Why you need to start by asking a question

It might sound very obvious but the first step of a successful evaluation or research project is understanding why you are doing it.

Asking yourself ‘why do I want to do the this research?’ and ‘what do I want to learn from it?’ is the essential starting point when embarking on any research study.

In our guidance on planning your survey we describe how you need to define a research question. A research question is really just be a simple statement of what you want to find, for example:

How does the well-being of young people I work with change between the start and end of my programme?; or

Does my programme have a positive impact on the self-esteem and emotional health of girls?

This might sound simple but it is immensely valuable for helping to focus the mind. It also prevents you from making mistakes or wishing you’d done something differently later on.

Our ‘top tip’ is to invest time in this process. Don’t make the mistake of starting a survey without a clear sense of why you are doing it. Choose a clear and focused research question and you are sure to reap the rewards later on.

You can read our guidance on planning your research here.

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About John Copps

John is part of NPC's research and consulting team and is the founder of NPC's Well-being Measure, a social business that provides an online tool to measure young people’s well-being. He has eight years experience of research and consulting, and is passionate about how data can be used to improve the performance of organisations. John is a regular contributor to NPC's blog and has also contributed to pieces for BBC Radio, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. John is a governor of a secondary school.
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