COVID-19 communications: Best practice for designing research and implementing results

Research can be an invaluable tool for local authorities, but only if it is conducted in a way that makes the most of what it has to offer.


Below are five best practice elements for designing research and implementing results:

  1. Establish clear objectives
    A successful research programme is always driven by a clear vision for the questions that need answering and the insight that is required. By establishing clear objectives, it becomes easier to determine the methodologies, approaches and audiences to cover.
  2. Use approaches and questioning appropriate to your audience
    If you want to engage residents about a complex topic where existing knowledge will be low, adopting an in-depth qualitative approach is likely to deliver greater value than a quantitative survey.
  3. Be clear with people what the research is for
    People are more likely to participate, and to take the research process seriously, if they understand why it is being conducted and crucially, how their participation will ultimately lead to benefits for them or their area.
  4. Be ready to adapt to COVID-19 guidance
    The public health situation is changing rapidly, and the appropriateness of some methods, particularly face-to-face research, can change equally rapidly. Be nimble and able to move to a remote solution if the situation demands it.
  5. Focus on solutions
    Research that sits on a shelf has not achieved its purpose. When conducting a study, be clear about what the outputs will be used for and what decision-making they will inform. Afterwards, work with your research partner to understand the data, and make sure that understanding is disseminated and acted on within your organisation.

About the author

We would like to thank the research agency Savanta ComRes for contributing this article.

Email better.decisions@savanta.com .