Glossary

Here are some definitions of the terms we use on The Hub in case you're not familiar with them

Abstract – A short summary of a piece of research which covers the most important points.

Administrative data – Data collected by government agencies or private organisations in the course of conducting their business or services. This data is used for operations such as delivering a service, or legal requirements to register events or as a record of transactions or events.

Bibliography – A list of all sources of information consulted for a study. This includes all work that is cited within the body of the publication, as well as work that was drawn on but not cited.

Commissioned – A piece of work that has been contracted to an external person or organisation to complete.

Completed – Shows that this project has been completed and that no more publications are expected.

Ethnography – Detailed observations and interviews to explore social interactions, behaviours and perceptions that occur within groups, organisations and communities. Ethnographic research provides rich, holistic insight into people’s worlds.

Evaluation – the systematic assessment of a project, programme or policy, its design, implementation and results.

Evaluation design – The technical part of an evaluation that sets out the evaluation questions, how the data will be collected and analysed, and on what basis judgements will be made.

Formative Evaluation - An evaluation that is primarily about learning. Most often carried out during the lifetime of a programme, with feedback to managers and stakeholders. Focuses largely on implementation procedures, their effectiveness and relevance.

Focus group – A group of people whose reactions and views are studied in open or guided discussion. Focus groups are similar to, but should not be confused with in-depth interviews. The moderator uses a discussion guide that has been prepared in advance of the focus group to guide the discussion.

Guide - information to help organisations build their research, evaluation and policy capacities.

Interviews – A one on one guided conversation between a researcher and participant. Interviews are often used as a technique to understand the experiences, ideas, feelings etc. on a topic, issue or phenomenon under study.

Kaupapa Māori – Is research in which the philosophy and practice of being Māori is the norm. This position accepts the validity of Māori concepts, values and practices and positions them as central to the whole research enterprise. Taken together Māori epistemology (Māori cultural theory), Māori ontology (Māori cultural practices) and Māori methodology (Māori methods) comprise the Māori worldview.

Key results – A short description of what a research study has discovered.

Literature review – summarises and examines existing research publications on a particular topic area. Literature reviews discuss the theorising, research designs, data collection methods, findings, strengths, limitations and contexts of the existing works under study.

Local government – Non-trading organisations that are created for and by local government.

Longitudinal study – A study that collects a range of data from the same population at different points in time.

Methodology – The way a piece of research has been carried out. It explains what the researchers did and how. Methodology also refers to a wider philosophy that deals with science issues in social sciences.

Monitoring – information or data sampling which is repeated in certain intervals of times for scientific or management purposes.

Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) – An organisation outside of government that usually addresses social or political issues.

Not for Profit – A type of organisation that does not earn profits for its members or owners.

Ongoing – A project that is still in progress and more publications are expected.

Peer reviewed – Evidence which has been read and commented on by external experts in the field before being published. Peer reviewing ensures that work is of a high standard

Primary data - Data which is directly collected in the field, for example by carrying out a survey as part of an evaluation.

Publication – An individual document which may be available as a PDF, Word document, Excel file, video or audio file.

Purpose – The questions and aims of a research or evaluation project. The purpose tells the reader why the project was undertaken and what it aims to achieve.

Resource– A collection of work and its key information (e.g. summary, purpose, methodology and key results).

Review - An assessment of an intervention, periodically or on an ad-hoc basis. Frequently “evaluation” is used for a more comprehensive and/or more in-depth assessment than “review”. The terms “review” and “evaluation” are often used to mean the same thing.

Secondary data - Existing data, including previous research or evaluations and administrative data, and information from monitoring.

Social service – Government services provided for the benefit of the individual, family and community. These services are often evaluated by research institutes and government funded agencies.

Survey – A technique for gathering the opinions or experience of a group of people. They are often used to summarise results at a larger population level.

Qualitative research – Research which explores issues in depth. This generally focuses on the why and how of an issue. Common methods include in-depth interviews and focus groups.

Quantitative research – Research which explores issues in breadth. It generally focuses on the what, where and whom of an issue. Common methods include surveys and analysis of datasets.

Validity - The extent to which the data collection strategies and instruments measure what they claim to measure. Validity can also refer to the extent to which findings are backed by evidence.

This glossary draws on a number of sources, such as:

Evaluation terms for the social sector – The Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (Superu)

Glossary of key terms (social science) – Oxford University Press

Justice Connect

whatworks.org.nz

'Always Speaking': The Treaty of Waitangi and Social Policy (2011) Veronica MH Tawhai and Katarina Gray-Sharp (eds)