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What is a research briefing?
and how to be easily the most knowledgable person in the room
In this briefing about research briefings I look at:
- What a research briefing is
- What a good research briefing should contain
- Who uses them
- How professionals use them
- How to know the quality of the research briefing and the study you are being briefed on
What is a research briefing?
A research briefing is a summary of a single piece of proper research or a series of research studies on a similar topic. A briefing is a concise and understandable consolidation of just the main points of longer, more complex, academic and often impenetrable research.
What makes a good research briefing?
A good research briefing will have a number of attributes
The point of a research briefing is that it should be useful to the reader in some way. A briefing and indeed the actual research is really only any use if it has some impact beyond ‘that’s interesting’. It needs to add something to the reader so the information / findings of the research need to be:
- Reader centric - the briefing needs to be on a topic of interest and use to the reader
- Useful - this is usually because the reader can use the information to actually do something as a result of reading the briefing
- Brief! People are busy so the briefing has to get the right information to the reader as quickly as possible
- Understandable - It needs to be based on the readers reading comprehension, experience, expertise and knowledge levels The point of a search briefing is to remove jargon and academic lagged and make it readily understandable
- Accurate - the briefing has to fairly represent the main findings of the research without bias or distortion
Additionally, a good briefing will review the research as objectively as possible to give an indication of any weaknesses in the research. Every study has weaknesses, there is no 100% watertight research. Having a fair appreciation of these weaknesses enables people to make better decisions about the study and the applicability and usability to the reader’s situation.
Not all studies have the same level of validity and reliability, indeed some are just rubbish and have little value. For example, a survey of the opinions of two people is very different to a study observing the behaviour of thousands. Understanding this is important.
Why do professionals use research briefings?
Ask yourself, in terms of the amount, how do you keep up to date with what’s happening in your professional area. How you gain new knowledge and insights and where do you get ideas from? It is probably a mix of the following:
- Work colleagues
- LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or other social media
- Professional forums and groups
- Magazines and newsletters
- Surveys and opinion polls
- Proper research papers or research briefings
- University or college or other courses
Now rank that mix, where do most of your updates, knowledge, insights and ideas come from week-to-week in order? Which is your most used source of practice evidence and inspiration?
And how much of that information and knowledge is based on verifiable evidence? (See here for an article about the difference between opinion- and evidence-based knowledge)
Properly designed, a good properly curated and accurate briefing based on proper research can get you the most up-to-date findings from the best research studies in a matter of minutes. Not only that a good research briefing service can make sure you only get the content you need.
This means that you stay up to date and impressively well-informed without becoming overwhelmed and in only a few minutes a week.
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Where does the data for a research briefing come from?
Good research briefings should come from good published research study.
So for a starter, research briefings should be using peer-reviewed sources (research that has been reviewed by other researchers and experts for accuracy, validity and reliability).
Anyone can publish a blog. Anyone can write a self-published book. Anyone can say they have done a survey. But how accurate or biased is it? How big is the sample in the study? Is it the opinions of just a few people or observations and proper statistical analysis of larger populations? Are the results generalisable (apply to most situations) or is it a case study that just applies to one situation or context?
A good research briefing will review and help you decide on the quality of the research, what its weakness are and not just report the findings.
What are research briefings based on?
That depends on who is doing the briefing. We can only talk about the OR Briefings...
All of our briefings come from properly published academic peer-reviewed sources. We not only get you to the findings fast, but we also review and fully reference the study, so you know where it has come from and how reliable it is. This is important information if you are going to have confidence in what you are investing your precious time on.
We also interview many of the researchers and send them out to members as podcasts.
How can I tell the quality of a research briefing?
We can’t talk for anyone else, but as mentioned above we review the research of every single study we provide briefings about. At the end of every briefing we let you know about the:
- Research Quality – we tell you what the strengths and weaknesses are of the study and give it a score out of 5 for fast reference
- Confidence – Given what other studies on this topic are saying and the weaknesses of the study, how confident are we that you can rely on the findings. Again we give it a score out of 5 and let you know why we have given it that score
- Usefulness – How useful and practical is this study, to whom and for what.
- Comments – We make general comments about the study or studies referenced in the briefing to help you decide how best to use it.
What subjects do you do research briefings on?
At the moment we do research briefings around anything broadly connected to organisations and people. We tend to focus on topics connected to (but we are not restricted to):
- Project Management and Agile Working
- Organisational Development and Design
- Organisational Change and Transformation
- Human Resources (HR), Human Capital (HC) and Human Resource Management (HRM)
- Learning, e-learning and Knowledge Management
- Coaching and mentoring
- Problem Solving and Decision-Making
- Work Psychology
Who uses research briefings?
The range of our members include:
- Operational managers
- HR Directors, managers and professionals
- Learning Directors, managers and professionals
- Organisational development, change and transformation professionals
- Professors, Academics and Lecturers / teachers
- Organisations like
- The United Nations
- The National Health Service (UK)
- UK Parliament
- The Scrum Alliance of America
- The Bank of England
- The Bank of Russia
- Consultancy teams and companies
and many others
How do people use research briefings?
People use our research briefings for a wide number of purposes including:
- For their own CPD
- Training and development of others
- With coaching clients
- Team development - many companies have a group membership so every member of the team get the briefings
- Team members pick a briefing a week to discuss either at team meeting or on slack or other Social media
- As the basis of blogs, newsletters and email marketing. The briefings are an excellent way to position yourself as right up-to-date, well-informed and importantly evidence-based
- To solve real life work problems and make their practice evidence-based
- To help with leadership and management issues
- To get work-based practices onto an evidence-based practice
- To create and support organisational change
- To integrate into and update consultancy practice
- Keep entire organisations up to date
- Use in knowledge management systems
- With members in membership sites
Types of research briefing
There are a number of different types of research briefing including:
- A document such written briefing, Powerpoint set etc. webpage or PDF
- An infographic
- An audio file / podcast
- A video research briefing as a presentation
- A live seminar, workshop either in person or as an online webinar and this can either be live or pre-recorded
What do I get if i join?
- Weekly research briefings sent direct to you every week
- A copy of the Oxford Review containing between twelve and sixteen additional research briefings every month
- Research Infographics
- Video research briefings.
- Special reports / short literature reviews on topics that appear to be getting a lot of research attention or if there has been a recent shift in the thinking or theory
- The ability to request a watch list for new research in keyword areas (as long as it is within the realms of:
- Human resources (not legal aspects)
- Organisational development
- Organisational change
- Organisational learning
- Learning and development
- Knowledge management
- Work Psychology
- Decision making and problem solving
- Request specific research / brief literature reviews
- Access to the entire archive of previous research briefings, copies of the Oxford Review, infographics, video research briefings and special reports.
- Access to Live Reports – continually updated as new research on the topic is released
- Members only podcasts – research briefings in audio
- Access to a member only forum and communities of practice
How do I join?
In order to keep the integrity of the members community and ensure that we are bringing in like-minded research/evidence-based or research/evidence-interested practitioners, and to keep out people who just want to sell into to our community or don't have an interest in our core areas we ask to speak to each new member before joining.
That way we can also let you know whet to expect, answer any questions and also 'break the ice' with us. Our members guide what research we search for and source. What we have found over the years is that people who speak to us in person are much more likely to interact and tell us what they are looking for.
99% of everything you are trying to do...
...has already been done by someone else, somewhere - and meticulously researched.
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