'Good' research is research which produces findings that are directly useful to the manager and contribute to better decision making. The research answers the questions it was designed to answer and those questions were directly relevant to the problem. The research design was appropriate and it was well conducted, analysed and reported.

The art of buying good research is very much like buying anything else. The buyer who knows why research is needed, what is needed, what it will be used for, when it is needed by and what cost represents value for money is more likely to make a good buy. It also makes sense to shop around to find a good supplier, and having found one to check that they are doing a good job. After the event one can learn from experience and so get better still at buying good research in the future. This chapter suggests a systematic approach to buying research, which should increase the chances of making a good buy when commissioning an agency to carry out 'made-to-measure' research surveys. It also looks briefly at buying 'off-the-peg' syndicated services, and at judging how good, and therefore reliable, a piece of research is when one is presented with the report without having been involved in commissioning the survey.

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