Metholodogical Expertise

Focused Discussion Groups and Depth Interviews

Focused Discussion Groups. Focus groups are a proven qualitative research tool. TRAC knows how to use this technique and how to adjust it to extract the needed information. We are well versed in innovative procedures that can help minimize the sampling and response bias associated with traditional focus groups. We use projective techniques to help delve below superficial answers and we frequently recommend “expert” panels or other sampling techniques that improve information quality.

Depth Interviews. One on one interviews are used to probe deeply into a participant's thoughts, reasons or motivations for behavior. This method also provides information that is free from the influence of other participants – a requirement for some topics of study. Typically this type of interview is conducted using a laddering technique. In laddering, a respondent's answers are followed up with yet more questions on the same topic, creating a ladder of related questions, until you have exhausted a particular line of inquiry.

While face to face interaction is usually the preferred method for our qualitative research projects, we have successfully conducted focus groups and depth interviews via the telephone and internet.

Survey Research

Telephone Surveys.Telephone surveys are typically the simplest, most accurate and most cost-effective method of studying broad populations. They remain the dominant method for quantitative data collection that is used for gauging the opinions and attitudes of the general population, or any other sub-group where a random sample is needed. Telephone surveys are used for a large variety of research studies, including community engagement research, brand tracking, donor preferences, competitive research, segmentation analysis, and many other topics. Our team has wide-ranging experience in the design, execution and analysis of telephone surveys. TRAC works with the best telephone interviewers in the country. We can supplement landline samples with mobile phone numbers and we help clients determine when that is necessary.

Online Surveys. Internet survey is a solid option if respondent e-mail lists exist and if the population being studied is web responsive. They are effective with positively predisposed populations such as donors or members of an association. Another advantage is that web surveys can be turned around quickly. The major drawback of web surveys is their response rates which are typically very low. Consequently the results are heavily influenced by non-response bias. TRAC recommends outside sources of information to help verify and validate any results collected via a web survey.

Secondary Analysis & Lit Reviews

Analysis of Existing Data. Frequently the answers to the most pertinent questions lie in existing data that has not been utilized to the fullest extent. This type of analysis is more cost effective than new data collection efforts. TRAC is expert at working with existing datasets and teasing out answers. We use innovative approaches, intuitive comparisons, and provide insightful and clear explanations of the results. TRAC continually assesses the quality of the data and accounts for limitations during the investigation. We are experienced at identifying datasets that make the analysis more meaningful, merging together disparate datasets, and projecting the results to the future or to related populations. We have successfully used secondary analysis for competitive analyses, performance of subpopulations, cohort tracking, customer or stakeholder satisfaction levels, and future memberships or enrollment analysis.

Lit Reviews. TRAC has a team of experienced researchers that know how to conduct a lit review. We read the books and journals, and find the most relevant writings on a subject. We know how to summarize and synthesize prior research and present a concise explanation on the topic of interest. We know library sciences and have that expertise on staff. Our academic background makes us excel in this area.

Community Engagement Research

These projects, which we refer to as “Listening Projects,” are multifaceted studies that focus on identifying opportunities and challenges facing a community. Typically TRAC collects information from many groups of stakeholders including contributors, major donors, business and community leaders, members of the board, online communities and the community at large. Data collection methods include discussion groups, town meetings, depth interviews, telephone surveys and online surveys. The breadth of the project translates to a complete and compelling picture of issues facing the community. That puts the organization sponsoring the research in control, allowing them to assemble groups of partners that can work together to resolve problems. In the past, Listening Project results have been so compelling that partnerships have developed with all sectors including other non-profits, the public sector, and the business community.

These projects are for organizations that are committed to strengthening their community by partnering with others to create more impact. TRAC is the expert at this type of community engagement project and we can make it work for your organization.