Analyzing and Synthesizing Your Research in HandrailLast Updated: July 25, 2019
Uncover Valuable Insights
Analysis and synthesis of your research data is critical if you want people to act upon your study and ultimately make an impact on the product, service or organization. It involves identifying and interpreting insights, patterns, and themes found inside your raw session data.
There are many methods and approaches to analyzing research data and there is no single or best way to do it. This section is meant to provide a basic approach that can be modified to fit your specific needs.
Your exact process will depend on:
- The purpose of the research
- The needs of those who will use the information
- When you need to deliver the results
Here are some basic steps you can use to analyze and synthesize the research data you've collected in Handrail:
- Step 1: Prepare Guiding Questions
- Step 2: Debrief and Process Data Immediately
- Step 3: Review and Reduce Data
- Step 4: Group Similar Items
- Step 5: Create Summary Report
Step 1: Prepare Guiding Questions
Whether you are doing analysis on your own or with a team, it's important to prepare a few guiding questions and keep them in mind as you progress through these basic steps. These guiding questions will help you focus your analysis and organize your data.
Here are some examples of questions you might ask yourself throughout the analysis process:
- What is the purpose of the research?
- What patterns or themes are emerging?
- Are there any clear deviations from these patterns?
- Do these deviations have explanations as to why they occurred?
- What have we learned from these patterns or deviations?
- Do any of the patterns or deviations suggest additional research?
- Do the patterns that emerge support findings during previous research efforts?
Step 2: Debrief & Process Data Immediately
As soon as data is received or collected, you should start processing the information while it's still fresh in everyone's mind. Immediately analyzing the information as it comes in will help you identify early patterns or themes, and help you focus future research sessions.
There are two main ways you can capture information when debriefing and doing preliminary data processing in Handrail:
Capture key findings, issues, opportunities, quotes, action items, or other insights in the Research Cards inside of the Results or Analysis tab within your study.
Any cards you create on the Results page are automatically exported to the Analysis tab allowing you to do more in-depth analysis like tagging, grouping, and filtering.
See example images:
Use the Summary tab inside the research study to accurately record the debrief notes, thoughts, reactions, highlights, or insights. Doing this will help you prepare for the summary report outlining your study findings, recommendations, and action items.
See example image:
Step 3: Review and Reduce Data
After all the study data has been gathered, your goal is to identify and capture all the relevant information. A lot of data may have been accumulated, but not all of it may help answer your guiding questions.
Here are some basic steps you can follow to help figure out what information to highlight and what data can currently be ignored:
Read and review the data presented in the Results tab several times to get a holistic sense of the data. This will help you and your team begin to narrow it into meaningful, usable, relevant, and significant information with the Research Cards.
Use the Research Cards to capture issues, opportunities, observations, behaviors, feelings, actions, comments, quotes, concerns, suggestions, strengths, weaknesses, similar experiences, program inputs, recommendations, outputs, outcome indicators, etc. Write additional notes in the description area to give the cards context and add preliminary classification codes with tags.
- Refer to your guiding questions and use them as your framework when capturing information in the Research Cards.
The research cards you create are automatically exported to the Analyze Tab allowing you to do more in-depth analysis like grouping and filtering.
Step 4: Group Similar Items
After you have reduced the raw data into Research Cards, you can navigate to the Analysis tab to start classifying and categorizing information into groups that share similar meanings or qualities.
Move, group, filter, and sort repeatedly to find and capture new patterns or themes with broader meaning allowing for deeper immersion.
Step 5: Create a Summary Report
Now that you and your team have analyzed and synthesized the research data, it’s time to create a Summary Report of your study findings, recommendations, and action items.
There are many ways to organize and format your Summary Report and creating it may be influenced by how the data will be used, the audience that is consuming it, and how quickly it needs to be delivered.
Here is a basic outline to consider when creating your Summary Report:
- Executive Summary
- Methodologies Used
- Study Participants
Need more information or have questions we didn't cover here? Get in touch!