By Eleanor Hayden | August 8, 2019
Research Assistant, ETR
Have you ever wanted to increase stakeholder engagement in your research? Or introduce participatory data analysis to your work? If you have, a data party might be for you!
I recently attended a webinar on data parties presented by Kylie Hutchinson at Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation. I learned how to host a data party as well as the potential benefits they can provide to everyone involved, from researchers to evaluators to community stakeholders.
Here are some key take-homes.
A data party is a gathering that happens early in the research process, after completion of the preliminary analysis but before the final report has been written. It’s an opportunity to engage stakeholders, research subjects, those with lived experiences, and community members in the process of developing consensus on conclusions, which leads to better programming and policies, and increases buy-in and people’s ownership and understanding of the data.
Data parties are a way of bringing participatory data analysis into a project. They increase community and stakeholder engagement. Depending on the type of evaluation being done, they can sometimes also provide evaluators a better sense of how to proceed from the preliminary analysis to final report. Input from data party attendees can help bring stakeholder views of the data to light, confirm findings, and assist with interpretation of any unexpected or unexplained patterns. Taken together, this can all support the development of more useful recommendations and conclusions.
Another activity that helps attendees interact and think through the data is to give half the room “questions” or topics, and the other half the “answers” (i.e., the statistics or graphs), and then have everyone try to find their correct match.
Data parties can be a valuable part of the research process, particularly for youth-oriented research and other research that’s focused on populations whose needs can be overlooked. Data parties are a great way of engaging with the subjects of your research and making your findings accessible to them, and they provide a structured space for their input. By creating a venue for discussion and collaboration between researchers and research subjects, both sides can truly benefit from each other’s insights. I hope to see more people taking these kinds of steps to build better stakeholder engagement. I recommend Kylie Hutchinson’s webinar for anyone who is interested in learning more about this kind of participatory engagement in research.
Eleanor Hayden is a Research Assistant at ETR. Her academic interests include public health and medical sociology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.