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Probation

Circular

QUALITY ASSURANCE FOR REFERENCE NO:


RESEARCH 59/2005

PURPOSE ISSUE DATE:


To advise probation areas of the creation of RDS NOMS. 8 August 2005
To advise probation areas of a newly introduced system of quality assurance
for research. IMPLEMENTATION DATE:
To audit existing research activity. Immediate
To audit existing resources available within areas for research, evaluation or
performance monitoring. EXPIRY DATE:
To advise areas of a briefing session on research standards. August 2010
To advise areas on a future training needs analysis for Research and
Information for Staff.
TO:
Chairs of Probation Boards
ACTION
Chief Officers of Probation
Chief Officers should ensure that relevant staff in Information and Research
units are made aware of this circular. Secretaries of Probation Boards
Following the RDS seminar and workshop session, all staff should complete Regional Managers
a proforma for any future piece of research that meets the criteria under the
quality assurance. CC:
Complete annex C and return to NPD by 16 September 2005. Heads information and research
To submit applications for staff to attend the research quality briefing seminar Units
described in this circular. Area leads on information and
Inform staff in Information and Research units that a training analysis form is research
to be circulated later in the year to identify training needs.
AUTHORISED BY:
SUMMARY Meg Blumsom
This circular describes the new quality assurance procedures for research
being introduced in the Home Office and how they will affect probation areas. ATTACHED:
Annex A RDS/NOMS details
RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS Annex B PQAB forms and advice
N/A
Annex C Audit of research
proforma
CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES Annex D Seminar Attendance
Chloe.Chitty@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk (0207 035 3421) proforma
RDS/NOMS
Quality Assurance of research process

Danny.Clark@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk (0207 207 0675)


NPD Research Audit

National Probation Directorate


Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW
Background

The creation of NOMS has led to the decision to improve the links between research and policy development by
embedding staff from the former RDS within the NOMS directorate. RDS NOMS is the part of the Research Development
and Statistics Directorate (RDS) in the Home Office which leads on research and analysis for the National Offender
Management Service (NOMS). It consists of two teams dealing with research and evaluation, and statistics and analysis
(see Annex A for a breakdown of the individual work of the teams). The team is led by Dr Chloë Chitty who is located
within the Directorate of Quality and Standards and reports to Peter Wrench. RDS NOMS goals are to:

• Develop, maintain and report on a high-quality knowledge base to inform policy making and practice, to help the
National Offender Management Service and the Home Office in England and Wales to achieve their objectives.
• To provide the public and Parliament with information necessary for informed debate.

Quality of Research

As part of the drive to raise the quality of research throughout the Criminal Justice System, a framework (comprising an
approval process and set of standards) for evaluating research has been devised by RDS NOMS (see National Offender
Management Service ‘What Works’ Briefing 3/05: Understanding research methods and findings
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/noms/html). This applies to all delivery units including National Probation Service,
HMPS (Prison Service) and the Youth Justice Boards.

From September 16th areas are asked to note that any research or evaluation that they wish to embark upon should be
considered using this framework, and a proposal put to RDS using the documents attached at Annex B. As specified in
the attached paper, ‘Stimulating Good Quality Local Analysis’, all Band 4 projects should be cleared through the new
RDS NOMS process. Where a project is Band 3 and does not meet the criteria specified below, it should not be submitted
for approval. If a Band 3 project does meet one of the criteria outlined below, it should be submitted for approval.

With the new framework areas will be required to have a quality review on any piece of work which is either
• over 30 days staff time (1) or
• over £10K in external costs or
• outcome research (2) or
• for publication or submission to the Minister

Notes
(1) an equivalent measure is 200 hours time; this may be more appropriate to smaller areas
(2) Outcome research is defined as work which is designed to establish whether there is an impact on reoffending,
reconviction or any related outcome measure (e.g. maintaining employment, drug testing) . It does not include
qualitative research e.g. offender feedback, staff review

Areas need not advise RDS NOMS of other work but should report to NPD annually as part of the annual report on any
studies that they have conducted locally. Where staff wish to publish work which was not formally agreed at the time of
commissioning they should either publish in a journal or publication where there is a process of peer review in place, or
should seek advice from RDS.

Research that is already commissioned is not covered by this requirement, although areas may wish to seek advice from
RDS NOMS over any piece of work currently underway in order to be able to obtain the “kite mark” if appropriate.

RDS NOMS will provide advice on research design questions from areas.

