  I’ve been reflecting on this a bit, and was wondering what would happen if you stuck me and a non-professional researcher in adjoining rooms and asked us both to come up with a questionnaire on the same topic.  How would our final products differ?

I think if you asked me to write a survey about cat ownership, it would come out quite differently than a non-professional researcher’s survey about cat ownership.

To be fair I think most people do know a bit about questionnaire design and are able to have a go, but it is my view that the quality of the output would vary depending on the level of understanding and experience of quantitative research theory.

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Complaint about “Dear Sirs”

June 21, 2017

Dear [Head of Equalities and Diversity],

I am writing to complain about the wording of one of [National Public Body]’s recent procurement documents which I accessed through Public Contracts Scotland: An invitation to tender for the evaluation of [Project].

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