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Doing research together

Designing questions

This task sets the framework for your whole research project. In using a community-led research approach, this is where local or community input is crucial for informing the research from their perspective. Follow a sequence from big questions to sub-questions to deciding the type of data that would best explore your research topic. Often using a mix of open/closed questions and qualitative/quantitative data works best. See designing questions resource.

Deciding who to ask

Unless you plan to do a large community survey, it is a good idea to focus on a targeted audience. One way to do this is to make a list of individuals, groups and roles as potential information sources for example: committee or board members, service users, volunteers, participants from different communities; young people, men, women, families etc. Also identify the strategic stakeholders such as local councillors, funders, key agencies and organisations. Think about targeting. Who do we most want to talk to? Who will provide important insights to our research questions?

Choosing your research method/s

Some common research methods include surveys, interviews and focus groups, but there are lots of other options to choose from such as the more participatory approaches like the World Café method and participatory appraisal methods such as participatory learning and action. Websites, text books and manuals all provide information about research methods. Have a look at the evaluation tools (also useful for research) available from Evaluation Support Scotland. What is important is that you choose methods that fit your research goals, the skills and confidence of the Community Researchers and the audiences that you are targeting.

Collecting your data

This includes a number of practical tasks such as planning your data collection timetable and deciding who will work with who to collect the data. (It is a good idea to work in pairs for support and to make recording easier). Record your interviews/discussions either by making notes or by using a digital recorder or both. Which method you use will generate different quantities of data. Think ahead about how you will collect and collate all of the data.


  • Piloting your research tools provides valuable practice, learning and confidence building.
  • Think about the scope of your research – be realistic, a small scale study might be a good way to prepare for a much broader piece of research.
  • Revisit your Code of Practice to remind everyone about what makes good research.


Code Resource Description
3a Designing questions Guidance of how to design research questions and the sorts of questions available – open/closed.
3b Simultaneous survey An activity to design and practice carrying out a quick survey.