|From our Tech Guru: Digital Platforms and Reporting|
|Thursday, 18 August 2016 12:46|
Universities in the DRUSSA programme have actively been growing the presence of Research Uptake Communication material, in the form of stories about uptake of evidence-based development research happening at their Universities. An important element of that process is gauging the website-audience response to the digitally published content. DRUSSA.net site manager Caite McCann has some experience to share on digital platforms with a focus on useful insights for reporting.
The Communications and Engagement unit of the DRUSSA project has, using a common digital platform, DRUSSA.net, worked with the member universities’ Research Uptake Communication teams throughout the project duration. As a result the DRUSSA.net blog site is a record of the work of these teams. Over five years DRUSSA.net has published hundreds of blogs, eighteen e-Digests, and hundreds of documents in the document index. The DRUSSA.net platform was designed so that relevant data could be drawn. We’ve evaluated and reported on the usage data every quarter, which has given us some experience to share.
Digital platforms are great when you’re wanting to keep a geographically diverse audience up to date on activities and sharing experiences. Because they are not face to face though, it is not so easy to judge how effective they are – are people interested in what you are sending out? Do they find the stories that are shared on the blogsite useful?
These are issues all digital Research Uptake Communicators will face, and it’s good to be able to share some experience and basic insights that may be useful to you as you tackle digital reporting.
1. Terms you need to know – what are Descriptive and Inferential Statistics?
Descriptive Statistics are basic statistics that describe what your users are up to - how often individual users visit your site (frequency), how long they stay on your site (duration) and where they go on your site (what information is of use, usage).
This is your proof that the site is used, that your audience finds your site useful and gives you an indication of what information holds the most value for them. Of course what you actually have is a series of numbers showing frequency, duration and usage. You still have to quantify this data so that it makes sense to your reader.
Inferential Statistics: One way of doing this is to use inferential statistics. With inferential statistics you are trying to reach conclusions that extend beyond the immediate data alone, and you have some options here. If you have a site with different levels of users you can use them for comparison. Another level of comparison is between those who registered and unregistered visitors to your site. Over time you can look at comparisons of comparatively good use or inadequate use, compared to previous reporting periods.. How and what you compare is dependent on what your site is meant to do.
2. Tips for planning your reporting
3. Translating the data into a meaningful story
You need to figure out the story the data is telling, interpret what that says about your content and your website audience in relation to your goals. In telling the story you need to think about your report-reader audience, as you translate data into a written report. Like all statistical data – analyse and think it all through considering all angles and contextual circumstances, and that will give you a very interesting and nuanced story to share, and to draw from as you strategise for future development.
4. Sharing our learnings: A quick overview of what data we drew for reports on DRUSSA.net
Without direct feedback, as one would get at a conference or workshop, DRUSSA .net has relied on usage statistics as a proxy for feedback.
DRUSSA.net compares data on quarterly and annual cycles.
For descriptive statistical data we track
For inferential statistics:
Caite McCann is the Information Systems Manager for OSD and the DRUSSA Programme