Building an evidence base

Being aware of the issues is imperative to the success of any campaign and decision makers are generally more receptive to campaigners that can evidence that they have a good understanding of the issues. 

  • Surveying students - There are many free tools available online (ie: Surveymonkey or Typeform) to gather data. It is important to make sure that the questions that you ask are not too leading or it may invalidate the data. Ensure that you comply with data protection laws and do not pass any sensitive data ie: email addresses onto a third party. 
  • Talk directly to students – Anecdotal feedback is useful but finding a way to document it can be beneficial to your campaign. Having stats such as ‘85% of Durham students surveyed said…’ can be powerful and make campaigns feel more relevant to students within your community.
  • Focus Groups – If you need some really comprehensive data, you may be better holding a focus group. These are often better attended if they are incentivised (whether that’s a cup of tea or a monetary benefit). Like surveys, the questions or statements should be relatively neutral to ensure that you are not too leading and participants will feel like they are able to contribute their ideas even if they contradict with other people in the focus group. It is good practice to make attendees sign a disclaimer saying that they are comfortable to have the session recorded with a dictaphone that way you won’t miss anything.
  • Other universities – Durham University has many notable alumni who will have written papers that can support your campaigns – many of these will be accessible online or through the library. If staff still work at Durham it may be worth contacting them directly to see if you can set up a meeting to better find the outcomes of their research.
  • Ask the Union – We’ve got plenty of resources that you can use. Our Research Analyst could have a look over any anything that you’re planning to survey students. Our Campaigns Coordinator or Marketing department can have a look over any campaign materials and help you with the planning process. If you also want any of the Union Officers to campaign on the issue, you can mandate them to by passing a motion at Assembly – our Policy Manager can give you some advice on this.
  • National Union of Students – The National Union of Students have research on a variety of areas affecting student life from liberation, access to education and sexual violence. You should be able to access resources here but if you are unable to access them, we’ll be able to download the document for you.