A realistic timetable

In briefing a research agency it is essential to indicate the date by which answers are required. This has implications for the type of method that can be used and for the factors that the agency will need to take into account in planning its fieldwork programme. The first date to be included in the timetable will be an indication of by when the research proposal is required. This will be followed by the amount of time available for research from the date on which the research is commissioned. Research agency experience shows that clients are at least as likely as agencies to create delays in the research timetable, either by taking too long to decide to commission the survey or by taking too long to agree the questionnaire. Any such delays reduce the time available for carrying out the research. Giving an agency an impossible deadline by which to complete a research survey is bound to produce poor work. As in any other area, rushed work is likely to suffer from lack of attention to detail and general inaccuracy. The commissioning organization should be sure that it is able to meet any obligations required by the timetable; for example, if a product test is under consideration it must be able to produce the product for test in the quantities required and by the dates specified.

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