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Key stages in writing for Social Research

Key stages in writing for Social Research

The process of thinking about end of project publications should begin on the day you sign the contract letter. Outlined below are the five key stages on writing for social research:

Step 1: Starting-up

The contract letter issued at the start of each project outlines what final research outputs will be required. On accepting this contract you should begin to consider how the information you collect will be reported in the outputs and discuss this in your inception meeting with the SG project manager. Considering the final research outputs right from the start, and how material will be organised will make the writing of the end of project documents easier.

Step 2: Doing the research

Throughout the project you should have regular discussions with the SG project manager on the final outputs and how they will be structured. Remember to organise the information / data as it is collected so that it can be readily reported.

Step 3: Submitting draft reports

As the project nears an end you should provide a draft copy of the final report to the research manager by the date indicated in the contract letter. This draft should be fully proof-checked, and of a publishable standard. The research manager will circulate the draft to the main clients of the work, and the Advisory Group members for comments. You should be aware that a number of drafts of final outputs may be required before approval is given for publication. Peer reviews of the outputs may also be carried out.

Step 4: Finalising reports

The SG project manager will collect together comments on the first draft which they will forward to you. Drawing upon these you will be responsible for making these changes to the report. The final versions of these research outputs should be submitted fully proof checked and ready for publication. You will usually be given up to 1 month to complete these amendments.

Step 5: Approving

Once the project manager is satisfied with the quality of reports they will forward these on to the Chief Researcher or their nominee, who will decide if the report(s) is of a publishable quality. The approver will assess the reports against a number of quality standards, including how well the methods are reported, the meaning of the research expressed in policy relevant terms, and the style and length. When approval is given final preparations for the publication of the reports will be made, and the final payment instalment will be made. Following approval, the documents should be published by the Scottish Government within 6 -12 weeks. However there may be exceptions to this when for instance a publication is delayed due to linking it to a planned event (e.g. announcement of new policy, or major conference), or when it is agreed to 'bundle' linked research and other analytical outputs together.

Figure 1 - Key Stages

The next section highlights the house style of Social Research publications, with information on writing reports and the Research Findings document.