Designing and Managing Research Projects: A Practical Guide for Fieldworkers
Research is our primary means of systematically assessing and increasing the impacts and effectiveness of Action Against Hunger’s projects and programs. While research is an essential foundation for our reputation, credibility and technical positioning, we recognize that many of our team members are unfamiliar with the wide variety of research methods and considerations that may be employed to enhance evidence‐based programming. Therefore, these guidelines have been designed to be as practical as possible, with the aim of demystifying the research process by providing clear information on how to undertake a research project at Action Against Hunger.
Action Against Hunger’s research projects are structured and managed around a research project cycle comprised of four distinct phases – 1) conceptualization, 2) design, 3) implementation, and, 4) learning.
Phase 1. Conceptualization
The concept phase (Section 1 of these guidelines) considers how researchers identify what to research, why it is important, and the potential relevance of the research to the broader evidence base.
Phase 2. Design
The design phase (Section 2) considers the structure of a research protocol or proposal, highlighting those components which deserve appropriate attention to ensure the project’s eventual success.
Phase 3. Implementation
The implementation phase (Section 3) considers practical challenges around hiring research staff, managing resources and partnerships, and other contractual concerns such as intellectual property, data ownership, and confidentiality.
Phase 4. Learning
Finally, the learning phase (Section 4) considers how to ensure that the evidence produced by the project is used to advance policy and practice.
Research at Action Against Hunger is a collaborative process and often involves partnership both internally (e.g. between headquarters and country program offices) and externally (e.g. universities, think tanks, or other scientific organizations). Given the many and diverse complexities involved with
partnership in practice, this guideline will also assist our staff members in identifying and maintaining of sustainable, collaborative and beneficial research partnerships (Annex 1). Finally, research uptake is emphasized as an integrated component of each and every phase of the research project cycle.
Therefore, relevant uptake considerations and activities are discussed within each phase of the cycle, as are the strategic concerns of research uptake strategy (RUS) design (Annex 2).
Looking ahead, Action Against Hunger anticipates increasing the volume and scope of research that we undertake; therefore, the use of this guideline is intended to support further integration of research into our projects and programs, as well as to further the design and implementation of high quality, ethically sound, and impact‐driven interventions.