What is research?
Research involves collecting and analysing data to answer a particular question. For example, EPIC have done research on young people’s experiences of taking part in their Child in Care Reviews (published in 2014).
Research can be done in many different ways, for example, by using surveys, carrying out interviews or doing a focus group. These are examples of primary research, where the information is collected from research participants. Secondary sources of data can also be used – this means information that already exists, for example, official statistics, published literature reviews and other research studies.
EPIC carry out both primary and secondary research to provide a better understanding of the important issues facing children and young people in care or young adults with care experience. EPIC is also involved in research being done by other organisations in relation to children and young people in care, for example, the Children’s Mental Health Coalition.
There are important ethical principles to take into account when doing primary research, in particular:
- Voluntary informed consent – make sure that research participants know what is involved in taking part and agree voluntarily to do so
- Confidentiality and anonymity – all the data should be confidential and nobody who took part should be identified (except where someone says something that raises concerns about their safety or that of someone else).
- Doing no harm – ensure that taking part in the research will not have negative results for participants both during and after they take part.
- Respectful and non-judgemental – listen to what people say and avoid making disapproving comments.
Why do research?
- To find out more information about a particular issue, especially something that may not have been researched before.
- To obtain other people’s point of view and get a better understanding of their experiences.
- To contribute to current knowledge and provide more evidence about a topic.
- To build links with other people doing research in the same area.
- To make recommendations for change where needed.
Using research to make change?
It is important to have supporting evidence when making any recommendations for change especially in relation to government policy. Sometimes change can be slow and it may take many research reports all saying the same thing before change happens.