Strong portfolio of skills and achievements
The Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) has a strong portfolio of skills and expertise in research methods and applied social research. See below for more information.
Research Methods and Social Statistics Program
Our dedicated Research Methods and Social Statistics (ReMASS) program focuses on the development and application of advanced statistical procedures, particularly multilevel, longitudinal and spatially relevant techniques.
We have made methodological advances in the development of dual-frame sampling methods (for telephone surveys using both landline and mobile phones), text analytics applications, and customised tabulation tools. Our researchers frequently provide technical advice on statistical procedures such as weighting for small area estimation, cluster analysis and data harmonisation.
See the Institute's ReMASS Research Program
Basic to multivariate analysis
In addition to primary data collection, ISSR has extensive experience analysing already existing data. In this way, we can capitalise on existing data investments made by government and other stakeholders. Our analyses range from basic descriptive statistics aimed at a general audience to more rigorous multivariate analyses, such as:
- Secondary analysis of national longitudinal datasets to determine the impact of space, time, regional variables and personal characteristics on time spent in unemployment and transitions between jobs and employment status (2008-2011)
- An examination of the changing nature of marriage and family relationships in Australia and its broader social implications (including labour market participation) using data from existing surveys (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia [HILDA] and Negotiating the Life Course)
Validation and accuracy
We undertake benchmarking data collection and analysis to provide a valid framework for making comparisons over time and across populations. For example we:
- Systematically benchmarked the characteristics of the specialist homelessness workforce against those of other community services workforces for Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
- Carried out benchmarking analysis in our evaluation of the Australian Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme to establish an accurate picture of key aspects of work and family life before the introduction of the new scheme
Successful track record
We have specific expertise and experience in experimental research design for field (i.e. out of lab) experiments that are designed to rigorously test the effectiveness of policies and programs.
Social research experiments are developed to have strong internal validity to accurately identify cause and effect inferences. Recent experimental research includes:
- Project ABILITY, an experiment to evaluate whether partnerships between the Queensland Police Service and other State government agencies, high schools, and social service providers can reduce truanting and associated anti-social behaviours. See Ability project page
- The Queensland Community Engagement Trial (QCET), completed in 2010, was the world’s first research experiment aimed at exploring legitimacy in a routine police-citizen encounter. We designed a randomised field trial to assess how applying the principles of procedural justice (respect, neutrality and fairness) may impact citizens’ attitudes towards drink driving, satisfaction with police, and perceptions of compliance. See QCET project page
We are committed to undertaking research for the benefit of Australia’s Indigenous population and our experience includes:
- Case study research in Queensland and Western Australia to better understand the experiences of Indigenous people with regards to housing stress and overcrowding
- Secondary analysis of longitudinal datasets to identify the impact of parental separation on health and wellbeing for Indigenous children and their families
- Semi-structured interviews with Indigenous persons and social housing providers to inform service integration strategies to address issues of homelessness in Indigenous communities
ISSR also has strong connections with The University of Queensland’s Aboriginal Environments Research Centre (AERC), which provides research and teaching services in relation to the culture, environment and architecture of Australian Indigenous communities.
Insights to change over time
ISSR researchers have theoretical and applied expertise in longitudinal research design and the analysis of complex longitudinal social data. Longitudinal research can provide unique insights into individual and social change over time. Recent projects in this area include:
- A longitudinal process and outcome evaluation of multiple initiatives funded by FaHCSIA that aim to prevent sexual assault through education
- A longitudinal multilevel study to identify factors associated with changes in physical activity in mid-age, funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant
- Our longitudinal Australian Community Capacity Study, which collects data from 10,000 residents in Brisbane and Melbourne to measure the impact of place and time on community resilience, crime and social disorder.
ISSR is one of Australia’s leading organisations in the delivery of policy and program evaluations with a particular focus on health and human services. Our achievements include:
- Leading the $2.7 million national evaluation of the Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)
- Developing a framework for the evaluation of the national $5 billion Health and Hospitals Fund (HHF) for the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA)
- Evaluating an integrated system of services to address homelessness in Brisbane and Townsville for the Queensland Department of Communities
MFSAS training program
Our researchers also teach social statistics to industry and government. In this way, we support our clients not only to understand and interpret quantitative data, but to better use statistical methods in their own research.
In 2012, we developed the Methods for Social Analysis and Statistics (MFSAS) training program targeting government policy makers and are contracted to provide statistical training to a range of external clients.
See the MFSAS website for further details.