Welcome to Bellbird.

Our blog contains a great many articles on user / usability testing, plain language, research with 'older' people and different research methods.


Get more out of focus groups with one-on-one interviews

One very simple way to get more out of focus groups is to conduct individual interviews with group participants afterwards. We do them by phone, but any other method would work just as well. We have been doing this for our victims of crime project.  The benefits are:

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Superannuation members are 'bamboozled by poor disclosure' Productivity Commission deputy chair Karen Chester says - ABC.net.au/news [1]

Be honest now. You may not ‘bamboozle’ but are you guilty of any of these communication transgressions?

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For our paper ‘Sense-making for Exploratory Qualitative Research’ for the 2018  AMSRS Conference, Suzanne and I interviewed some recent retirees about what it was like to retire. In these interviews, we tested out our new ideas about sense-making. 

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Is it a surprise women aren't keen on investing when the stock market language is so male oriented?

Jose Sanders, Radboud University and Henriëtte Prast, Tilburg University

The language used to describe investing in the stock market is skewed towards masculinity. It is full of metaphors that come from domains traditionally associated with, occupied by, or deemed appropriate for men.

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How we handle personal data

Jane Gregory is a member of the Susan Bell Research Team, and our Quality Manager. She is also the Professional Standards Officer for AMSRS. In this article, she explains how AMSRS helps members like us keep up to date with the way we handle personal data. Here are some of the things we do:

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 ‘Despite all the hype, machine learning is not a be-all and end-all solution. We still need social scientists if we are going to use machine learning to study social phenomena in a responsible and ethical manner.’


I came across this quote in an article in Communications of the ACM[1][2] by machine learning specialist Hanna Wallach. The article is called ‘Computational Social Science ≠Computer Science+ Social Data’.

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Qualitative Analysis Skills: A Primer Part 2

Remember the people

Qualitative research is all about understanding people.  That’s why clients want us to conduct it.  While it is easy to remember that at the ‘data collection’ stage, it can sometimes be forgotten that qualitative analysis should be about people too.

One of the challenges is that some of the methods researchers use for qualitative analysis seems to turn the fascinating insightful people who have participated in the research into a dry list of themes. Of course, identifying the themes that have emerged from the research is important, but the best research goes beyond just themes.

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 Safeguard Your Files Against Ransomware

At Susan Bell Research our clients increasingly ask how secure our systems are. Can we encrypt data? Yes we can. Do we have a risk management policy? Yes we do. We are lucky that we have our own IT Security specialist 'on staff'. Les Bell, Adjunct Lecturer in Cryptography and Information Security at Macquarie University and member of the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub, has written this piece about how to protect ourselves from what is probably the biggest cyber security threat faced by small and medium enterprises in Australia: ransomware.

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Going back to 1997 -  Behavioural Economics  and us

In 1997, I bought a book called 'Research on Judgement and Decision Making: currents, connections, and controversies' edited by Goldstein and Hogarth. It was here that I first came across Kahneman and Tversky and their work on such things as representativeness heuristic. I was hooked. I think my favourite piece was one on 'arguing with yourself', because it is something I do often!

I was working on insurance projects at the time, trying to figure out why some people saw risks, where everyone else saw opportunity. I used many of the insights I learned here with my clients, but did not make them public.

Twenty or more years later, I still find this whole field fascinating, but I am also frustrated.

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