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INTRODUCTIONTO THE GUIDEWithout high-quality insight we’re unable tosee beyond our own knowledge.Long-held assumptions can stop the sportand physical activity sector engaging withpeople outside of our traditional strongholds.And that means we can’t appeal to newaudiences – people who are so important tothe success of Sport England’s new Towardsan Active Nation strategy.Insight is only as good as the research thatunderpins it – so this guide is designed tohelp you carry out top-quality research thathas a big impact on your organisationalgoals. And it doesn’t have to be expensiveor complex. The key is being clear aboutwhat you’re trying to understand. What doyou need to know? Once that’s set in stone,it’s time to use the most suitable approachto your research. This guide helps you toestablish both. That’s why we’ve split thepublication into two distinct parts – firstly, anintroduction to research itself – and secondly,how to choose your methodology.The guide can be used in different ways;perhaps you want to increase your understandingof research, how it is carried out, and how itmight help your organisation. In which case,you might like to focus more on the first chapter.Or you might already be working on a researchproject or have one in mind, and want to lookdeeper into specific aspects of the designor different methodologies. In this case, youmight like to use the index to jump to specificareas of interest.Whatever your goal, the guide is designed tohelp you to decide where research can be usefulfor your organisation, and provide guidancearound how to select the best approach.If you have any outstanding queries afterreviewing this guide, please get in touch withyour Sport England contact for more information.I really hope you find this guide a usefulresource to draw on as you plan and developyour research programmes in this excitingnew era for sport and physical activity.Lisa O’ KeefeDirector of InsightSport EnglandSport England: Guide to Research3

CONTENTSCHAPTER 1 – AN INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH7Section 1 – What is research and when is it needed?81a. The definition of research1b. Deciding when research is needed1c. The role of secondary and desk research1d. Internal vs. external researchSection 2 – The project life cycle12Section 3 - Defining the research objectives and writing a brief14Section 4 – Quantitative and qualitative research18Section 5 – Defining and recruiting your sample20Section 6 – Some quick tips for conducting research24CHAPTER 2 – CHOOSING A SUITABLE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 27Section 1 – Introduction to methodologies282a. Overview of the project life cycle and timings2b. Stakeholder engagement throughout the project life cycle3a. Translating a business question into a research objective3b. Sharing your objectives4a. Quantitative research4b. Qualitative research4c. Integrated research approaches5a. Defining your sample5b. Recruiting your sample6a. Tips for conducting quantitative research6b. Tips for conducting qualitative research1a. The stages of development1b. Research methodologies: choosing the right approachSurveysFocus groupsDepth interviews / accompanied journeysDiscourse cept testingTracking surveysProject evaluationSport England: Guide to 35363738395


