Who gets heard in research methods?

Many studies use research methods that are not designed to enable everyone to participate. This means only some people get heard and for others, researchers aren’t hearing them. Whether it’s academic research or a workplace survey researchers could be missing out on valuable information. Cathy Basterfield makes this point in her short article on who gets heard in research methods .

Co-design processes are another form of research – action research. But will that process include people with intellectual, physical and sensory conditions? If there is a reading component, will everyone be able to read and interpret written information?

An international group of adults stand with a big board in front of them. It says, Make Things Happen. There are lots of coloured post it notes on the board. Who gets heard in research methods?

Basterfield lists some common problems with surveys: use of difficult vocabulary, imprecise response options, and ableist language or concepts.

People who need Easy English find it confusing to be asked to read a statement and rate their agreement on a scale. They prefer to be asked a direct question.

Picture of a hand holding a pen and filling in boxes on a survey form

Expecting every person to have the ability to access websites is another barrier. 25% of Australian adults are digitally excluded according to Basterfield. Some only have a phone and completing surveys requiring text is difficult at the best of times. Basterfield’s tips to help make sure everyone can understand your information:

  • add prefaces to increase precision or explain context
  • simplify sentence structure for questions
  • replace difficult words with straitforward terms
  • drop the jargon
A boy sits at a desk, pen in hand ready to write on the paper.

There is more information in Cathy Basterfield’s article Inclusive research and surveys.

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