social research

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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May 19 2016

Is all error bad?

  Evaluation and research inquiries are about exploring the truth, about difference- also known as ‘variance’. For example: What are the different ways that this program or service delivered its outcomes? How did different community groups differ in their perception of the new client service? These are both fairly common evaluative questions. And common to […]

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Apr 15 2016

Theory-based evaluation – addressing an evaluation deficit

Evaluations conducted in the field of arts and cultural initiatives in Australia are often critiqued for their methodologically weakness. Concerns amongst peers and academics have included their reliance on small sample sizes, anecdotal evidence, limited hypothesis testing and little attention to the examination of internal program mechanisms with the aim of looking for causal factors […]

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Mar 21 2016

Quantitative research in evaluation – for what purpose?

Evaluation is a field in which evaluators are looking for mechanisms within program that bring about effects. The practice of evaluation involves making a judgement and also often testing a hypothesis of explanation of a theory. In order to make a sound judgement or test a theory, the evaluator needs to gather evidence, either in […]

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Feb 17 2016

Rockhampton Retrospective – 3 years, 8 key challenges

Creative Capricorn was a three-year cultural program rolled out in Rockhampton, Queensland. Its aim was to demonstrate that when integrated into economics, social and community planning, arts and cultural projects can assist in the diversification of local economies, increase social cohesion and improve quality of life for the community. NSF was commissioned to evaluate this […]

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Feb 9 2016

Low carbohydrate? Or poor performance indicators?

I recently purchased a loaf of ‘low carbohydrate’ bread (see image). Now, looking at this loaf, I think you will agree there is no denying that this loaf would be lower in carbohydrates than other loaves. But that is possibly because it has a great big hole in it. I’m only kidding, of course, but […]

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Feb 1 2016

How do you decide who to recruit for your research?

Typically, evaluation and research is about human beings. Our focus of interest is often users of programs or initiatives. They may be individuals, social groups, special interest groups, clubs, companies, cities or countries. We need to identify people willing to provide their experiences, thoughts, ratings, assessments, or other input into the topic of interest. But […]

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Jan 21 2016

Numbers or words? The qualitative vs quantitative debate

Over the past 20 years or so, a debate over the relative virtues of quantitative and qualitative methodology has gained considerable momentum. In the field of social research and evaluation, quantitative research has been considered as the more ‘traditional’ approach to addressing a research question. Decades ago, researchers advocating for the use of qualitative methods […]

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Nov 28 2015

How significant is that?

When you look at survey results do you ask yourself ‘Are there numbers statistically significant? Yes or no?’ ‘Significance’ is a commonly used word in statistics. Significance tests suggest confidence in survey findings; that the findings matter and are meaningful.  But perhaps a term like ‘meaningful’ may be a more helpful way to assess statistics […]

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