Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Data Collection Plan

06/01/2002

Optimum results are more likely to be achieved when the data collection plan reflects both the theoretical underpinnings of the clients research goals and data needs and the best practices of the data collection contractor. Such a plan should be preapproved by the client and precisely match the resources available. This avoids any misunderstanding of what can reasonably be provided by the contractor within the time and budget allowed. Also, as the work proceeds it is important to be in close contact with the client, to share successes and obstacles encountered. Contingency planning within the constraints of the research goals must be addressed in a timely manner.

For example, the Seattle Study was tasked to begin on short notice, with no flexibility on the start date. It had to be started before the respondents SSI benefits ended, then completed as quickly as possible. A data collection plan was rapidly developed and approved by all parties, thus avoiding any ensuing disagreements regarding production results.

On the Woodlawn Studies, the client was very supportive and even helped with gaining access to some records for locating purposes. She met with the field staff whenever she was in Chicago if her schedule permitted. When production was low, she remained optimistic and reminded the staff how important their efforts were to her research. The sense of team camaraderie on these projects has been unrivaled on other studies and contributed to an outcome that was satisfactory to the client, even though more time than originally projected was needed to reach the final completion rates of 85 percent on the Woodlawn Study and 79 percent on the Woodlawn Mothers.

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