social research

Jul 26 2017

Evaluation or research?

I sometimes encounter confusion or misunderstandings from colleagues or associates about the differences between research and evaluation. Because this happened again just recently I feel I would like to outline five ways in which evaluation differs from social or market research. 1. Empirical vs applied knowledge Research involves the production of generalisable knowledge, sometimes theoretical, […]

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Feb 26 2017

Evaluation on a shoestring

If you’ve ever wished you had more resources to conduct an evaluation, you’re not alone. But if you’ve ever felt you shouldn’t proceeded with commissioning an evaluation because of constraints on resources, think again.  Renowned American evaluator Michael Bamberger has written extensively about how to conduct evaluations with limited resources. He calls it a Shoestring […]

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Nov 28 2016

KPIs: Key Performance Indicators? Or perhaps not so key?

KPIs: Key Performance Indicators. Surely they’re the most relevant indicator when conducting an evaluation, right? KPIs are widely known and used in the business world. They are known as measurement values that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving its key business objectives. KPIs are typically quantifiable measures that are used to track and assess […]

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Nov 14 2016

Cause and effect: why does it matter?

Causation can be a basic concept in everyday life. If you slip on a banana peel you will likely fall, therefore it makes logical sense to say that the presence of a banana peel in your path caused you to fall. But things can also get more complex than that. If you think about what […]

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Oct 6 2016

To measure or not to measure

We often feel we need to assign value to something, to be sure we know if it has merit or worth. The field of evaluation is embedded in processes of measurement, be that qualitative or quantitative, or a combination of both methods. Social research, too, is similarly participating in the debate about what can––or should––be […]

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Sep 14 2016

Community Panels: consistent consultation in small regional towns

Consulting with communities over the long-term in small regional towns in Australia presents similar challenges to consultation in cities. How do you target the right people for consultation? How do you keep people engaged for long-term projects?
 It is a myth that small towns folk have more time on their hands than their busy city […]

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Aug 17 2016

Data Saturation – numbers left out in the rain, or something else?

Data saturation is a term used in research to indicate that no new information is expected to be added that will enhance or change the findings of a study. Data saturation is important to achieve. It is reached when there is enough information to replicate the study, when the ability of obtain additional new information […]

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Jul 27 2016

Cause and effect. Is qualitative evidence legitimate?

The exploration of causal pathways is compelling in evaluation and sometimes central. Investigating cause and effect and can be the only way of providing evidence that a program or initiative can be directly attributable to a particular outcome. To understand causal pathways is useful in telling a story of a program and is essential in […]

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Jun 30 2016

Triangulation – cross checking research findings

An important consideration when conducting research and evaluation is whether you can rely on your data as being a true portrayal of the views or position of your population of interest. It is important to be sure that the findings being presented have not been unintentionally skewed because of how the questions were asked, or […]

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Jun 22 2016

Professionalisation of an industry. Is it important?

I belong to two professional bodies: the Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS) and the Australasian Evaluation Society (AES). Despite having about 15 years’ experience working in these two fields, I recently acquired a professional qualification from one of these bodies and am working towards acquiring a professional qualification from the other. The professionalisation […]

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