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Principles of good research

What is good research?

All research is different but the following factors are common to all good pieces of research involving social care service users, their families and carers and staff working in this area:

  • There is a clear statement of research aims, which defines the research question
  • There is an information sheet for participants, which sets out clearly what the research is about, what it will involve and consent is obtained in writing on a consent form prior to research beginning
  • The methodology is appropriate to the research question. So, if the research is into people’s perceptions, a more qualitative, unstructured interview may be appropriate
  • If the research aims to identify the scale of a problem or need, a more quantitative, randomised, statistical sample survey may be more appropriate. Good research can often use a combination of methodologies, which complement one another
  • The research should be carried out in an unbiased fashion. As far as possible the researcher should not influence the results of the research in any way. If this is likely, it needs to be addressed explicitly and systematically
  • From the beginning, the research should have appropriate and sufficient resources in terms of people, time, transport, money etc. allocated to it.

What knowledge should research training provide?

The people conducting the research should be trained in research and research methods and this training should provide:

  •  knowledge around appropriate information gathering techniques
  •  an understanding of research issues
  •  an understanding of the research area
  •  an understanding of the issues around dealing with vulnerable social care clients, especially regarding risk, privacy and sensitivity and the possible need for support.

Other important requirements

  • Those involved in designing, conducting, analysing and supervising the research should have a full understanding of the subject area
  • In some instances, it helps if the researcher has experience of working in the area. However, this can also be a negative factor, as sometimes research benefits from the fresh eyes and ears of an outsider, which may lead to less bias
  • If applicable, the information generated from the research will inform the policy-making process
  • All research should be ethical and not harmful in any way to the participants.