Points to watch

In assessing the research proposal it is wisest to assume that anything not specified will not be provided or will have to be paid for in addition. For example, if no mention is made of a report or a verbal presentation, then assume that these will have to be paid for, if required. Check every point of assumption about what will be provided and ask the agency quite specifically whether or not it is included in the costing.

Beware of vagueness in a research proposal. If the proposal does not make it quite clear exactly what is going to be done, why it is going to be done, who is going to do it, and when they are going to do it by, then assume that the agency itself is not perfectly clear on these points, otherwise they would have communicated the information. Beware, too, of research mumbo-jumbo. The point of a research proposal is to explain to clients what they are getting for their money. Research jargon and techniques can be used to confuse and impress clients rather than to explain and reassure them of the agency's ability to answer their questions. Suspect that the agency will be no more concerned to make the findings clear than it is to make its proposals clear. So, if the proposals are not given straightforward explanations where necessary, another agency should be selected.

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