The prospect of conducting research may be overwhelming and foreign to practitioners with limited experience in empirical science. But research can take many forms—from the highly rigorous, white-coated, laboratory testing of medications to the satisfaction surveys you may see after you book online travel. Research has many purposes, from developing lifesaving medical devices to selling products.
The kind of research we promote at BetaGov is practitioner-designed, practitioner-led. Our partners take the helm and we assist in developing the trial methodology. With BetaGov assistance, every practitioner can become a researcher—or, as we like to say, a pracademic.
What is the process for developing a trial? First, you have an idea. The idea can be identification of a problem such as “Why don’t our clients show up on time?” or “Is our application form hard to use?” Or the idea can be more complex, such as trying out a new program to improve client outcomes. Next, you share your idea with BetaGov and we start working on how to test it using a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The RCT is only one experimental design, but we like it the best—it is fairly simple to design, and the results are easy to interpret. We can say with confidence whether your trial intervention was effective or not.
What can you expect from us? BetaGov will provide our expertise for developing the trial—we will advise on trial specifics such as whether external oversight is needed; we will develop a trial description that outlines trial methodology; we can provide scripts, data spreadsheets, flyers, surveys, and other trial materials; and we are available to discuss trial development, implementation, analysis, and dissemination of your trial findings. What do we expect of our partners? In order to develop and conduct a trial with integrity, we expect that our partners will adhere to the trial design as documented in the trial description, that any changes or deviations will be discussed with us first, and to stay in close communication regarding the status of the trial so we can assist with any problems or concerns that arise.
A trial need not be difficult, and with BetaGov’s assistance innovation could be as simple as having an idea!