The Request for Proposal (RFP)
The request for proposal (RFP) is part of a formal process of competitively tendering and hiring a research supplier. If the process is undertaken by a public sector organization or large corporation, the process can be extremely strict with set rules regarding communication between client and potential suppliers, the exact time when the proposal must be submitted, the number of copies to be provided, etc. Proposals that required thousands of hours of preparation have been refused for being one minute late (see this article)! The RFP usually sets out the objectives or client's information requirements and requests that the proposal submitted by the potential supplier include: 1.
A detailed research methodology with justification for the approach or approaches proposed; 2.
Phasing or realistic timelines for carrying out the research; 3.
A detailed quotation by phase or task as well as per diem rates and time spent for each researcher participating in the execution of the work; 4.
The qualifications of each participating researcher and a summary of other projects each person has been involved in to demonstrate past experience and expertise The client should provide the potential suppliers with the criteria for selection and the relative weight assigned to each one, to assist suppliers in understanding where trade-offs might need to be made between available budget and importance. These criteria also allow the supplier to ensure that all areas deemed important by the client have been addressed as part of the proposal. At times, clients ask a short-listed number of suppliers to present their proposed methodology during an interview, which allows for probing by the client but also discussion as to the advantages and disadvantages associated with the research design that is proposed. Observation
Observation is a primary method of collecting data by human, mechanical, electrical or electronic means. The researcher may or may not have direct contact or communication with the people whose behaviour is being recorded. Observation techniques can be part of qualitative research as well as quantitative research techniques. There are six different ways of classifying observation methods: 1.
participant and non-participant observation, depending on whether the researcher chooses to be part of the situation s/he is studying (e.g. studying social interaction of tour groups by being a tour participant would be participant observation) 2.
obtrusive and unobtrusive (or physical trace) observation, depending on whether the subjects being studied can detect the observation (e.g. hidden microphones or cameras observing behavior and doing garbage audits to determine consumption are examples of unobtrusive observation) 3.
observation in natural or contrived settings, whereby the behavior is observed (usually unobtrusively) when and where it is occurring, while in the contrived setting the situation is recreated to speed up the behaviour 4.
disguised and non-disguised observation, depending on whether the subjects being observed are aware that they are being studied or not. In disguised observation, the researcher may pretend to be someone else, e.g. "just" another tourist participating in the tour group, as opposed to the other tour group members being aware that s/he is a researcher. 5.
Structured and unstructured observation, which refers to guidelines or a checklist being used for the aspects of the behavior that are to be recorded; for instance, noting who starts the introductory conversation between two tour group members and what specific words are used by way of introduction. 6.
Direct and indirect observation, depending on whether the behavior is being observed as it occurs or after the fact, as in the case of TV viewing, for instance, where choice of program and channel flicking can all be recorded for later analysis. The data being collected can concern an event or other occurrence rather than people....
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