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Research



We conduct large scale and small scale social and market research projects of all types, using both traditional methods of data collection (such as focus groups, face-to-face and telephone interviews, postal surveys, and document analysis), and more recently developed methods such as online and email surveys.

All our research projects are individually costed and itemised, and there are economies of scale with larger projects, plus other significant reductions. However, please check our approximate costs page for guidance on the maximum costs of specific elements of research.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research answers questions such as 'how many?', 'what proportion?' 'to what extent?' etc. The principal method of quantitative social research is the social survey (in all its variety of forms). Although many social survey questionnaires contain both quantitative and qualitative questions, they are primarily a data collection tool associated with gathering numbers. Social surveys can be conducted by post, by telephone, online, in the form of street questionnaires, or indeed in many other forms. We have a great deal of experience in administering social surveys and conducting analysis on datasets of varying sizes. We always analyse quantitative data in SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) to enable us to weight data, develop appropriate frequencies and crosstabulations and test the significance of any results.

Qualitative Research

Broadly qualitative research studies human behaviour holistically within its 'natural' context, searching for 'understanding' and 'meaning' in social action. The primary methodological tools used in qualitative research are:

  • Observation (both overt and covert)
  • Semi-structured individual and group interviews, and,
  • Focus groups / discussion groups

The data that is generated by these qualitative research methods is rigorously analysed to develop themes, perspectives and hypotheses that can be used in a number of ways:

  • As 'standalone' evidence (in terms of answering questions such as how? and why?)
  • As the basis of developing quantitative questions to reflect the numbers within a sample / population with similar feelings / opinions
  • As the first step in developing 'grounded theory' (method and analysis should produce results that are repeatable, reasonable and 'true', involving a clear understanding of complexity, detail and context).

The best research method to use

This is entirely dependent upon the question to be answered. Perhaps the clearest way to think about what methods of data collection should be used is to clearly think about the purpose of the research project. If it is to count or tabulate in some way then some form of quantitative method would be appropriate; if it is to understand how or why people hold particular opinions or take particular actions then some form of qualitative method would be appropriate. For many research projects a 'mixed methods' approach is best, using a variety of data collection methods in order to answer questions of both 'how many' and 'why'.


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