Action: Areas are asked to note the pro-forma (at appendix B) and fill them in for any newly commissioned work which
meets the criteria (i.e. is an outcome study, or will take more than 30 days staff time, or will cost more than £10K or will be
published or submitted to Ministers).

PC59/2005 – Quality Assurance for Research 2


Audit of Existing Research and Research Capability

Under the new guidelines for NOMS, Probation areas are asked to identify what research or evaluation is currently
underway (see Annex C). This information will also be helpful in developing the framework for the staff seminar.

This annex also asks areas to identify the resource that is available to them for

1. Routine data analysis


2. Performance Monitoring work
3. Small scale local evaluations (e.g. less than 30 days staff time)
4. Other research work

Action: Annex C should be filled in and returned to the Nina Marvan OBP Team, Interventions Unit NPD by
16th September 2005

Briefing Session on Research Quality

As part of helping to introduce the new pro-forma and arrangements RDS NOMS will be running a seminar for all staff to
attend, where possible. This will take place in the last two weeks of September; full details on the seminar will be
circulated in due course. It is expected that the seminar will cover different types of research, research standards and
briefing on how to complete the attached PQAB documents, using both presentations and workshops to help familiarise
staff with the process.

Action: Areas are asked to nominate staff using form in Annex D.

Training Analysis

RDS organise training for research staff within their team. They are able to offer a limited amount of training to areas to
help support the personal development of research and information staff. A training needs analysis will be circulated to
areas later in the year, to help identify the sorts of opportunities that would be useful. RDS staff would also hope to learn
from areas, e.g. to understand the skills needed for routine data collection and analysis.

PC59/2005 – Quality Assurance for Research 3


Annex A

DIRECTORY OF BUSINESS - RDS NOMS

Chloë Chitty Tel: 020 7035 3421


Assistant Director

1. NOMS Research and Evaluation

General email address: RDSNOMSR&E@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Gemma Harper
Programme Director

Courts and Sentencing Research


Functions
1. Courts research
2. Information to sentencers
3. Intermittent custody
4. Criminal law
5. Satellite tracking
6. Electronic monitoring
7. Fines and day fines

Robert Street (1-7)


Jessica Harris (2-7)
Mark Abram (1,5)

Offender Management Research


Functions
1. Offender management
2. Regionalisation and contestability
3. Implementation of interventions
4. Enforcement, compliance and completion of interventions
5. Bail and remand
6. Female offenders
7. Ethnic minority offenders

Samantha Jones (1-7)


SRO (1,3-5)
SRO (2,3,7)
Lan-Ho Man (1,4)

Public Engagement Research


Functions
1. Randomised Control Trial (RCT) programme
2. Restorative justice
3. Reparation by offenders
4. Public understanding, engagement and confidence
5. NOMS contact with victims
6. Diversion from NOMS

Robin Elliott-Marshall (1-6)


Catherine Nicol (1, 3-6)
Rosalyn Xavier (2-6)
Annex A

Community Supervision Research


Functions
1. Approved premises
2. Accommodation
3. Education, training and employment
4. Substance misusing offenders in the community
5. High risk of harm offenders in the community
6. Spending Review 2006 (NOMS)

Rae Sibbitt (2,4,6)


SRO
Julie Wilkinson (1-3,5)

Rehabilitative Interventions Research


Functions
1. Offending behaviour programmes
2. Juvenile offenders
3. Persistent offenders
4. Polygraph testing

Mia Debidin (1-4)


Rachel Walmsley (1,3)
Charlotte Allen (2,4)
RO

Prisons, Drugs and Resettlement Research


Functions
1. Resettlement of prisoners
2. Family ties
3. Substance misuse in prisons
4. Sex offenders in prisons
5. Custodial behaviour/decency in prisons
6. Parole/lifers research

Malcolm Ramsay (1-6)


Chris May (1,3)
Stephen Niven (1,2)
Duncan Stewart (1,2,5)

2. NOMS Statistics and Analysis

General email address: RDSNOMSS&A@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Pat Dowdeswell
Programme Director

Sentencing Statistics and NOMS Projections


Functions:
1. Projections of the prison population and probation caseloads
2. Ad-hoc NOMS Analytical Modelling
3. Sentencing Statistics
4. Penalty Notices for Disorder statistics
5. Answering requests for information on sentencing, prison,
probation, re-convictions and penalty notices for disorder
Annex A

