The Office
St Mary's Crescent
ST14 7BH

Tel: 01889 564739
Fax: 01889 568972

Social Research

Research in society cannot be conducted like laboratory research. It is not possible to isolate and control variables in people's lives as it is in a test-tube. Research in the real world is an unpredictable puzzle.

We solve such puzzles through rigorous mixed method research, combining qualitative and quantitative techniques within a clear ethical framework. Our approach to research is participatory: we would rather do it with you than do it to you, because we know that this yields the most robust results. Depending on your requirements, this can mean anything from setting up a small steering group to oversee the work by meeting two or three times to advise us as we carry out the research, to supporting your staff and/or service users to carry out the entire research project yourselves. This also gives you more value for your money, as it builds research knowledge and capacity within your organisation or partnership.

We also provide consultancy support, sometimes for ongoing issues arising out of research projects and sometimes for stand-alone projects. We specialise in consultancy work with partnerships.

We can draw on a range of data collection methods including participatory appraisal methods, interviews (by telephone and face-to-face), document analysis, questionnaires and focus groups. We analyse data by hand or by computer, depending on the type and quantity of the data collected. The computer programs we currently use for data analysis are NVivo (for qualitative analysis), Sphinx Survey Lexica (for analysing the results of questionnaires), and Excel (for quantitative analysis).

We see our research as a conduit that links theory with practice. We take an eclectic approach to theory, drawing on aspects from a range of formal and informal theories as appropriate, including (but not limited to) grounded theory, evaluation theory, critical theory, learning theory, and the practice theories used by the commissioners and/or the steering group of the research in hand. We aim to produce research reports can be implemented to improve practice by including clear recommendations that are rooted in the findings from the data collected and based in the theoretical stance of the research.

We have a number of skills to offer:

  • evaluation research
  • project management - co-ordinating people to achieve objectives
  • writing - reports, procedures manuals, etc
  • facilitation - especially multi-agency or multi-viewpoint groups
  • training needs analysis - from small single groups to large multi-agency subject areas
  • organisation - particularly conferences and training courses
  • consultancy