Practical (Applied) Research
The importance of having complete and reliable information to support the decision making process is well known in principle, but is, perhaps, not always fully appreciated in practice. A lack of attention to the careful collection and consideration of such data and information often accounts for flaws in decisions, planning and, ultimately, in the desired results. In mission work, of course, stewardship considerations serve to heighten the responsibilities of decision makers in this regard. Fortunately in today’s world there exist excellent possibilities for acquiring the needed information from a variety of sources which can provide the required answers to the fundamental questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how.
The key is to approach this task in a scientific, systematic and disciplined manner, starting with a research plan. Ideally this plan is carefully designed to support the accumulation of all the primary critical and secondary practical information required in meeting the specific objectives of any given project. It is this plan that serves as the compass to keep the effort focused on the desired ultimate end.
The next phase is the actual acquisition of the needed information. Such tools as surveys, interviews, desk-level research using internet and conventional library resources, field-level investigations, etc. can be employed as appropriate to generate the required information package. During the course of the effort, raw data may need to be subjected to careful analysis as a means of transforming it into practical information that directly supports the project goal. One example of this is raw statistical data, which can be processed using various standard mathematical techniques (regression analysis, factorization, discriminant testing) to extract answers to key questions that may well influence the direction of project planning.
The artful processing of input data into information useful at the decision making level calls for considerable experience, both in the necessary technical aspects as well as in ministry perspective.
The above is presented primarily in the context of project planning. However, one of the most important areas demanding good supporting research is at the strategic decision making and planning level. It is at this level that the prioritizing of ministry effort and its supporting projects occurs. Some examples illustrating the need for reliable, comprehensive background information might include:
- Demographic statistics of target people groups
- Social/cultural profiles of groups targeted for radio, TV, internet, publishing, specialized training and similar ministries
- National/local business-related composites of opportunities, government jurisdictions, governmental regulation and procedures, sensitivities and taboos as needed in considering tent-making projects
- Internet ministry factors: governmental filtering and monitoring, user profiles, availability and user venues, secure communication options, and so on.
How can ProjectCare help?
While the above discussion focused on the research function, for which we are well-equipped by both professional and mission-related training and experience, other areas of service are also available to assist you. A partial list includes:
- Strategic Analysis and Planning Assistance
- Proposal Writing and Grant Solicitation (including research into potentially appropriate sponsoring agencies)
- Project Planning
- Support Logistics Assistance
- Project Monitoring and Assessment
- Business Planning