3.5 Research findings, planning and action

What do we do with our research once we have worked out what the data is telling us?

The next step is to identify the main research findings and share these with the initiative. These findings can be used to help the initiative respond to local community needs and expectations, increase or aid sustainability, and work more effectively in their given social context. It can also be used to identify areas where further research is needed. At this stage as an EAR researcher you will need to think about:

  • What you have found out and how this information could be of use to the overall development of your initiative?
  • How can you put your research findings to use?
  • How can local community people benefit from this research and the findings?
  • How can this research best be used to identify other issues you need to explore?

Through undertaking the coding and analysis you will think of ways to develop your research and relate your research to your initiative. For example, based upon the repetition of codes regarding 'education' you may want to:

  • Interview teachers at local schools or private computer schools.
  • Have a group discussion with some users of your centre.
  • Include questions about education in your questionnaires.
  • Discuss this issue with initiative workers or bring it up at the next staff/management meeting.
  • Suggest organizing relevant local training courses that address issues from your analysis.

Reports and other written work should emerge from the research data. Analysis is an important step in putting your data to work and allowing it to be utilised in the community and by your initiative. Research findings can be disseminated both within the initiative and more widely. This is an evaluation of the initiative's work, what it has achieved, and identifies its strengths and weaknesses.

The research approach will allow a researcher and an initiative to ground this evaluation in the wider social context in which an initiative is working, and it will be possible to describe direct and indirect benefits that an initiative has delivered in great detail. This is a hugely valuable and rare resource and it places an initiative in a good position to decide what it needs to do to improve on its performance.

Armed with such findings, a project can PLAN actions, it can then DO them, and continue to OBSERVE and REFLECT (i.e. research) how these new actions work or don't work.

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Here we are again, back at the beginning of the initiative development cycle, only each time an initiative gets there it is armed with a better understanding of what is possible and how this might be best achieved.

An EAR researcher is continually investigating the ongoing impacts of his or her initiative, in what ways it is working, in what ways it can be improved, and is continuously building on the rich understanding of the initiative, its context, its possibilities and its potentials.