Social Research for the 3rd sector

Make smarter decisions with tailored social research
Explore social interaction, group dynamics, the use of space, or the impact of legislation and social acts. Social research reveals the very source of any potential issue and identifies the ways in which experience is affected or altered. As a broad research type, it can delve into the social worlds that market research simply can't reach.

Social Research

How does social research work? And how is it different from market research?

Social research projects are quite different from market research projects in that they aim to examine social interactions. With less emphasis on products or services, social research projects seek to reveal the behavioural nuances that have come about as a means of navigating a social milieu.

Using a range of research methods, our social research service tends to steer towards ethnography and in-depth methods of data collection. Often coupled with secondary research, social research projects have the potential to trail blaze, disprove past hypotheses and create sound cases for legislative change. Social research projects are typically 'studies' that follow groups of people as they interact.

Whilst suited to academic studies, our social research service provides ideal research undertakings for third sector organisations such as charities. Here we can study the use of outdoor and urban spaces by teenagers, for example, in relation to anti-social behaviour or substance use. Studies such as these may or may not uncover a need for additional services, local educational programmes, or space re-modelling to encourage changes in behaviours. Similarly we can conduct social research projects that focus upon a particular time and space, such as a public event. Here we might consider how space is used and why certain features elicit cultural engagement.

Whatever your research concern, we can create a social research project that meets with your overall objectives. We are also happy to partner with you if you have already secured funding, bringing our expertise in research design and as field researchers to the mix.

Amanda conducting social research

From design to delivery, we deliver an unbiased and robust social research service.

We offer tailored research design to those organisations seeking to explore a pocket of our social world. Our services draw on our broad research offering to provide the best and most appropriate research methods, ensuring that your project gathers rich and valuable data. We can help you throughout any stage of your social research project, from initial design and planning, right the way through to the delivery and presentation of findings. 

Our expertise in research design means that we always aim to design out bias. In practice we conduct all of our research with the uppermost ethical considerations, placing an emphasis on the well-being of all our research participants at all times. As a third party research agency we design social research to be unbiased, which is why many organisations prefer to outsource such projects.  

How to plan social research...

Many established charities and third sector organisations require help with planning a social research project. Large scale or longitudinal studies require clear programmes that include data collection periods as well as time for reflection, review, and analysis. 

Our years of experience means that we can formulate concise and realistic research plans for you. Working with you to identify any in-house resources that you may have, resources gaps, funding conditions or financial constraints, we will create a timeline complete with clear instructions as to who performs a particular task at a specific point in time.   

Social Research data collection

At Mackman Research, we are experts in field research. This means that we know how to enact a research method in order to extract data whilst causing minimal effect on the social situation under observation. Social research methods need to be robust and we know how to use our practiced research skills to get close to our subjects with minimal influence on their behaviour.  

Be it face-to-face surveys, in-depth interviews, situational or participant observation, we will gather insightful and high quality data on your behalf. Working with you, we follow our carefully considered research plan, gathering data in a timely and effective manner.

Monitoring themes and changing direction

Having worked 'in the field' for many years, we know that we cannot predict human behaviour. That is why we are primed to expect the unexpected. If, and when, we notice themes emerging that require a change of direction or an alternative data collection method to be employed, we will review the project plan and consult with you. Here we will share our findings (to date) and make recommendations in order to make the right adjustments so that we stay on course to deliver an excellent study.

Analysing data and delivering findings

Social research projects can influence social policy. This is why it is important to get the method right, ensure that data collection is unbiased and non-influential, and that results are analysed to produce robust results that cannot be challenged. 

At Mackman Research, our analysis of ethnographic data produces clear and concise results. We apply analytical models and are happy to use reflexive approaches, if required. We often present our findings in report format, and add to our presentations by drawing on our design partners at Mackman to produce graphics to aid the visualisation of data.

Collaboration and presentation

As with all of our projects we actively encourage a collaborative approach to social research. Depending on your sector or disciplinary norms we can work with you to produce findings presentations. This process can involve the simple production of physical reports or PowerPoint presentations, for example. Alternatively, you may wish for us to attend conferences or present findings alongside you and your organisational representatives.

Post research support 

Not all social research projects end with the delivery of findings. We understand that once results have been digested some form of change may need to happen, and this is where your work really starts. At Mackman Research we support the post research stage with clear recommendations for future adjustments. Depending upon the results of the study there may be a need for further research - here we can formulate clear and concise plans to ensure that your data is acted upon and that the most appropriate method is selected to deliver any spin-off research. Our support can extend to answer any questions as you make your way through a process of disseminating information. 

Our expertise and enthusiasm makes Mackman Research the perfect research partner to either guide you through a particular aspect or deliver a comprehensive 'start to finish' social research project.

How we work

As with all of our projects, we like to get close to our clients and their social research projects. In practice this means that we may spend time with you so that we fully understand all of your project's aims and objectives. This 'kick off' stage is also crucial in gathering information about your organisation as we move forward to representing you 'in the field'.

The key to all of our projects is collaboration. At Mackman Research we actively encourage our clients to work with us to establish communication channels throughout all stages of the project. This is particularly important when researching social worlds, where we might observe behaviours that create challenges or have an effect on the overall research objectives. We work regular touch points into our project plans but will always get in touch if and when needed.

Our enthusiasm for all things research starts with the joy of working through an initial research problem, and continues right the way through to delivering meaningful and insightful findings. Having got to know your organisation and the needs of your project, we carefully plan out your research.

Having agreed upon an outline plan, we will walk you through our recommended methodology for data collection. Here we are always keen to share our research skills and, where appropriate, we are happy to train members of your in-house team to work alongside us.

Social research projects have very specific requirements and this is reflected in the presentation of research findings. Working with you, we will tailor our reports to meet with your presentation needs right through to delivery.

Working together on a whiteboard

Why Mackman Research?

Our social research team is headed up by Dr. Gemma Mackman who has a background in the social sector, and is an experienced and professional social researcher. Gemma established the company in 2003, following a career in the social sector and having completed a Masters Degree in Criminology. In 2020 she achieved a Doctorate at the University of Essex. Gemma is a member of the Market Research Society and the Social Research Association and is experienced in ethnographic research methods designed to reach sensitive groups. Gemma and her team share a passion for research and for ensuring that the voices of participants are heard.

Contact Mackman Research today and let's get started on your public consultation research project.

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