Early in its development, the OMI convened a group of experts on marriage and relationship skills education and family formation policy to serve on a research advisory group. The purpose of the group, which meets annually, is to provide research-based input into the development of the initiative. The group includes sociologists, psychologists, social workers, and others from outside Oklahoma, as well as representatives from the research division of Oklahomas Department of Human Services and Oklahoma State Universitys Bureau of Social Research (OSU-BSR), which often collects data for the OMI.
One of the earliest steps taken by the advisory group was to develop and field a statewide survey in 2001 of Oklahomans attitudes toward and experiences with marriage and divorce. Advisory group members contributed to the surveys development and analysis. The data helped the state understand the issues it is facing with respect to marriage and divorce (such as its low average age at first marriage), and guided it toward the development of certain service delivery features (such as marriage education for high school students). It also provided a baseline snapshot of marriage and divorce as the OMI began. With guidance from the research advisory group, the OMI has commissioned other data collection from time to time to help refine implementation and understand operational barriers, such as surveys of workshop leaders to learn about barriers to providing marriage education. Another example of the OMIs research efforts was a survey designed to obtain better information about the relationship issues faced by lower-income populations in Oklahoma. This survey was intended to inform the development of a program specifically for low-income expectant parents, Family Expectations.