Archive for the ‘Social Research’ Category

Archive for the ‘Social Research’ Category

How much data do I need for my research project?

This is a common question we get asked, and one that needs careful consideration because talking to the right number of people or getting a significant number of people to answer your survey is vital to the statistical reliability of your research.

But how do you know how many respondents are enough? How big does a sample need to be in order to accurately reflect the attitudes / opinions of a population / the group of people who you want to understand?

Firstly, it is vital to establish who your population is: if you were doing an all-inclusive employee survey – this would be the entire workforce. If you wanted to find out how and why people use public parks in a particular city, your population would be the number of residents of that specific city.

Once you have figured out your population size, the next step is to consider how certain you need to be that the answers you collect reflect the views of the population as a whole.

In all of our surveys, we specifically consider statistical reliability of the sample size and use confidence levels and intervals.

‘Confidence interval’ is the plus-or-minus figure usually reported in newspaper or television opinion poll results. For example, if you use a confidence interval of 4 and 47% percent of your sample picks an answer you can be “sure” that if you had asked the question of the entire relevant population between 43% (47% – 4%) and 51% (47% + 4%) would have picked that answer.

The ‘confidence level’ is the likelihood of the sample accurately reflecting your population. A 95% confidence level means that if you were to repeat a sample of the same population you would get the same results 95% of the time – This is the most commonly used confidence level and if used, you can therefore say you are 95% certain (plus or minus the confidence level, as above) that the results are true of your whole population.

So how big does the data sample need to be?

This handy little table shows you a rough guide:

Sample size table

As you can see the calculation is not proportionally linear and there is a point when populations in excess of one million will generate the same sample size. At Mackman, we make certain you have the correct sample size for your research, so if you have a research project you would like to discuss, please get in touch.

New MRS Code of Conduct

The Market Research Society (MRS) has launched and updated a new edition of their Code of Conduct, which will come in to effect on 1st September 2014, and is relevant for market, social and opinion research. The Code is significant to the research industry because it underpins ethical research, best practice guidance, legal instruction and ‘exists to protect the entire research supply chain’. With the fast revolutionising research market facing questions about the collection and use of personal data, the MRS Code of Conduct is crucial in helping to protect and regulate first-rate research practice. This gives everyone concerned greater assurance in research from the research providers who adhere to the Code, through to buyers and research participants.

Jane Frost, the Chief Executive of MRS, has said: “The UK research sector is worth more than £3bn and it’s growing. The emergence of massive datasets and the public’s concern around privacy are just two examples of challenges to the sector that didn’t exist ten years ago, let alone sixty. The updated Code is the bedrock on which this sector will continue to flourish - it ensures that research is legal, ethical and transparent, and that is critical to customer and consumer trust.”

Our research director, Gemma Mackman, is a member of the MRS and thus all research carried out by Mackman Research , whether business to business, social, online, telephone, qualitative or quantitative, is executed in accordance with with the rules and regulations.

Our researchers also conform to the Code and follow strict procedures. We are always direct with our introductions when conducting research on behalf of our clients and offer an explanation as to why we are conducting the research. All responses are collected in a strictly confidential manner and in such instance both clients and participants remain anonymous throughout and breaches of confidence do not occur under any circumstances.

 

Amanda visits the SRA conference

The Social Research Association held its 'Social Media in Social Research' annual conference in London on the 24th June 2013. Our senior researcher Amanda attended the daylong event which saw presentations from a wide range of speakers including academics with experience in researching social media. The day started with a presentation by Dr Farida Vis who was part of the research team for the "Reading the Riots" collaboration with The Guardian. The project analysed 2.6 million tweets during the 2012 summer riots in London. Dr Vis is at the forefront of social media research and talked about the data challenges surrounding social media research, existing methodologies, technical difficulties and questions regarding bias, sampling and anonymity. A further Skillslab in the afternoon looked at analysing information through images; coding techniques, authenticity of the social media image, how images move and circulate and how they are received/construed by the viewer.

There were queries from the floor about best practice advice and these were picked up and discussed further by Kandy Woodfield at NSMNSS (New Social Media New Social Science) and the ethics panel discussion at the end of the day. These 'rules' are being discussed now by specialists in the social media social research field. Subsequently, social researchers can go forward ethically with a balance being struck between all parties.

Brian Kelly from the University of Bath highlighted the benefits of social media optimisation which can extend, promote and support research activity. Claire Meehan from the University of Auckland described how she started with a traditional focus group methodology to explore young people's use of drugs to then analysing social media to gain further insight into how the young construct their drugs knowledge.

