4.1 Introduction

To get started, you need to plan your research activities. Careful planning will help you to produce useful and useable research findings.

The first step in this planning process is to think about why you are conducting each piece of research.

  • Is it to give you a better understanding of the people and communicative ecologies in the area?
  • Is it to help prepare an evaluation report for your donors?
  • Is it to find out why a particular group of people have engaged with your ICT initiative more than another?

Each of these objectives requires a different approach and a different output.

The next step therefore is to work out what kind of research is required.

The first reason listed above would require some broad research. It might help you to identify the main local issues that your initiative might address. The second and third reasons would require more targeted research. All of your broad research will provide important contextual information and understandings for any targeted research. [ Broad and Targeted research ]

Broad research might help you to describe local communicative ecologies to your colleagues so that you can explore how your ICT initiative can tap into and enhance them. It might help you to identify groups and communities that you think it might be useful to work with, around issues that you have come across. It will also help you to develop themes for further, targeted research to deepen your understandings of particular groups and issues.

Targeted research can be designed specifically to evaluate some of your goals, to see how you are doing in relation to some useful indicators. It can also be used to challenge those goals, and redefine what makes useful indicators. Equally, it can be designed to explore in more detail any interesting issues that emerge from your other research.

The final step is to consider what resources you will need to conduct your research plan, and what resources you have access to. You may need to adjust your plan accordingly.

Research planning is essential.

In this Getting started section you will learn how to develop research plans for each research activity you undertake.