Designing research for impact
The importance of well designed research
Ensuring that a research project is effectively designed is crucial to its success in impacting on research users. However a study is carried out, its design needs to produce evidence that research users can trust and therefore act on. Researchers also need to ensure that Local Authorities receive findings whilst the issues are still current.
How to design for impact
- Focus on current issues
Research that has impact tends to be commissioned to meet specific local or national issues that Local Authorities are dealing with.
- Rigorous and robust methodology
Staff use research to inform decisions about the services they provide. They want to know that the methodologies used are rigorous and robust, leading to well-evidenced findings which they can rely on. Case study 2
- Appropriate methodology
Both large-scale quantitative and small-scale qualitative research was seen as useful by our interviewees. More important than size is that the methodology suits the issues being investigated.
- Appropriate time-scale
Research users often need the time scale of research to be short - for example lasting less than a year. This means the findings are still likely to be relevant to them when reported. Case study 6
‘The landscape changes quickly. If life has moved on and there have been policy changes, then people will put [the research] to one side.’
- Experienced researchers
Research should be carried out by researchers with expertise in the chosen subject area. Equally, the researchers should have knowledge of the Local Authority context to which the findings are applicable. Our interviewees stressed the need for research where the researchers, or the institutions they work for, are well-respected and independent.