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RESEARCH REQUEST GUIDELINES
USING PEER RESOURCES PUBLICATIONS

(Updated: January, 2012)

General Purpose
Because of the status, reputation, and extensive distribution of our publications to specific target audiences, we often receive requests from researchers, typically graduate students completing project, thesis, or dissertation research, to contact our members and subscribers to solicit their participation in a research activity.

We strongly support research in mentoring, peer assistance, and coaching, and we will do everything we can to assist experienced or budding researchers to achieve their research objectives. At the same time we are eager to ensure our members and subscribers are not being asked to spend their time completing surveys or forms which are not worthy of their consideration.

We have prepared this brief set of guidelines to assist researchers, experienced or novice, to adequately address particular issues that will help our Research Team decide whether to forward a request to our members and subscribers. The guidelines are based on our Research Review Committee's combined experience of being the Editor-in-Chief of one of the most influential research peer-reviewed publications in North America, Senior Editor of the only peer-refereed, advertising-free print publication in coaching, 37 years of engaging in and publishing research using a variety of methodologies in peer-reviewed journals, acting as a dissertation and thesis supervisor for hundreds of graduate students, and coaching dozens of other professionals in preparing requests to obtain funding for their research ideas.

The Literature Review
Our website is unique in the fields of coaching, mentoring, and peer assistance. We provide the largest online database of research in these fields and draw upon over 20,000 sources from around the world to keep our database up-to-date. Our sources include professional publications as well as newspapers, magazines, and e-based writings of experts in these areas. Typically, we annotate all articles and, where possible or appropriate, include link information to the original source of the author.

In essence, then, we are very familiar with the majority of literature that exists in these three fields. Typically, we turn down requests that do not reflect a reasonable familiarity with research relevant to the issues, hypotheses, or topic being studied by the researcher.

We will often ask the researcher to provide us with a copy of the literature review section of his or her research project. Often this section will neglect important studies that, if mentioned or understood, might negate or eliminate the need to conduct the current study. At the least, such missing studies, if acknowledged, might require a revision or modification of the approach to be taken by the researcher, including, for example, the value of duplication (or replication) of the same results under differing conditions or methodologies.

Most importantly, the literature review is not just a summary of what studies, opinions, or perspectives exist on a topic. The literature can serve at least three other key roles: (1) to lay the groundwork as to the necessity to conduct the study, including the theoretical foundations and existing literature; or (2) to demonstrate why conducting this study is important and worthwhile; and (3) to critique, not just summarize, existing literature. When a researcher comes to the point in their proposal that states what they want to do, the literature review section should have eliminated any doubt as to the value of proceeding.

In some cases the researcher's point may be that there is too little research on a particular topic or area. But rather than just saying there is "too little" or "not enough" research, the researcher must detail what that small amount does say and why further illumination will be worthwhile.

Finally the literature review ought to be convincing enough that to proceed along the lines that the researcher is proposing will be in the best interests of the field or discipline or without such a study, the field or discipline will be significantly diminished. This might seem like a grand or impossible task, but why engage in any research that involves others unless the researcher can make this claim?

In essence we want to know the answers to the following questions:

  • What will we know now (as a result of your study) that we didn't know before?
  • Why should we care?
  • Why should we consider what you are proposing to do (or have done) as credible?

Methods
Although we are interested in and familiar with various methodologies, we are not concerned that the research employ any particular quantitative or qualitative methodology. For all practical purposes, most of the researchers who contact us will be engaging in survey research that might include forms to be completed, interviews, or focus group activities.

We are, however, concerned about the quality of the questions or prompts used and the degree to which such prompts are likely to yield the data required as outlined in the literature review. Recently we were asked to approve a request that had a decent literature review, but the questions being posed to our members were almost totally unrelated to the literature review and some of the questions requested data that had no relationship to the literature review.

This situation is not unusual in many research activities, as researchers will often say, "Gee, as long as we're going to gather data about X, why don't we also include a question or two about Y." It seems efficient to the researcher, but is a violation of the integrity of the relationship between the researcher and the research participants. We examine each question as to its relevance and efficiency for gathering the anticipated data.

Although data sampling procedures are not normally of significant concern to us, a recent survey research study conducted under the auspices of a major coaching federation where the sampling procedures were not detailed has made us more cautious. The completion of the survey took considerable time and reflection. After we completed our responses to the study and received a copy of the survey results, we enquired as to how the participants in the data sample had been identified. When we learned about the assumptions made about the characteristics of the data sample, it was clear that the conclusions drawn by the researcher from the data collected were not justified based on sampling system used. However, the researcher and the organization that published the research failed to include or mention this detail.


Security and Safety
Any researchers requesting access to our members and subscribers must provide information about the ethical standards used by their home institution or organization to protect the participants in the research, supervise the conduct of the research, protect the privacy of the participants, ensure the confidentiality of the results (if appropriate), and ensure the general emotional and physical safety of the participants.

Most universities have a Research Ethics Review Committee that is required to examine and approve any study that will involve the use of human beings. In addition graduate students typically have a research supervisor who must approve such research proposals. Requests to Peer Resources must provide the details and contact information of these approval entities. Individuals conducting research who are not associated with such formal entities must indicate how they are attending to the same elements.

The only research requests we will accept are those that call for voluntary participation. Whether persons participating in the study must be identified or provide identifying information will be determined by the researcher and the rationale provided in the request for participation.

Under no circumstances will Peer Resources provide any contact information on members or subscribers in order for a researcher to contact any individuals. Typically a research request is included as part of the usual distribution of Peer Resources' publications.

Distribution or Dissemination of Results
Typically our members and subscribers are interested in the outcomes of the research project in which they have been asked to participate. Researchers must provide information about how they plan to manage the results and a timeline as well as intended publication or distribution of the results of a study.

Coaching on Research Projects
As experienced researchers we believe we have an obligation to assist novice researchers to improve the quality of their research proposals and projects. Therefore, we have provided the above comments as a way to provide some guidance. When our Research Request Review Committee rejects a proposal, we are not able to provide specific feedback on the project proposal unless the person requesting such feedback is a member of the Peer Resources Network.

Our Publications
The Mentor News (http://www.mentors.ca/thementornews.html), a free, text-based ezine, distributed every 45-60 days (back issues are archived in HTML).

The Peer News (http://www.peer.ca/thepeernews.html), a free, text-based ezine, distributed every 45-60 days (back issues are archived in HTML).

The Coaching News (http://www.peer.ca/thecoachingnews.html), a free, text-based ezine distributed every 45-60 days (back issues are archived in HTML).

The Peer Bulletin, (http://www.peer.ca/bulletinsample.html), our premier, subscriber-based magazine, distributed monthly to the members of the Peer Resources Network as part of their membership. Back issues are archived and only available to members).

Contact:
All requests to use our members and/or subscribers as volunteers to participate in research should be sent to:
Rey A. Carr, Ph.D., Senior Editor
Peer Resources
1052 Davie Street
Victoria, BC V8S 4E3
(250) 595-3503
rcarr@islandnet.com