The handbook is designed as a practical reference for researchers in the field, covering the how, what, and when of policy-oriented research. It is neither comprehensive in scope nor does it dwell on the theories underpinning its recommendations.
References with hyperlinks are included for detailed reading and follow up.
The handbook guides the reader through three steps:
- Research, needs analysis, and evaluation design;
- Implementation of research and evaluation methodologies; and
- Research and evaluation presentation.
Part 1 explains three different designs: research needs analysis, and evaluation design. The research design section discusses how to establish research objectives and a research proposal. These objectives are then tied to a suitable conceptual framework, and these concepts are then operationalized into observable or measurable variables. Here there is a discussion of internal validity, variable-based research designs, and their use cases. The needs analysis section includes its purpose and basic steps.
Finally, the evaluation design provides ideas on pre-assessment analyses, questions, and approaches for answering result-based as well as impact evaluations. A section on peace and conflict impact analysis is included as a special kind of evaluation tool. That is followed by an overview of general ethical considerations and research standards to be applied to the study.
Part 2 focuses on the implementation of research and evaluation methodologies. The focus is on three data collection methods: sampling, conducting surveys, and focus groups. Practical considerations including data collection and managing evaluations are also discussed.
Part 3 outlines research presentation concepts with a focus on policy-oriented report writing. This section identifies different types of policy briefs with their use-cases, a section-by-section guide on how to write a policy paper, guidelines on citations and referencing using the Chicago Manual of Style 17ᵗʰ edition Notes-Bibliography (NB) system, and innovative tools to support the research and report-writing process.
Beyond an initial reading of Part 1 on research design, this handbook is meant to be a reference and does not need to be read in chronological order. Rather, it should be consulted as and when needed throughout the course of a research project.