SECTION 1: WHAT IS RESEARCHAND WHEN IS IT NEEDED?1A. THE DEFINITION OF RESEARCHResearch is the process of gathering andinterpreting information. It can involveexploring and understanding people’sbehaviours, attitudes, experiences, needsand desires, with the purpose of helping acompany or organisation to make businessdecisions regarding their target audiences.It can also be used to find out aboutorganisations and markets; understandingmore about providers such as clubs,universities or commercial suppliers.It can involve quantitative methods (onlinesurveys, questionnaires) that provide morerobust and measurable data around particularaspects of a target audience (see section 4in this chapter for a full definition). It can involvequalitative methods (e.g. focus groups,ethnography, depth interviews) that allow fora more in-depth exploration of the consumerand their world (see section 4 in this chapterfor a full definition). Either way, researchhelps uncover information about a targetaudience that will help organisations to moreeffectively connect with people (via policy,communications, products, services etc).Research is often used to: Understand more about specificaudiences – e.g. where they live, theirlifestyles, attitudes, motivations andbarriers to physical activity, currentbehaviour patterns and triggers Develop new offers, services and marketing– e.g. things that will encourage people tochange, or support/sustain their behaviourCHAPTER 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH1B. DECIDING WHEN RESEARCH IS NEEDEDSo how do you decide if research will benefityour organisation? There are lots of factorsthat feed into the decision to conduct orcommission a piece of research. To enableyou to navigate this, we’ve outlined the belowflow of questions you might like to consider.But first and foremost, you need to have aparticular business question or objective.It may be that you have more than onebusiness question or objective; if this is theQUICK CHECK CHARTAnswer these questions to find outif research is needed Track audience attitudes and behaviour,or shifts in the market landscape – interest in physical activity, or inparticular offers and services changes orevolves over time Understand more about providers orsuppliers – e.g. the role they play inimplementing initiatives or supportingbehaviour change.Running through these questions will allowyou to determine whether research will helpyou to achieve your business goals.Do you have a business question orobjective i.e. something that you or internalstakeholders need to find a solution to?YESDo you need a greater understandingof your audience / provider / marketlandscape to be able to develop a solution?NOYESResearch explores audience or provider behaviours,experiences and needs, and market landscape.If you do not need extra understanding of thesethings, research may not be necessaryHave you explored any existing researchwithin the organisation or Sport Englandon this topic area?NOYESTake some time to explore the secondaryresearch you have available to you; youmay find the answers you require withoutneeding to conduct new research (seesection 1c. in this chapter for guidance)NOConsider conducting an external researchproject (see section 1d. in this chapterfor guidance)Sport England: Guide to Researchcase, take each one in turn and run throughthe below process to decide whetherresearch is needed to help answer themindividually, or if they are best addressedtogether. It might be that for one objective,you don’t actually need research.Do you have internal resource(time/expertise) available to design,conduct, and interpret researchto answer your question?YESConsider conducting an internal researchproject (see section 1d. in this chapterfor guidance)9

