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The Quest for Solutions. Chapter 8. ‘If politics is the art of the possible, research is surely the art of the soluble.’ - Sir Peter Medawar. The Quest for Solutions. The quest for solutions involves determining what others want to accomplish

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‘If politics is the art of the possible, research is surely the art of the soluble.’

- Sir Peter Medawar

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


The quest for solutions1
The Quest for Solutions surely the art of the soluble.’

  • The quest for solutions involves

    • determining what others want to accomplish

    • finding out about the answers and solutions that might already be out there

    • assessing the practicality and feasibility of those solutions

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Methods for finding solutions
Methods for Finding Solutions surely the art of the soluble.’

  • Methodological options used in the quest for solutions are quite broad and will be driven by your own research agenda

  • Certain research approaches, however, have proven themselves to be particularly effective when searching for solutions

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Assessing needs and visioning futures
Assessing Needs and Visioning Futures surely the art of the soluble.’

  • Assessing needs and visioning futures highlights the importance of listening to stakeholders

  • Assessing needs values the voice of those who will be affected by solutions, while visioning futures allow you to share in your stakeholders’ pictures of the future

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Methods for visioning
Methods for ‘visioning’ surely the art of the soluble.’

  • Method appropriate for assessing needs and visioning futures include

    • surveys

    • focus groups

    • public forums

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Existing solutions
Existing Solutions surely the art of the soluble.’

  • Exploring potential programmes, interventions, and services allows you to avoid reinventing the wheel

  • Plenty of solutions have been tried with varying levels of success - some of which might even be right for your context

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Using traditional methods
Using Traditional Methods surely the art of the soluble.’

  • When exploring solutions you may draw on any number of ‘traditional’ data collection methods including

    • interviewing

    • surveying

    • observation

    • document analysis

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Using the internet
Using the Internet surely the art of the soluble.’

  • While not a traditional data collection strategy, using the internet can be an exceptional tool when looking for answers

  • Successfully navigating the net is reliant on

    • honing your search skills

    • wading through garbage

    • being able to critically assess the agenda and bias of what you find

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Examining feasibility
Examining Feasibility surely the art of the soluble.’

  • Examining the feasibility of change initiatives involves assessing an initiative’s

    • potential value

    • usefulness

    • suitability

    • feasibility

    • efficiency

    • efficacy

    • practicality

    • appropriateness

    • cost effectiveness

    • other relevant measures of success

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Option for assessing feasibility
Option for Assessing Feasibility surely the art of the soluble.’

  • The methodological approaches that can be used to assess feasibility are quite open, but do tend to sit under two general strategies

    • contextual investigation

    • running of a trial

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


Tools
Tools surely the art of the soluble.’

  • Tools for assessing feasibility include

    • criteria based assessment

    • cost-benefit analysis

    • force field analysis

    • SWOT analysis

O'Leary, Z. (2005) RESEARCHING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS: A Guide to Methods of Inquiry. London: Sage. Chapter 8.


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