Key Parts of Quality Research
Whether you’re looking to get the edge over your competitors, test an idea, or articulate and advocate your needs, there are two key ingredients to top quality research:
- An evidence base is essential. Quality research, based on evidence, can minimise risk and help you uncover opportunities. Depending on the end use, this might need to be qualitative, quantitative or a mix of both.
- Effective communication. Even the best research won’t cut through unless it is presented in a user-friendly format. This includes tailoring it to the target audience, using plain English and making use of graphics where appropriate.
Depending on the topic you might need a high-level overview for benchmarking, a literature review, or a comprehensive community profile. Unsure where to start, and what’s right for your needs? We’ve pulled together an A to Z of the most common research and insight services we’re engaged to work on, and what each can offer.
Our A to Z of Research and Insights
Advocacy aims to influence decisions and can be undertaken at a systemic or individual level. It often involves issues of equity and equality. Advocacy is usually built on evidence, emotion, or a mix of both. Quality research that is well presented is a must for evidence-based advocacy and can be used as the basis for a range of outputs. This include strategy, submissions, policy positions, media and communications.
Data analysis involves taking raw data, undertaking data cleaning and then analysis, to provide useful context and decision-making material. It can unearth areas to prioritise limited resources, or issues to investigate further. Data analysis can be used as a foundation for – planning, socioeconomics, community profiles, impact analysis and understanding broad stakeholder sentiment.
In this context, a case study is a story or scenario in a real-world context that can be used to explain, explore or describe. Underpinned by a detailed in-depth analysis, case studies use a narrative approach and can be a very powerful way to communicate a situation or outcome. They can help people relate, feel understood, or help people understand perspectives which are different from their own. Case studies can be used in – strategies, communications, advocacy, engagement and behaviour change programs.
The experience and views of stakeholders who are affected by or interested in a topic should be fundamental in decision-making. Too often we see the result of not investing time and resources in genuine engagement – solutions that don’t hit the mark, cause unintended damage and sometimes need to be completely reworked. Context is key in engagement and depending on this and the level of impact and interest, anything from consultation to co-design might be warranted. There are many methods involved in stakeholder engagement (including surveys, interviews, forums) and, while each project is different depending on the context, engagement should always be well planned with a clear purpose and a mechanism for the outcomes to influence the decision. In addition to planning and delivering engagement, it is important to report and share (as appropriate) the outcomes.
Industry / Market Insights
We create industry and market insights at a range of levels, from snapshots to detailed reports. Depending on the level of detail, these can provide you with growth trends and industry outlook, market segmentation, SWOT, supply chain overview and more. We can usually develop these to the ANZSIC code level. These quality research insights, as well as our optional ESG insights, can help to guide business decisions, prioritise focus areas, assist with benchmarking and unearth growth opportunities.
A literature review is an important research tool that outlines existing knowledge on a topic, how this has developed over time, emerging ideas and where future research might be best directed. It can be selective or comprehensive and applied at the macro or micro scale, for example to an entire sector or a specific topic. They provide a useful synthesis of current and future thinking. Literature reviews are often used in research reports on a specific location, topic or industry and can save time on un-necessary research by building on previous learnings.
Policy / Position
If you want to be noticed and heard by decision-makers, a policy position can articulate a key problem you are facing and communicate a unified position. It’s important a policy position is based on both factual evidence and the experience of those who are currently (or might) be affected.
For complex topics, it may be necessary to develop a background paper that explores the issue/s in more depth, including relevant strategic context and alignment. This also provides the underpinning evidence base and references to be used in a position statement. A policy position is a particularly useful tool for peak, industry and member bodies as it encapsulates a position for everyone to unify with. An accompanying advocacy and communications plan is essential to its success.
Usually community profiles, these are built on data analysis and engagement to ground truth the information. The most common profiles we work on are based on a geographic community and it’s important that meaningful measures and data are used. For instance, we’ve developed our own bespoke tool based on the OECD Regional Wellbeing Framework, that uses data at finer grain across a range of indicators incorporating the economy, environment, and people. Our profiles have been used in – strategic plans, economic development strategies, frameworks and resilience planning.
Building on a literature review, a scoping review combines current knowledge and identified gaps to make recommendations. Alongside a literature review, contextual graphics can map key findings into meaningful categories and communicate them with stakeholders. They are particularly useful in new areas of research or emerging industries.
Organisations must respond to their external environment to stay relevant. A situational analysis is a tool to review the internal and external environment of a business or organisation. It can help to map and understand capabilities, customers, and the business environment and is generally an internal decision-making guide.
It’s important to us our work has made a genuine difference to the communities we work with. Informed by quality research information, our clients are empowered to shape their decision-making to best effect. If you’re interested in joining the ranks of our many satisfied clients, make a time to discuss your requirements.