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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


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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

Featured
Resource

Newborn babies | 2021

Newborn babies in urgent care proceedings in England and Wales

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Featured
Resource

Newborn babies | 2021

Recurrent care proceedings: five key areas for reflection from the research

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Resource

Supervision orders | 2021

Supervision orders in care proceedings: survey findings

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Resource

Newborn babies | 2021

Born into care: One thousand mothers in care proceedings in Wales, A focus on maternal mental health

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Resource

Private law | 2021

Uncovering private family law: Who’s coming to court in England?

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Resource

COVID-19 | 2020

Child protection conference practice during COVID-19: Reflections and experiences (rapid consultation September–October 2020)

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Resource

Child protection mediation | 2020

The impact of child protection mediation in public law proceedings on outcomes for children and families

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Project

COVID-19 | 2020 – 2021

Remote hearings in the family justice system

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Resource

COVID-19 | 2020

Remote hearings in the family justice system: reflections and experiences (September 2020)

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Resource

Private law | 2020

Uncovering private family law: Who’s coming to court in Wales?

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Resource

Contact | 2020

Contact between children in care or adopted and their families: six key messages from research

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Resource

Contact | 2020

Contact following placement in care, adoption, or special guardianship: implications for children and young people’s well-being

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View our work

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