Getting Started


Getting Started is a helpful guide to conducting community research. The document aims to:

  • show your community group it is possible to do research yourself, even with limited time and resources
  • provide an overview of the research process, from asking the right questions to presenting your findings
  • help your group plan a well-designed piece of research
  • introduce basic research theory, methods and techniques.

How to use the pack

Introduction – this chapter gives you an overview of the document and an introduction to  ARVAC.

Section one – ‘Why do community research’ aims to demystify research. It shows how and why community groups can carry out their own research.

The second section – ‘Before you start’ introduces some key research concepts. You can supplement this with some of the further resources listed under ‘General Resources’ (above).

In the third section – we take you step by step through ‘Planning your research’. This includes how to design and plan your research so that it provides answers to the questions you are asking. It also suggests some of the broader management issues you need to consider when undertaking a research project.

The fourth section – gives more detailed advice on ‘Research methods’ such as questionnaires and focus groups.

The fifth section – covers the final stages of your research – analysing your findings and presenting them to your audience.

In the sixth section – we include some examples of ‘Research for specific purposes’, looking at needs assessments and evaluation in more detail.

Section seven has been removed and replaced with General Resources above.

Section eight – has two templates to help guide community groups through the process and both can be used as planning tools.

You may photocopy any part of the pack but please acknowledge ARVAC as the source.

This document is just an introduction to research; the best way to find out about research is to get out in the ground and start doing it. We welcome hearing about any research that you do.

The following is a quote from the research tutor at the Evelyn Oldfield Unit:

The ARVAC textbook on community research offers an accessible introduction to how community groups can use research in their work. It succeeds in capturing the key elements of social research without over complicating or over simplifying questions of research methodology, data analysis and ethics. I have found it to be an invaluable resource in my work with refugee and migrant community groups, who wish to use research to develop evidence-based planning, fundraising, influencing and campaigning.

Andreja Mesaric
Research for Action and Influence Tutor/ Development Worker

Resources original