In addition to evidence you may have built based on experience and practice, you can use past research to find ideas that can improve your program, identify important outcomes to measure, and learn which tools and instruments have been used to measure change. This step is also important if you are thinking about adapting an existing program.
If you are not a researcher, tackling the research literature may seem overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions.
- Visit evidence-based registries, such as NREPP’s. Many provide resources that include overviews of current research. For instance, NREPP offers information and evidence summaries that summarize recent findings on programs of different types.
- Contact a local university to ask about researchers you could hire to conduct a quick literature search. Depending on how narrow the topic is, a researcher could complete a search with some summary findings in two to three days.
- If you have a university affiliation, you may be able to work with a research librarian to conduct a search on your own. Explain the reason why you want to conduct the search, and he or she will help you find outcome studies on related problems or by program type. The librarian will also be able to help you locate reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses.
- Conduct your own search. You can search for many things on the Web.
For new or emerging issues, there may be no established research to guide you, but there is likely existing research on related types of programs or problems. To find relevant information, think broadly and cast a wide net.
When Dr. Foa first sought out research to help her understand trauma, the most relevant literature she could find pertained to the treatment of rape victims.