Our latest research guidelines for development practitioners

Martin Walsh Methodology


High quality research is an integral part of evidence-informed advocacy and development programming. Here Martin Walsh, Global Research Adviser, introduces our latest research guidelines, two of them on new topics and one an update to an existing guideline.

Oxfam launched its series of online research guidelines for development practitioners in November 2012. Since then, they’ve become among the most popular items on Policy & Practice, with some of them being cited in academic literature and research reports. Today we’ve added two more guidelines to the set: Understanding survey sampling and Giving helpful feedback on research papers and reports. With the help of Oxfam’s partners, we’ve also updated our guideline on Reviewing the existing literature.

The research guidelines were originally written for Oxfam staff and our development partners. We’ve now begun to work with some of those partner organisations to improve and extend the guidelines. With the help of colleagues from INASP and Research4Life, we’ve updated our guideline on Reviewing the existing literature so that it reflects their excellent work in making
books, journals, and databases more widely accessible to researchers across the world. We’re looking forward to working more with INASP and Research4Life to provide further guidance on digital searching and access.

Last year we published an introductory guide to Planning survey research, written by our Global Impact Evaluation Adviser, Simone Lombardini, who has followed this up with a guideline on Understanding survey sampling. Sampling is essential to many kinds of quantitative research, including the household surveys that are a key component in many of the effectiveness reviews of Oxfam projects undertaken by Simone’s team. He has used his extensive experience to demystify sampling and introduce readers to the different kinds of samples and their various pros and cons. 

The guidelines are about a lot more than just research methods though, and cover different aspects of the research process, including the communication of research. Our new guideline on Giving helpful feedback on draft research papers and reports, written by Oxfam GB’s Senior Strategic Adviser Duncan Green, is a great example of this, and is full of tips on how to be as constructive as possible when commenting on drafts and working papers. As the author of From Poverty to Power and the upcoming How Change Happens, Duncan has a lot of experience in receiving comments, and this guideline was enriched by suggestions from his readers on the From Poverty to Power blog. 

We’ve got a number of other guidelines in the pipeline, so watch this space!

Here is the full list of published research guidelines, some of which are also available in French and Spanish:

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Browse the research guidelines

Read more about our work in research

Author: Martin Walsh
Archive blog. Originally posted on Oxfam Policy & Practice.