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Inspiration porn and the researcher

May 19, 2017

As a researcher working with charities I routinely evaluate projects that tackle inequalities and I come into contact with the people who have benefitted from the work.  Name me a marginalised group and I’ve probably worked with them.  NEET, LGBT, homeless, disabled, single parents or long-term unemployed.  Young people, older people.  People with lived experience of mental health problems or long-term physical health conditions.  Obviously not everyone that could fall into one of these groups is disadvantaged, but my research participants usually are because they are the ones that charities are targeting with their inequalities projects.

When it comes to research participants if I’m honest I have my favourites, the ones that I remember.

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Jobs that I could bid for, but I don’t

November 23, 2016

2008-10-27I recently wrote a blog post stating that one of the hardest learning points of self employment has been when to do NOTHING.  A few people in real life have chatted with me further about this, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about how it works for me.

Basically I am looking to undertake primary research projects for public or third sector organisations, I would be absolutely delighted to take on virtually any projects that meet this description, and I am well qualified to provide a high quality service for any project with this remit.  But!  This does not mean that I will get picked to do so.  There’s lots of consultants out there, and I can be one of twenty submitting a tender for a single job.  At the start of my self-employed career I bid for anything and everything, but over time I have worked out what sort of projects I never win and I have stopped bothering tendering for them.  I identify several opportunities every week that I could potentially apply for, and it can take a working day to write a proposal, so not bothering to bid for work that I probably won’t win saves me a lot of time.

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Where are all my publications?

November 1, 2016

img_3464In my last post I gave a link to a publication that I had recently had in a peer reviewed journal, which was very exciting for me.

If you are interested to read the publications that I have to my name, you can view these on my website.

A short list, isn’t it?

At last count: 11 project reports, 3 journal / magazine articles, 2 e-books, and a handful of press articles.

Not much to show for a 14 year career in research! Read more…

LINK: Journal article in Evidence Based Midwifery

October 14, 2016

20161006_123345I’m ever so pleased that my long-term clients at NHS Education for Scotland have had an article published in the Evidence Based Midwifery Journal based on their project and my evaluation of it. And I am a co-author!  This is exciting for me, because as a Consultant I don’t often get to ‘publish’ my work in the traditional sense, or even speak about it publicly, because the findings are ‘owned’ by my clients and are generally intended for internal use.

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LINK: How to read opinion polls

September 5, 2016

I hear a lot of cynicism about opinion polls and having previously managed (and loved) a Scottish omnibus survey – a monthly opinion poll on varied subjects – I’m keen to dispel any myths!

The Market Research Society are working on a new document entitled MRS guidance on how to read opinion polls which is aimed at non-researchers, and this can be found here.

Check it out!

I’m recording you now

August 16, 2016

2012-03-18When I conduct depth interviews I always make an audio recording of the conversation because:

  • It gives me a record of the session
  • It helps me with analysis as I can either have it transcribed or listen back to it multiple times
  • I don’t need to take notes as I go along, and can concentrate on the conversation

Great for me!  But sometimes respondents can be a bit wary of the Big Brotheryness of it all, or anxious that they may be being covertly recorded, or worried that a recording of them speaking might fall into the wrong hands.

As a professional researcher I take this very seriously, and making a recording naturally has ethical considerations attached to it.  I need to ensure that I gain consent from the respondent to record what they say, and the data I am generating (the recorded file) needs to be used and stored appropriately and securely.

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Should I show my interview questions to respondents in advance?

July 27, 2016

2014-02-15When I conduct in-depth interviews I always do so with the aid of an interview schedule, which is a list of questions to guide each conversation.  After a briefing from my client, I prepare a bullet-point list of questions and prompts running to one or two pages in length.  Following this document ensures I ask everything that I need to ask to meet my client’s needs.

This is our internal document, for me and my client.

Before I speak to them I give respondents a broad overview of what they can expect from the interview.  For example, I might say:

I am evaluating Project Fish, which will involve me talking to people that took part in the project about their experiences of how it went and the difference it made, if any.  The conversations should take about half an hour.

That’s all I typically say.  But a few times of late, my clients have asked me to show respondents a copy of my interview questions in advance.

This isn’t standard protocol.

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