Here is a list of research method for applying Communication for Development


Surveys are a great tool to gather data from the target audience about their Knowledge, Attitude, and current (or intended) Practice (KAP) toward an issue or an activity to inform baseline data. Surveys can then be conducted again after the intervention to assess any potential shifts in levels of KAP. Surveys can be used to collect qualitative or quantitative data. Survey modes include: online, paper, phone surveys, mobile phone/SMS surveys. Surveys can be relatively inexpensive, especially online (e.g. Survey Monkey) or mobile surveys.

In-depth interviews:

Interviews are conducted one-on-one for the purpose of gaining in-depth, or detailed, information of the interviewee and how they think and feel about a certain topic.

Positive deviance approach:

Positive deviance is based on the observation that in every community there are certain individuals or groups whose uncommon behaviours and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers, while having the same resources and facing similar or worse challenges.3  In counter-trafficking, a positive deviance approach would look at those who had chosen not to undertake risky migration, or who had migrated successfully when their peers had not been successful, and seek to understand the determining factors.4  Positive deviants can be identified through interviews, focus group discussions, recommendations from stakeholders or community members.

Focus group discussion:

Focus group discussions are vital for acquiring feedback about activities, campaigns, etc. A focus group is a type of qualitative research in which groups of people who have a shared connection to the issue (such as employers of domestic workers or domestic workers for a project about domestic worker rights) discuss their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes.

Role Play:

This can be used to give people experience in practicing recommended behaviour and/or to strengthen the self-confidence of a group in practicing the new behaviour. Take note of all arguments for and against, and the actual language people use. Conducting a role play activity in a focus group discussion requires: 1) creating a role play scenario that reflects the situation that is being focused on; 2) a facilitator to model a role play scenario; 3) volunteers to play out the scenario; and 4) a group discussion about the scenario following the role play (Was it realistic? Is this how you would react in the situation?).

Expert or peer review:

Talk to experts about a particular issue, people who are practicing the recommended behaviour or people who are against the recommended behaviour and ask them their reasons for why it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This will yield information to be used in the content of all communications.


Ask people who have adopted the ‘positive behaviour’ why they decided to practice this new behaviour and what they would say to people just like themselves about it. Ask them if they would be willing to speak on radio or television about it, if these are relevant platforms for your project.

Most significant change technique:

This is a structured process for generating and selecting stories of change that identify what different individuals and groups see as the most important outcomes or impacts. Ask people in a community in which an intervention has been introduced: “What has changed in this community within the last XX months?” The purpose is to judge how people perceive the intervention in comparison to all the other events in their lives. If they don’t mention the intervention, you may prompt by asking, “How do you feel about _____?”.  See if they will remember when it was introduced.

Sticky dot voting:

This is a decision‐making tool to help group members give their immediate feedback on lists of ideas or various scenarios or outcomes that will help them to identify priorities. This technique gives equal voice to all participants and provides a visual representation of how the group feels about their options by giving everyone a certain number of votes equal to a number of stickers/post-it notes that they can place on the options they prefer.5 

Outcome mapping:

This method focuses on identifying the “boundary partners” – organizations or groups whose actions are beyond the control of the intervention, but are essential for the impact to be achieved – and then articulating what these partners need to do and how the intervention can seek to influence them.6  This is usually an internal process that can be strengthened by consultations or meetings with representatives of the target audience.