Photo by Peter Feghali on Unsplash

What does ‘best practice’ look like for organisations doing applied social research?

This month, I’m working with the Open Data Institute (the ODI) to create a series of applied best practice guides for research methodologies when conducting research projects openly. These pragmatic guides will inform how the ODI team conducts and publishes research to invite open (public) collaboration in its design and delivery on their three-year R&D programme, funded by Innovate UK. The outcomes of this project will be a series of tools and resources which outline what to consider when undertaking research and using specific research methods. The final guides will be published and shared by the ODI over the coming months under a creative commons licence.

Having taken on this project, I want to help the ODI team define their ‘best practice’ standards in line with the practices and processes that other organisations when conducting social research.

Do you work in applied social research? Can you help?

I’m collating existing guides, tools and resources that are used by professionals who design, commission or undertake applied social research.

This spreadsheet is a curation of those guides and online tools that are available online.

If you are an evaluator, funder, commissioner, programme manager or a digital agency who asks people about their opinions, feedback, experiences or behaviours — can you contribute to this project?

Over the next two weeks (the project will be complete by the end of March) I’m looking for:

  1. Any documentation you have in your organisation outlining your ‘best practice’ in research. This could be about research processes (administration, consent forms), design (how to frame research) or methods (how to use methods, process of sign off or internal review)
  2. Any sector resources you’ve come across or that you actively use or follow when conducting research, particularly those freely available online
  3. Information or documentation detailing changes you have made to your research processes in light of GDPR.

We are particularly interested in examples of tools you use such as a research administration checklist, consent forms, email templates and coding templates. We will use these to inform the shape and content of the final best practice guides created.

Some of the guides will focus research processes such as: framing a research question selecting a representative sample, analysing data, creating actionable insights, participatory research, literature reviews. The remainder will focus on specific methods, yet to be finalised. These could include survey design, interviews (directed, non-directed and ethnographic), stakeholder mapping, usability tests (moderated, unmoderated and guerilla), ethical inquiry and grounded theory.

Next steps

If you would be able to share these with Think Social Tech and the ODI team please email me. If you would be interested in peer-reviewing or contributing to the guide content over the course of the project please also get in touch.

You can also contribute to the spreadsheet where I have started collating a list of resources available online about how to do research, as well as the names of research software and tools. Please feel free to add to this. Your contributions will be used to shape this project in March 2018 and I will continue to maintain this intermittently as an open resource over the remainder of the year.

Watch this space and the ODI website for more updates about the guides and their publication over the coming months.



Think Social Tech: Research, design and learning consultancy supporting tech for good initiatives (previously @comicrelief tech for good)

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Nissa Ramsay

Nissa Ramsay


Think Social Tech: Research, design and learning consultancy supporting tech for good initiatives (previously @comicrelief tech for good)