Two presentations looked at social media user's views on social media research and privacy/ethics. Both of these studies (one academic/ one commercial) showed that there is a wide difference in what people think about how their information is being used and shared online, with a majority believing Twitter is more public than Facebook, which is considered more family orientated and therefore more private. A whole different set of concerns were raised when discussing the level of dissemination at which people's opinion is used. Dr Nicola Stanley discussed the online recruitment process and explored privacy behaviours from an online panel of 354 participants.

Amanda commented, "The day was inspiring and created meaningful debate surrounding social media research. One clear thing that came out of the conference, was that social media is blurring the edges between traditional research recruitment, methodology and process and social researchers are calling for additional guidelines of social media research methods that are easy to use and understand in terms of privacy control and integrity".

Social Media in Social Research London Conference 2013

SRA

Our senior researcher Amanda is looking forward to attending the Social Research Association’s annual conference on Monday 24th June in London. The daylong event is titled ‘Social Media in Social Research’ and will explore the value of social media to social researchers. The programme is chockfull with interesting speakers from the world of social research including academics with experience in researching social media and representatives from NatCen (National Centre for Social Research). The day will cover a number of thought-provoking areas including using social media to enhance research activity, understanding the ethical implications of social media research and exploring the behaviour of social media users. There will also be a skills workshop to help researchers develop their technical know-how. Amanda says, “I am keen to discover more about the hot topics surrounding social media in social research and to consider how things are taking shape in this new and changing area of research. I think it is really important to understand the value of social media research and how this can be conducted using competent methodologies which also consider the wider ethical and technical implications. I’m excited about learning new skills and look forward to giving feedback to the team at Mackman.”

For more information about the event, visit http://the-sra.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Social-Media-event-flyer-final.pdf

Customer Research – Mixed Methodology

Background

Mackman Research was commissioned by Eastern IFCA to conduct a benchmark awareness survey to understand stakeholder awareness and engagement, across Eastern IFCAís three counties (Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk). In particular, assessing the role that Eastern IFCA has in the coastal community and measuring the level of understanding for Eastern IFCAís change of emphasis towards sustainability as well as their requirement to balance social and economic benefits of sea fisheries against exploitation. Eastern IFCA needed the research to inform them about how well they are doing to meet these objectives, and also to identify where they need to target their engagement activities in the future. They also wanted the research to create a set of bench mark measurements against which Eastern IFCA can show progress.

Approach

To achieve the highest response rate possible, Mackman Research used a mixed approach using a combination of an online survey (by email), telephone survey and face to face interviews for the more difficult to reach populations. Within each main stakeholders group we identified sub-user groups which shared the same attributes and characteristics of the key stakeholder group. Because of this, we recommended the project employ a random stratified methodology. All surveys were anonymous and respondents were notified of this.

Each sub-group were contacted by an email address (if supplied) and by telephone if a number was available. The online survey was ëliveí over the course of two and a half weeks. During this time, three reminder emails were sent. Telephone contacts were sent a letter from Eastern IFCA informing them of the awareness survey and that a researcher from Mackman would be calling. The telephone survey lasted approximately six minutes with a Mackman researcher. Several respondents asked for the survey to be emailed and were sent a ëliveí link to the online version of the questionnaire. The face to face interviews took place over two days. The fieldwork crucially needed to consider the weather and the tides. Fieldwork took place in Southwold / Aldeburgh and the North Norfolk stretch of coastline between Cley next the Sea and Cromer, respectively. A paper version of the survey was used to question members of the public at all of these locations. Participation was monitored and when one group was found to have a low response rate, more contacts from this grouping where sought.

219 respondents completed the online and telephone survey, achieving a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of +/-6.6%, from a population of 528. In addition to this, 64 face to face qualitative interviews were conducted during the fieldwork stage

Results

The awareness research has been valuable to Eastern IFCA and assisted the government organisation in targeting their future engagement activities. To help Eastern IFCA accomplish this, Mackman Research considered the coastal users' level of understanding and ratings for Eastern IFCA priorities. The research identified areas for improved communication and the importance of reaching out to hard to reach populations. The investigation has also helped Eastern IFCA think about their broader marketing and how how they can expand their current offering to members of the public and the fishing community.

 

 

 

Eastern IFCA survey screen example

Eastern IFCA survey screen example

 

 

 

 

 

Mackman Research completes awareness campaign for eastern fisheries authority

Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation AuthorityMackman Research is delighted to have worked with the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (EIFCA) to complete a bench mark awareness study. The study took part at the end of last year and was commissioned by EIFCA to understand stakeholder awareness and engagement across Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. The purpose of the study was to assess the awareness/engagement of key stakeholders since the introduction of IFCA’s by the government in April 2011. The job of an IFCA is to sustainably manage inshore fisheries in their local area.

