Gathering your own PRIMARY INFORMATION using Communities

One of the things that I've reminded myself about over the past year of studies is that a great deal of research already exists and is available to us.  Published articles, survey results, text books, video clips, audio recordings etc all provide assistance to us in our studies.  From these we get to benefit from a mass of research that allows us to develop our own skills and knowledge.  This research is known as secondary research

Alongside all of this, we all have access to our own communities to conduct research.  We're part of many communities.  Our community of work colleagues.  Our social communities.  Of course there are also our professional communities, such as this one. I should probably also add that whilst ever we're using any aspect of social media channels, be that TwitterLinked In, or any other, we can also consider those to be communities too.  We can consider this type of research to be Primary Research.

I've edited the title of this discussion based on our conversation below.  The following relates to gathering INFORMATION for rather than formal RESEARCH.  Hope you find this useful.

So how much do you use your own communities for research?  

This research becomes excellent learning for you personally as well as others, but also forms great content for your own assignments and articles.  Here's how you can use it:

  1. Choose a topic that you're writing an assignment for
  2. Pose a question in your community on the topic that you are wanting to gather information on (such as this example here)
  3. Send the link to your fellow group members and ask them (with a pretty please to reply to it)
  4. Send the link as well to any other contacts you have on the community
  5. If you have any followers on Twitter or Linked In that are also on the community, tweet or send them a link!

So it's great to use all the secondary research that's available to us in these text books, articles, reference material etc and we should continue to do so.  But gathering your OWN PRIMARY INFORMATION in your own communities is a great way of gathering information that is current, up to date, relevant and practical to today's organisational learning.

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Ady Howes - Community Manager, DPG

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  • You're welcome Alison. Loved that video too. I saw it used in one of our management development programmes the other day. It's a great way of reminding people about congruence.

    Pleased the tip worked too.
  • Ady, thanks for sharing the video on the importance of words. I loved it. It is so well presented. :)

    Thanks also for the tip, I shall have to try to remember it and practice it in future. I have lost my replies to numerous posts over the couple of months I have been posting here - it is so annoying when it happens!

  • Phew too!  I got really worried then until the penny dropped and it was the difference in terminology.  It's reminded me how important words really are (as shown in this video).

    Quick tip for you.  I found the same too when I'd written replies and posts and then lost all of those words by clicking on a link.  If you right click on a link you want to open (on a PC that is) then open a new tab, I've found this to be a great way of finding something you want to refer to without losing your work so far.

    How this works on a tablet I'm not sure yet.  I'm still learning the ropes on that one.  I'll ask our seven year old who can probably teach me!!  Bless the Z's!!

  • Phew, thanks Ady, that's put my mind at rest!
    Yes i agree with that terminology, no worries now :)
  • Hi Alison.  I see what you mean.  

    Perhaps the term "research" in this post should be replaced with "information".  Primary and Secondary sources of information were a particular topic on HRD Level 5 Using Information in HRD module.  The information in this pack does refer to Primary and Secondary sources of information rather than research, so perhaps it's the terminology I've used that doesn't sit right.

  • info on sample size extracted from "statistics for the terrified"

    use of a control group from Psychology

    Just a couple of links that provides a bit of info touching upon a couple of my concerns when drawing inferences from anecdotal reports. (lack of sample size to achieve significant results and lack of control groups)

    It is ok if you have created a survey with well formed questions specifically designed to draw out all the information you need to know.

    ( It is not easy to draft questions in an unbiassed way that will actually draw out the info you need,  and can be very time consuming!)

    Using observations from social media, there are just so many unknowns about the operating environment of the commentator. I am just not sure how good that info would be - although it would give you an idea of the number of people with an interest in or working in the field, or provide you a target audience for your survey or research. 

    I would classify it as anecdotal evidence, and maybe use it to decide whether I felt the area was worthy of research. I don't think I would call it primary research.

    (I am going to have to go and look up "primary research" now, to make sure my understanding of the term hasn't evolved with the introduction of social media!)



  • Great question.  One definition of research is "the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions."

    From this I conclude that literally any "investigation" (which could include social and community discussions, surveys, interviews) can legitimately be described as research.  For the purposes of carrying primary research on best practice for study assignments, I think these methods are fine particularly when the best practice being shared links into some tangible evidence of success.  For me, this type of research allows you to build on and challenge secondary evidence to ensure it actually still works in practice.  With some of this research dating back years, I think there is a lot of mileage in confirming that it is still current by having these discussions.

    I guess larger scale research that is designed to influence on a wider industry, nation-wide or global scale needs to be much more robust.  

    Joppe (The Research Process, Ryerson University, 2000) defines reliability as:

    "…The extent to which results are consistent over time and an accurate representation of the total population under study is referred to as reliability and if the results of a study can be reproduced under a similar methodology, then the research instrument is considered to be reliable."

    So my conclusion from this is that the primary research methods described above are fine for gathering evidence, opinions and views on current issues.  But perhaps there is a need to support that evidence with secondary research providing an overall robust combination.

  • At what point do the contents of anecdotal accounts provide sufficient evidence to be described as research? Are the unknown factors ( lack of appropriate controls) not going to be so great that the evidence is not sufficiently robust?

    Just wondering? ( i haven't clicked on your links yet Ady, as i have realised this is how i lose my replies! Sorry if your links answer my questions :) )
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