Tuesday May 21, 2013
What makes good research? This is something that many of our PR, internal comms and public affairs diploma students are grappling with right now as they embark on their final assignments.
So what is the answer and why does it even matter? It matters because our communication campaigns are never going to bring the desired results if they are based on flawed research. As communication professionals we need to be able to interpret research, spot flawed research and design or commission effective research. Of course no research is without its limitations and that's fine, as long as they are acknowledged.
Just recently the Daily Mail reported that stress can raise cholesterol (being a Virgo and therefore a hypochondriac I spotted this!). However, I know from reading on one day that chocolate is good for you - and so stuffing my face with it - only to read the next day that it is bad for you, that we should treat such claims with caution. My first port of call to check the facts is always NHS Choices and their explanation of the research on which the Daily Mail article was based is a brilliant. What is really interesting is their dissection of the research methodology and the limitations which actually undermine the claim made by the Daily Mail. It is written in excellent Plain English too.
I really would commend the NHS Choices piece to anyone who wants to understand more about research, research limitations and how to draw conclusions. You might also like Kevin Ruck's recent blog on the relationship between sun, ice cream and employee engagement (sort of).
Meanwhile, I am not taking any chances and am off to do some deep breathing relaxation exercises to bring my stress levels down!