account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upawarded books calendar close-modal closedate delete document education emailevent facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay plusplyr-pause plyr-play post preview projectpublication reports resourcesearch-bigsearch series share star-full star-open startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

Research methods

This is an overview of the different methods we use in our research, and a description of what each method involves. Individual reports contain detailed information on the data and sources used for each study.

Methods used in Nuffield FJO research


  • Navy blue circle

    Evidence review
    Evidence reviews involve synthesising research on the same topic to identity common themes or findings. Evidence reviews provide an accessible overview of the key relevant evidence about a topic that can support policy makers’ and professionals’ decision making.

  • Navy blue circle

    Qualitative research
    Qualitative research involves collecting and analysing data that is not numerical. This includes from interviews, text, film, or making observations of people and events. Qualitative research can be used to gain detailed insights into people’s lives, what matters to them, and their experiences.

  • Navy blue circle

    Consultation
    Consultations seek the views of a range of relevant stakeholders about a specific issue, including professionals, parents, carers and children. Views can be sought via surveys, roundtables and/or other public forums.

  • Navy blue circle

    National administrative data
    Public bodies collect data about the services they provide and the people that interact with them, such as the courts, schools or the NHS. Although it is not collected primarily for research purposes, administrative data can be extremely useful for researchers as it is covers the whole population, is routinely collected and regularly updated. Before it can be accessed by researchers, administrative data is always anonymised, removing identifiable information such as names and addresses.

  • Navy blue circle

    Case file analysis
    Case file analysis involves the in-depth review a select number of case files relating to individuals’ interactions with the family courts or children’s services. This allows researchers to build a detailed understanding of how individuals interact with children’s services or the courts. Before case files are accessed by researchers they are usually anonymised to remove identifiable information.

  • Navy blue circle

    Case law review
    In most instances a case law review will critically evaluate or summarise recent judgements of relevance to a particular area of law. It provides a historical summary of why and how decision making in relation to children and their families has developed over time as a result of judgements and legislation. It may also describe how the legal context may differ in different countries or jurisdictions.

  • Navy blue circle

    External review
    External review involves research being evaluated by people with relevant expertise, but who were not directly involved in the research, ahead of publication. This might include other researchers or frontline practitioners. External review is an important part in the research process to ensure the quality, validity and relevance of research outputs.

Our commitment to evidence standards


The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory is firmly committed to promoting high quality data and research. Download our commitment to evidence standards.


Explore our research

Resource

Private law | 2022

Uncovering private family law: What can the data tell us about children’s participation?

View resource
Resource

Private law | 2022

Uncovering private family law: Anxiety and depression among children and young people

View resource
Resource

Inequalities | 2022

What do we know about ethnicity in the family justice system in England?

View resource
Resource

Young people | 2022

How can we better meet the needs of young people in care? Ideas from professionals, academics and people with lived experience. Films and briefing paper.

View resource
Resource

Young people | 2022

The care files: Exploring the experiences of teenagers entering the care system

View resource
Resource

Young people | 2022

Deprivation of liberty: A review of published judgments

View resource
Resource

Private law | 2022

Rates of private family law applications in England and Wales: what can mapping tell us about variation?

View resource
Resource

Newborn babies | 2022

Born into Care: Draft best practice guidelines when the state intervenes at birth (for feasibility testing)

View resource
Resource

Newborn babies | 2022

Summary: Born into Care: Developing best practice guidelines for when the state intervenes at birth

View resource
Resource

Newborn babies | 2022

Born into Care: Developing best practice guidelines for when the state intervenes at birth

View resource
Resource

Young people | 2022

What do we know about children and young people deprived of their liberty in England and Wales? An evidence review

View resource
Resource

Young people | 2022

Deprivation of liberty: Legal reflections and mechanisms. Briefing

View resource
View our work

Profile