The survey set out to assess and measure the level of understanding by the coastal community for EIFCA’s change towards sustainability as well as their requirement to balance social and economic benefits of sea fisheries against exploitation. In summary the survey sought to demonstrate how well EIFCA are ‘recognised and heard’ by its stakeholders across commercial, community, conservation and recreational populace.

To achieve the highest response rate possible, Mackman Research used a mixed approach using a combination of an online survey (by email), telephone survey and face to face interviews. Qualitative face to face surveys were used to gain a response from more difficult to reach populations.

Client Lead, Sara Cullis said, “Our research team thoroughly enjoyed collecting the data for this study. Sustainable fishing has become a hot topic in government policy circles following a high profile ‘fish fight’ campaign which raised the case for fairer fishing quotas for fishermen and since the IFCA’s replaced the Sea Fisheries Committees in 2011. The study highlights some of the concerns which lay behind this move. Chiefly, the survey results provide EIFCA with robust data so they can move forward and target key stakeholders with engagement activities this year, strengthening coastal community cohesion on the subject of a sustainable seashore for all.”

Phillip Haslam, CEO of EIFCA, "We were impressed by the final report showing comprehensible results and recommendations. Immediately, we felt Mackman understood the requirements of the research. The team were easy to talk to, enthusiastic and worked hard to bring the project in on time and to a tight timescale and budget. We are looking forward to making the most of the research, to create and deliver a targeted engagement activity programme. We would highly recommend Mackman Research for research projects."

If you have an enquiry for quantitative or qualitative research, please contact us at customerservice@mackmangroup.co.uk or telephone 01787 3788038


Moving on up…

Mackman Group new office, Sudbury, Suffolk

Mackman Group new office, Sudbury, Suffolk

With the Mackman team continually growing as demand for business increases, the company is moving into a bigger office. The company has acquired a new building in Sudbury, just down the road from the current premises.

The design and technical departments have moved into the new building already, with the marketing, research and publicity teams moving down later in the year. Being a bunch of creatives, everyone has plenty of ideas as to how the new space can be decorated!

This exciting news marks an important step forward for the Group as its steady and significant growth has enabled this move. The new building has plenty of office space, multiple meeting rooms, on site parking and a rose-filled outside space. Watch this space for news of a 'House Warming' party in the New Year!

Mackman Research work wins top prize at the Government Business Awards

Mackman Researchers Gemma and Abi

Mackman researchers, Abi and Gemma, are delighted with the award

The annual Government Business Awards, which encourage and reward effective business practises in the public sector across the country, yesterday presented Mackman Research clients, Chelmsford Borough Council, with the top prize for Market Research. The award was won in recognition of the Council's Parks Audit which was carried out by Mackman Research in 2009. The winners were announced at Twickenham Stadium and presented by Bill Turnbull (BBC News).

In particular the research sought to discover why low income groups within the Borough are low users of public parks and gardens. Mackman devised the methodology, designed the questionnaire, collected the data, analysed the information and prepared and delivered the findings report. Our staff were out and about in Chelmsford not only in the parks, but directly targeting respondents at the Job Centre, the Benefits Office and via door-to-door interviews. The project was the first of its kind within the UK.

Officers from the Parks and Heritage Services, said: “The Mackman Group team had a professional, collaborative, ‘can do’ approach to the project and we were impressed with their flexibility and expertise. The final report was clear and in depth and a great piece of research.”

Gemma said: “The project was challenging but enjoyable and the fact that our research will assist the Council in encouraging more of Chelmsford’s residents to enjoy the wonderful parks that they have on their doorsteps made the project extremely worthwhile.”

Sure Start Award Social Research Contract

Sure Start  have commissioned the social research services of Mackman Research to measure customer satisfaction levels.  The project will survey the views of parents and carers who use the services of Sure Start Hyndburn.  It is anticipated that data collection will commence in April with analysis and final reporting delivered by the end of May.  This is not the first time that Mackman Research have undertaken qualitative and quantitative research on behalf of Sure Start.  The results will compare current findings with previous research.

Age Concern Given Helping Hand

Work is underway on a research project aimed at enabling Age Concern to become more customer centric.  Not only will the exercise help Age Concern understand the needs of older people in the county better, but it is also expected to raise some important questions, which will help the organisation drive forward new ideas in the future.  Mackman Research is providing the work on a pro-bono basis.