Posts Tagged ‘Analysis Plans’
Often when I recommend that a research team prepare a formal analysis plan the first response I hear is, “Why? The analysis isn’t due for weeks and I have too many other things to do.” Alternatively, I hear statements like, “That is too much extra work, I know what to do, I’ve done a lot of analysis work.”
An analysis plan is not extra work; it’s work that makes all the other project tasks flow efficiently. It will help you produce on-time project deliverables. Typically, you develop an analysis plan in parallel with your research instrument (RI). Like the RI the analysis plan is tied back to the goals and objectives of the study.
In addition to the obvious purpose of an analysis plan, producing a plan serves to improve the RI and manage project scope, these benefits alone will pay you for the time you devote to creating it.
The RI is referenced in an Analysis Plan (AP) and while there are no hard or fast rules and no one right way to structure an AP we can offer some guidelines. The approach presented here is as good as any and better than most.
The analysis plan approach described is specific to quantitative studies. The first step of the process will be familiar to those of you who read some of my other blog posts and publications.
Research has the greatest chance of success when the objectives are clearly stated and that is where we begin. Use these five (5) straightforward steps.
State the key study objectives clearly at the beginning of the analysis plan (AP) and refer to them throughout the process.
Describe the major comparisons for the analysis (e.g., major cross tabulations for the study such as: Customers versus Non-customers, Companies by size, Customers that are Satisfied, Neutral, or Dissatisfied).
State how each question is used to answer a specific objective of the study either on its own or in combination with other data points. Think through how you expect to present the results from each question. What statistics, if any, will you use in the analysis? Identify the independent and dependent variables.
Write a clear justification for including the information from the question in the study and perform a section by section “So what” litmus test.
When the analysis plan is finished, go back and make sure each key study objective has been addressed.
These five steps are the basic approach to the AP template. While it is straightforward it is not a trivial task. The key is to focus on objectives and think critically about how to execute on the primary goal of the study.
For a more detailed description of how to develop an Analysis Plan see Analysis Plans Made Easier, which is on the www.AtHeath.com Resource tab (scroll about halfway down the page).
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