Claire was a health practitioner doing a PhD in her clinical area. Her interviewing skills were identified as an area for development. The issues to address included: improving questioning and probing skills; dealing with the emotional burden of listening to upsetting interviews and Claire feeling stressed about her work. In order to respond to these needs, ResearchAbility provided:
- skills based training and mentoring focusing on interviewing skills – going back to the basic principles of listening and questioning techniques; reviewing interview recordings and transcripts; role playing with video and audio for reflection afterwards
- a session working with a project topic guide to prepare for interviews – thinking about how to approach different topics and how to manage the interview
- a series of supervision sessions – debriefing after interviews and reflection on practice
- cognitive behavioural coaching: exploring the causes of the stress and addressing them through focused work on cognitive responses using practical tools and exercises.
Commissioning and managing qualitative research
Andrea was a research commissioner in a Local Authority. Although experienced in survey design, she was new to qualitative methods. She needed a clear understanding of what quality looks like in qualitative research in order to design an appropriate research specification and manage a research contractor effectively through a research project. ResearchAbility provided the following:
- A theoretical, evidence-based overview of quality in qualitative research
- Coaching on how to develop a clear specification:
- clarify and prioritise the research objectives;
- explore the range of possible methodological approaches (strengths and weaknesses)
- criteria used and assessments around: costings, ethics, research governance and quality assurance.
- Ongoing telephone based mentoring throughout the research process:
- Maintaining good communication with the contractor
- Working to timetables and collaborating on research tools
- quality assurance: updates on progress and budget, recognising and responding to problems with quality.
Analysis, reporting and dissemination
Vivek worked for a large national charity in a small research team. He had experience of qualitative analysis, but had not done it in a systematic way. He had listened to recordings of his interviews and written up notes, but his reports tended to describe the data rather than provide in-depth analysis and explanation. Analysis made him stressed and anxious, and he took far more time than he wanted, working late into the night to meet deadlines. In order to build his skills and confidence and improve the quality of his analysis and outputs, ResearchAbility provided the following:
- Teaching session on the key theories and approaches to qualitative analysis;
- Working alongside Vivek to break down the tasks involved and develop a rigorous, systematic approach to:
- ordering the data,
- identifying the analytical questions,
- describing the data,
- analysing for classifications, typologies and patterns,
- clarifying the limits of interpretation and the strengths of the data,
- making recommendations and drawing links to existing research.
- Cognitive behavioural coaching to explore the reasons for Vivek’s heightened stress during reporting resulting in a set of strategies for him to implement
- Ongoing mentoring on the report writing process, working with Vivek’s project data, as well as using examples of good practice in order to:
- plan and structure his findings
- draft key chapters, executive summaries, key findings and recommendations
- Creative approaches to dissemination, identifying different audiences and using a variety of outputs and platforms including social media and video reports to maximise impact and reach of the findings.