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Field Research Tips

The Field Research Survival Guide is a collection of research narratives from veteran social and behavioral science researchers which aims to help researchers navigate the real-life problems projects can stumble upon.  Arlene Rubin Stiffman, Ph.D, the editor, is a Senior Scholar and the Barbara A. Bailey Professor of Social Work, Emeritus, at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis.  In the excerpt below, taken from an article by Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood and Sarah McCue Horwitz, we learn the steps to remember when launching a research project.  These steps are looked at in more detail in the chapter “Balancing Science and Services: The Challenges and Rewards of Field Research.”

Points to Remember

-Steps toward launching scientifically valid research

  • Step 1: Openily acknowledge the differing purpose between the goals of research and goals of the practice setting, then identify the shared aims for both.
  • Step 2: Create an advisory board to guide the research project.
  • Step 3: Be clear about roles and boundaries.  Set up organizational structures to respect those roles and manage the project, but remain flexible and be prepared to change these structure if new needs arise.
  • Step 4: Structure the research project to reflect collaboration between research and field staff.  Be flexible.
  • Step 5: Be prepared for the funding priorities of the grantor to shift.  If they do, remain flexible and responsive but do not compromise the integrity of the study.
  • Step 6: Make the budget, staffing, and research goals explicit and transparent.
  • Step 7: Share the credit and do not surprise colleagues.

-The community intervention development model

  • Step 1: Developing and creating a manual for Protocol.
  • Step 2: Efficacy trial.
  • Step 3: Single-case applications.
  • Step 4: Initial effectiveness trial.
  • Step 5: Full effectiveness trial.
  • Step 6: Effectiveness of moderators and mediators.
  • Step 7: Goodness of fit within the organizational or practice context.
  • Step 8: Dissemination and quality in a variety of organizational and practice contexts.
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