5. Who needs to know what I found? - Ka whakamohio atu ngā hua ki a wai?

This section explores who needs to know the findings of your research. This is important because if your time is short and your budget limited you may have to prioritise which potential audience you are writing your report for, giving a presentation to, or more generally talking to about your research findings.  

Introduction

Often when we talk about who the audience is for our research findings we use the rather bland, general term of 'stakeholders', as in: "The stakeholders will want to know what we've found." These stakeholders are like the fish in the sea - we've only just discovered that 'fish' is a relatively meaningless term for the many and varied creatures in our oceans, many of whom are not even distantly related. Likewise, stakeholders are many and varied.

An easy distinction to make among different people we might call 'stakeholders' is about those who have influence and those who are impacted upon by our findings.

People impacted

The people who've been involved in your research and those who might be impacted by your findings are often the ones you will be most accountable to. These are people living in the communities you've done your research in, including Iwi (tribe), hapū (sub-tribe) and whānau members whose worldview you've inquired about and hoping to represent well in your findings and research reporting. Even if your research is into historical events or documentation (e.g., media reporting) there will be people who'll be interested in your research and what you've found. You may already have identified some of these people in your initial planning and consultation about your research (see Step 1). These are the people you can go back to and, from their advice and networks, you might also identify a wider group of people you'd like to know about your research findings. This list might also include the people you've interviewed or surveyed; so throughout your research ask people if they'd like to know about what you find and keep a list of contact details for these people (separate from any research findings such as interview transcripts).

This list of people can be the foundation for a communication plan for your research. This might simply be your list of people and notes about how they'd like to receive your research findings (e.g., short report, DVD), when you plan to do this, and what media (e.g., email, text) you'll use.

People of influence

Newspapers and magazines often run stories about people of influence in different industries, in fashion, or in politics. When we're thinking about people of influence in terms of our research project we're thinking of who might be able to use the research findings to make something (hopefully something positive) happen. These stakeholders are also known as end-users. For example, a research project on young Maori women being pregnant and becoming mothers finds these woman have trouble getting access to health care and staying in education. People of influence for these research findings are going to be those who make the policies and regulations that impact on young women's health care, education, and probably also their receipt of welfare benefits and housing. Some of these people may also have been involved in the initial, consultation stages of the research project (see Step 1).

We're fortunate because those who work in government agencies and even our elected Members of Parliament (MPs) are very accessible. Government agencies often have local offices and contact details listed on their website if you want to call and track down someone to talk to. Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development) is another source of information about what's going on in government. And then there's local government and it's various departments and committees you can make contact with, as well as national and local organisations that might find your research findings informative for the services and programmes they provide.

Once you've identified who might have some influence in the same area you're doing your research in you can let them know what it is you're doing and give them a brief overview of what you've found. For example, a letter or short panui (notice) about your research can be mailed or emailed to them, along with an offer to meet with them to talk more about your research if they're interested, or perhaps an invitation for them to visit your website to find out more. You might also invite them to attend feedback or sense-making hui (meetings) if you're organising these. Remember that these people are often booked for appointments and meetings at least a two or three weeks in advance so give them plenty of notice if you're inviting them to attend a meeting or event.

Meeting with people of influence can also be a good opportunity to ask them about other research they'd like to see done in your area of interest, or other questions that your current research might be able to provide some insight into. For example, in our E Hine research young Māori women were followed and interviewed throughout their pregnancies and up until their babies were two years old (with hopes that we can walk alongside them until their children begin school or kura). While our main focus is on the health and wellbeing of these young women, their new babies and other children, and their wider whānau (families) we have also met with people working in other government agencies (Education, Social Development). Our conversations with these people have been about the questions we might be able to answer for them from the interviews we've already done, and what sort of questions we might helpfully ask in our interviews with these young women in the future that their Ministries would be interested in knowing the answers to.

Advisors and elders

Among those who have a stake in your research are those who've provided you with advice about your research project, including kaumātua (elders). Even though these people may know about some or all of your research don't leave them off the list of people who might like to hear more formally about your research findings. They may also have ideas about who else you can talk with, as well as feedback on what you're going to say. For more formal presentations of your findings it may also be appropriate for you to be accompanied and supported by elders and/or advisors.

Peers and colleagues

In-between people who have influence and people who are impacted by research findings, there is likely to a group of people you'd describe as your peers or colleagues. These are people who provide you with support and feedback on your ideas, your methods, your consultation processes, and your written work, among other things. Keep these people informed about the progress of your research as well as what you find and how you'll be communicating these findings. Your peers or colleagues will probably be able to provide you with lots of advice about who needs to know about your research, how you contact these people, and what format is best for letting them know about your research findings (e.g., meeting, written report).

Your other peers and colleagues are those who you'll meet if you decide to go and present your research findings at a research meeting or conference. There are local conferences where you can present and meet people working in similar areas to you; for example, the Health Research Council's Hui Whakapiripiri. Keep an eye out for these opportunities and remember that to be on the programme to present you may need to submit an abstract (or short version) of your research presentation a few months before the conference.

Next step

The next step is deciding how you will report on your research project in Step 6. How should I tell people what I found? - Me pēhea te whakamohio atu i ngā hua?

Questions about Step 5

  1. Have you got a plan about who needs to know about your research findings?
  2. Does your plan cover people who are closest to your research (e.g., whānau, organisations), those who might use your research findings to inform their own work, and those people who've supported you in your research?
  3. Have you asked others about who else might be interested in your research findings? In this way one contact might led you to two or three more contacts who will want to know what you've found.
  4. Have you thought 'outside-the-square' about who might like to know about your research? For examples, a class at your local high school that's studying a similar topic? a church youth group that wants to know about how to do research? your relations at a whānau reunion who'd like to know what you've been working on?

Writing your research report

All the people you meet and talk to about your research and what you've found will inform you about how to think about, and how to write about and present your research. You'll also gather ideas for follow-up research and questions that can be asked and answered should you carry on doing research in the same area. In your research report's discussion you'll have the opportunity to write a section called something like 'Future Research' where some of the ideas you think are particularly interesting can be signalled as places to take the research to next.

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From: Cram, F. (2013). He Rangahau Kaupapa Māori: A guide to undertaking a Kaupapa Māori research project. Auckland: Katoa Ltd. Available from www.katoa.net.nz.

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