Research

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You don't have the time to wade through mounds of technical papers or survey hordes of stakeholders to discover where your organization stands or how to build a stronger future. With over 40 years as a social scientist, K. K. Biersdorff has the experience you need to find the answers to your questions.

The key is in two skills: analysis and synthesis. Skilled researchers can analyze existing studies and recognize design flaws and limitations. They know when other researchers have come to conclusions that go beyond what the data support. They also apply these skills to their own work, developing research tools (e.g., focus group questions, surveys, observation measures) that are most likely to answer the questions you need answered. Although some researchers specialize exclusively in either quantitative or qualitative research methods, K. K. Biersdorff Consulting is equally comfortable with analysis of numeric data and with thematic analysis of what people have said or written.

The ability to synthesize information systematically is equally important. This involves taking the various individual data sources (e.g., answers to individual questions or research reports in a literature review) and looking for the relationships and patterns that tell you what is really going on. Synthesis is how the little details become the "big picture." Creating a positive "big picture" for the future requires a combination of analysis and synthesis with an emphasis on the practical implications of the results.


Focus group.

Original photo by Sheila Carruthers

  • State-of-the-Art/Best Practice
  • Satisfaction Surveys & Summative Evaluation
  • Formative Evaluation & Stakeholder Surveys
  • Participatory Action Research (PAR)

State-of-the-Art/Best Practices - Literature Reviews

Whether you're looking for best practices in human resources, customer service or special issues in leadership, management, diversity or disability, K. K. Biersdorff Consulting can find what you are looking for. We will review primary sources (the articles where the authors actually collected the data, rather than secondary sources which review other people's research) in the journals and trade magazines. We will supplement that reading with secondary sources and Internet resources. Then we will distill the information into a short report focused on practical strategies and implications for your organization. The report will be well-referenced with a relevant bibliography at the end. What you will not get is an academic report with more detail than you need about research methods and theoretical models (unless you specifically ask for them).

Snapshot of the Organization or Services - Summative Evaluation & Satisfaction Surveys

Did your special project make a difference? Are clients happy with the services you have provided to them? Are your current communications being noticed and remembered? What are your employees concerned about? These are just a few of the questions that are answered by taking a research "snapshot" of the current state of affairs. Whether your purpose is to provide evidence of program or organizational effectiveness to a funder or government ministry or provide a foundation for change, evaluation research is a valuable tool.

K. K. Biersdorff Consulting will work with you and your organization to find the best means of getting the information you need using mail or phone surveys, face-to-face interviews or focus groups, or even analysis of documentary evidence (e.g., complaints, repeat business). There is no such thing as a standard evaluation; the questions depend entirely on what you want and need to know. K. K. Biersdorff Consulting will make every effort to ensure that the wording of questions do not bias the answers in a particular question. We are committed to research with integrity. If you are not willing to hear anything negative, find another consultant.

Setting Future Directions - Formative Evaluation & Stakeholder Surveys

If your organization has a commitment to continue to do what works and change what does not, formative evaluation can help you achieve that aim. K. K. Biersdorff Consulting can evaluate the outcomes that you achieve with your services, or the processes that you use to achieve them. Surveying your stakeholders—whether by mail or phone survey, semi-structured interview or focus group discussion—can tell you what you need to do to ensure satisfied customers or fulfilled employees in the future.

Creating Positive Change - Participatory Action Research

Traditional applied research collects data, reports results and recommendations, and then—if the political will exists—leads to change within the organization or system. Participatory action research (PAR) starts with the change—a new program or way of doing things designed by those most affected (the "stakeholders"). Then data are collected on the change processes and outcomes, and results are reported. Further change may then occur, but change in PAR is guaranteed by the fact that it is an up-front part of the process. This newer strategy for research, common in community development work, is engaging and easily builds momentum because the buy-in is a result of participation in the change process. Unlike other research approaches, people do not question whether they will expend effort without any significant outcome. By its very nature, there will be change.

In PAR, the researcher works directly with the stakeholders (e.g., an organization's clients, members and/or staff) to set the directions for the project, carry it out, evaluate and report the outcomes. The researcher provides expertise in research methods (which involve the same types of tools as used in more traditional research), while the stakeholders provide expertise in the content area for the change. Because the stakeholders may have other full-time commitments, the researcher may provide continuity and much of the effort required to get things done. Some of the most innovative and effective developments have come out of this type of PAR process.

Help to Plan Your Own Project

If you prefer to plan your own project, but don't know where to start, K. K. Biersdorff Consulting can help you develop some basic research know-how with its series of How to Plan Good Projects articles written in plain language. K. K. Biersdorff Consulting worked with people who have intellectual disabilities to develop short papers on how to plan good projects from start to end. Each paper covers a different topic in simple words and pictures, so anyone can plan their own project.