Practicalities of research
This page includes guidance on different aspects of conducting research and evaluation.
Qualitative research is about talking to service users and (others) to get their views of a project and whether it has made a difference. This guide introduces you to the key ideas and practical suggestions on how to do it well.
Questionnaires are one of the main ways to collect evidence but they can be hard to get right and there are some common mistakes to avoid. This guidance provides general advice around using questionnaires and specific advice on designing them. It also looks at how to analyse the data you collect.
Using off the shelf tools to measure change
There are many existing questionnaires or tools you can use to measure change with service users. This guide raises issues to think about when choosing tools for your organisations and highlights some of the main ones already used by organisations in criminal justice.
Software to help with evidence collection
There is an increasing amount of software to help you collect and analyse data, much of which is free. This guide introduces you to some of these options and raises issues to consider.
Achieving user participation in evaluation
Getting the views of service users is integral to any research or evaluation but it can be a challenge, especially when service users have complex needs or live chaotic lives. This guide focuses on how to secure user involvement in research either as active participants or research subjects and suggests some approaches to try.
Achieving staff/volunteer commitment and participation in evaluation
Effective monitoring and evaluation depends on the active contribution of staff/volunteers.There are three ways in which staff may be involved:
They can contribute to designing your approach to evaluation
They may be asked to collect data from service users
They may be asked for their own views on what a project has achieved
This guidance discusses each of these. Download A guide to involving staff/volunteers in evaluation.
Introduction to sampling
Asking all your service users or partners to be involved in evaluation may be costly, time consuming and is unlikely to be feasible. The next best approach is to speak to some of them – also known as a sample. If you do decide to sample, you will still want to be confident that the findings are representative and valid. This guide summarises the different approaches you can take and some important principles.
Evaluating the impact made by volunteers - Clinks have developed a set of evaluation tools for volunteering projects run by voluntary sector organisations working around the Criminal Justice System.
These tools adapt sections of the Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit (VIAT), which is produced by the Institute for Volunteering Research, research wing of Volunteering England. The original VIAT is intended for use by all kinds of volunteer-involving organisations in all sectors of work. Clinks have adapted those generic tools specifically for use by organisations that work with offenders and their families.