Does your job involve getting information by talking to other people?

If so, I’ve got something for you.

Research is hard…

…and since most of us have never really been trained in how to do it, it’s not surprising that we don’t know how to get the most out of semi-structured interviews.

It’s no wonder that managing a focus group feels frustrating.

And you’re not alone if planning an effective field trip feels overwhelming – especially if you now have to do it online!

Confusion about how to do qualitative research, reluctance to get started, or frustration with the results it yields (or fails to yield!) is all totally understandable – and remarkably common. Most of us have never been taught how to turn piles of interview notes and observations into the kind of information we can make use of in development.

This can be really debilitating, because so much of development practice depends on our ability to use qualitative research methods well. Every aspect of programming – from initial design and sector selection, through market analysis and diagnosis, to partner selection and facilitation, monitoring progress and evaluating results – depends on our ability to use qualitative research methods. These skills are mission critical!

Personally, there is not much I like more than doing qualitative research – pulling out my research methods toolbox to start a new creative research design, getting out and hearing people’s stories and opinions, digging into complex data and pulling out strategic answers – I find it all fascinating (and fun, even, I’ll admit it!). But if you haven’t spent years of your life learning and practicing these skills, you probably don’t feel the same.

Thankfully, these are skills that can be learned, with practice and feedback. After seeing too many people frustrated by the gap between what they need in their day-to-day work and what they’ve been trained to do so far, we’re launching a new online course focused entirely on developing practical skills in interviewing, focus groups, field trips, and analysis of qualitative data.

You guys are smart.

Like most of us, you probably just need some tools to help you make better use of what you already know about research, some tailored feedback to make your practice count, and some guidance on how to get the most out of what you have time to do so that you feel confident about the results.

No matter how much of a beginner you are when you join, you will come out more confident, more skilled, and better able to use qualitative research methods to do your job.

We’re gathering a small group of development professionals for our first session of the qualitative research methods training course on 26th – 30th April.

Will you join us?

We can’t wait to get to know you inside the course. After the year we’ve had, don’t you think it’s time to ‘treat yo’ self’?

P.S. YES, there is a discount. Sign up before 12th March and you’ll get 10% off.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Avatar John Hoven says:

    Are you teaching qualitative causal inference? Especially process tracing (because of its relevance to Theory of Change and project design)?

    • Rachel Shah Rachel Shah says:

      Hi John, no we won’t cover that in this course. The only aspect of qualitative analysis we will cover is thematic coding – both inductive and deductive (and interpretation of the results). Whilst, as you say, its certainly relevant, we won’t have time to get into anything beyond that. It may be useful to add that while I think this course will be beneficial to people who have already have quite a lot of experience with using qualitative methods – because it forces a reengagement with good practice principles, and provides a chance to practice and get external feedback – it is a course focused on foundational skills: how to interview well, asking good questions and digging beyond surface responses, how to set up a good focus group, how to think about sampling with qualitative research, how to prepare for an observational field trip, how to using coding to make sense of your data etc. I hope that helps!

  • Avatar Julian Peach says:

    Excellent topic, and yes, one that is not often taught. Robert Chambers taught me and I am still learning.

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