Normal Text
Medium Text
Large Text
Practical and ethical considerations

Whether a small-scale or major research project, there are a number of general principles and issues to consider at the planning stage. For example:


  • Is the research project time-bound? Have you set objectives that can be achieved within the timeframe of the project?
  • What resources (e.g. financial) and expertise (e.g. personnel with specific skills) are needed to carry out the research?  Are these resources available? What further help or advice is needed? Do any of those involved need training to undertake their roles? Is any new equipment or software needed? Are the objectives that have been set achievable within available resources?
  • Are there accurate/appropriate data available for the study? Can the necessary data be collected within the resource (e.g. time, budget) constraints?

Carrying out the research:

  • Who will be collecting, processing and analysing the data?
  • If an evaluation, will it be conducted internally or independently using external contractors?  External evaluation offers a measure of independence which can add weight to the validity of an evaluation. It also allows you to bring in specific skills and resources which may not be available in the project team.

Ethical/legal issues:

  • Does the research need ethical approval? If personal data is collected, then relevant data protection policies must be followed to ensure that the privacy and data protection rights of individuals are respected. For information about ethical research policies and requirements, see, for example, the Framework for Research Ethics by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).