CHAPTER 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH1C. THE ROLE OF SECONDARYRESEARCH1D. INTERNAL VS.EXTERNAL RESEARCHSecondary or desk research can be used to helpyou understand a little more about a particulartopic or target audience, and to help you decideif you need to conduct primary research to helpyou answer your business question or objective.This can involve exploring what relevant researchhas been conducted internally at yourorganisation, or by us – our research can beaccessed here: can also look online for other publicresearch resources that may be useful e.g.government data, academic papers, Officefor National Statistics data, British Libraryresources etc. Reviewing existing reports orfurther analysing existing data may help you tofind the answers you need.There are no set rules as to when to conductresearch internally vs. when to use anexternal partner, but a few considerationsare outlined below.You may not find all the information you’re lookingfor, e.g. the existing research may be outdated,incomplete or doesn’t cover the exact informationyou need, and you may therefore feel furtherresearch is required to explore the topic at hand.In this instance, the secondary research you haveconducted will help you to identify where the gapsin your understanding lie, allow you to develophypothesises and provide a broader, contextualunderstanding of the topic or audience. Thisknowledge will help to shape the areas ofexploration for the research (your researchobjectives) as well identify the most interestingand relevant people to talk to (your sample).If you choose to partner with an external supplier(see the next section for more detail on suppliertypes), it’s best practice to share any relevantprevious research presentations or reportswith them when the project is commissioned,to help ensure the new research builds on(and does not duplicate) existing insight.“SECONDARY RESEARCH CAN BE USED TO HELPYOU UNDERSTAND A LITTLE MORE ABOUT APARTICULAR TOPIC”Sport England: Guide to ResearchConducting research internallyYou may choose to conduct researchinternally for some of the following reasons: The resources exist internally to conductthe research – if you have people with thetime and expertise to conduct the research The target audience is very easy toaccess – you may for example have aCustomer Relationship Management(CRM) database that provides easyaccess to your target audience (e.g.current club members for a particularsport, or facility users) When the research question is simple– sometimes the question you needanswered can be really straightforward,such as people’s preference between twooptions for naming a new initiative The financial budget is limited – byconducting research internally you may stillincur costs (e.g. need to pay a fee to recruitrespondents or to hire a research venue),but you will not need to pay a supplier toconduct and manage the research.Conducting research externallyYou may choose to conduct researchexternally for some of the following reasons: When you need an impartial perspective– often research is conducted byan external supplier as they are anindependent ‘voice’ that is not influencedby internal discussions or politics arounda particular topic within an organisation.This means stakeholders can trust thatresearch findings are unbiased and reliable. When the research question is complex –many external suppliers have specialisms inparticular topics or sectors (such as sportsresearch) or methodologies (such asquantitative or qualitative research). If yourresearch question/s are multi-layered,complicated or broad in scope, you mayprefer to enlist the help of an external supplierwho is an expert in the field, and can drawon their knowledge and experience to helpyou address your business objectives. When there are limited internal resourcesto conduct the research – if there aren’tpeople in the organisation with the time,knowledge and experience to conduct theresearch to the required standard. When the target audience is less accessibleor the sample is larger – external suppliershave well-established relationships with arange of providers who can recruit almostany sample required, even very nicheaudiences, large samples or harder toreach people (see section 5 in this chapterfor more detail on sampling).Types of external supplierIf you decide to approach an external supplierto conduct the research for you, it’s importantto consider the different types of suppliersavailable, and make sure you go for one thatcan best meet your specific research needs.The main types of external supplier that canhelp you with research are listed below: Full service research agencies: willmanage the entire research process foryou, from design through to reporting.They often specialise in a particular sector(e.g. sports research, media researchetc.) or a particular type of research (e.g.qualitative or quantitative research, or theycan be integrated agencies doing both). ield and tab research agencies: will onlyFmanage the data collection (fieldwork) and/or data tabulation for you. Sometimes theywill also include a brief summary of the results.This service is applicable to quantitativeresearch (we will be covering this in moredetail in section 4 of this chapter). onsultants: usually operateCindependently and often specialise in aparticular type of research or sector. Theymay not offer a full service approach andmay work in collaboration with suppliersor agencies when conducting research. cademics: specialise in a particularAtopic and are often brought into researchprojects to offer expert advice andguidance in a consultative capacity.They can help to ensure the research iswell-informed or cutting-edge.The MRS research buyers’ guide gives moreguidance around how to select a Remember,whatever you choose, if you are outsourcingthe research, you play a crucial role inmanaging it, checking it is meeting yourobjectives throughout the process, andproviding the link between stakeholders andthe supplier to ensure their objectives are met.“IF YOU APPROACH AN EXTERNAL SUPPLIER.MAKE SURE YOU GO FOR ONE THAT CAN BESTMEET YOUR SPECIFIC RESEARCH NEEDS”TEST YOURSELF ON WHATYOU HAVE LEARNT SO FARWhat is research? What factors contribute to thedecision to conduct research? Why is it important to conduct deskresearch before a project starts? What are the considerations whendeciding whether to conductresearch internally or externally?11

SECTION 2: THE PROJECTLIFE CYCLE23Defining yourresearch objectivesFIRM UP THERESEARCH SISFIELD WORK2A. OVERVIEW OF THE PROJECTLIFE CYCLE AND TIMINGSAlthough project stages and timings can varydependent on the project, and 1whether it isbeing conducted internally or externally, aDefining yourtypical flow and some typical timings haveresearch objectivesbeen included as a broad indication below.7 Defining your research objectives/FINDINGS brief written by client (see sectionresearch3 of this chapter for more information). Recruitment – sample is sourced. Usuallytakes around 2-3 weeks, but it can bequicker if using an online panel sampleor take longer for low incidence or largersamples (see section 5 for more detail).2 Questionnaires(for quantitativeFIRMUP THERESEARCHAPPROACHresearch)or discussion guides (forqualitative research) are written3 (basedon research objectives), andany stimulusRECRUITMENTmaterials created (see section 6 for moredetail). This usually takes 1-2 weeksdepending on 4the scope of project.65- Research approachdesignedQUESTIONNAIRESANALYSIS suppliers FIELD WORK internally/externalFieldwork– r

TO RESEARCH Sport England: Guide to Research. CHAPTER 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH Sport Enland Gide to Research 9 1A. THE DEFINITION OF RESEARCH Research is the process of gathering and interpreting information. It can involve exploring and understanding people’s