Dr Nisha de Silva (1-5)


Dr Paul Cowell (1-4)
Dr Terence Yiu Wa Chow (1-3)
Paul Worthington (2-4)
Graham Wilkins (3-4)
EO (3-4)
Karl Chads (5)
Hehtal Patel (2,3)

Offender Management Analysis


Functions:
1. Prison population statistics
2. Data quality for prison population statistics
3. Probation statistics
4. HDC and Parole statistics
5. Breach and Recall statistics

Rachel Councell (1-5)


Veronica Hollis (1,2)
HEO (4)
Gary Renshaw (1,3)
Adeel Hassan (4,5)
Julia Reay (1,2)
David Clemas (3)
Mark Judd (1,3)
Michael Poole (1)
Ms Elizabeth Brocklehurst (1)

Reconviction Analysis
Functions:
1. Convictions database development and methodology
2. Reconviction rates: Adult offenders for PSA 5
3. Reconviction rates: Young offenders for PSA 5
4. Reconviction rates: other studies, special projects
5. Offenders Index Analysis
6. Police National Computer Analysis
7. Offender Group Reeconviction scale/predicted reconviction rates

Warren Evans (1-7)


SRO
Georgina Ford (1,4,5-6)
RO

Data Management Team


Functions
1. Creation, maintenance and data quality of databases concerning
statistics on sentencing, prison, probation, Offenders Index and penalty
notices for disorder
2. Co-ordination of requests for Offenders Index and PNC data
3. General IT support and advice

Jonathan Barbour (1-3)


Farid Guessous (1-3)
EO
Tasleem Adedamola Olowe (1-3)
Maya Devi Powar (1-3)
Annex A

3. NOMS OASys Data, Evaluation and Analysis Team (O-DEAT)

General email address: O-DEAT@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Natasha Garnham
Head of O-DEAT

Functions:
1. Offending history and offence analysis
2. Accommodation, ETE and financial management
3. Relationships and lifestyle
4. Alcohol and drug misuse
5. Emotional wellbeing, thinking and behaviour, and attitudes
6. Risk of harm analysis
7. Sentence plan and targeting
8. Self assessment
9. PSRs and sentencing
10. Offender management and CJA 2003
11. Mentally disorders offenders
12. Low risk offenders
13. High risk offenders
14. Persistent offenders
15. Young offenders
16. Reconviction analysis and interim change analysis

Michelle Burns (3, 6, 9-10)


Philip Howard (1, 12, 14, 16)
Robin Moore (4, 7-8, 15)
Emma Peart (5, 13)
Nicola Vallis (2, 11)
Annex B

Project Approval Record for Home Office Research1 Issue date: 20 July 2005

File reference Note 1

Project title Note 2


Project leader Note 3 Section Note 4
RDS Section Head Note 5 Section
lead Programme Director Note 6 Programme
Assistant Director Note 6 Group ERA or RDS-xxx Note 7
Group Main contact Note 8 Job title Note 8
lead Head of Unit Note 9 Unit Note 9
Director Note 10 Directorate
Aim of project
Notes 11-15
Expected output
Notes 16-21
What will be done with the output?
Note 22
By whom? Say who will take the action referred to in above.
Name Note 23-24 Job title Note 25
When is the output required
Notes 26-27
Other key information
Note 28
Agreement Signature (in the order shown) Name Date
Group GEB-designated
signatory

PQAB RDS Assistant


Director

OR
Director of RDS

Minister

OR
RDS Assistant Director
(see Introductory Notes)

Use no more than two sides. Print double-sided.

1
Please read the guidance notes before completing the form. Make sure you are using the current versions of the form and guidance. If in
doubt, check the RDS pages on Horizon or call the PQAB secretariat on 020 7035 3285.

Guidance on completing the Project Approval Record (PAR) Page 1 Issue date: 20 7 05
Annex B
Guidance on completing the Project Approval Record (PAR) Issue date: 20 July 2005

The PAR records the “triple key” agreement to conduct a Home Office social research project. The three
keys are held by (a) the Home Office Group Executive Board (GEB) lead for the area in which the project
falls, (b) Research, Development and Statistics Directorate (RDS) and (c) the appropriate Minister. PQAB
(Project Quality Approval Board) approval is the means to secure RDS agreement to the project design.
Please read this guidance before completing the form. Make sure you are using the current
versions of the forms and guidance. If in doubt, check the RDS pages on Horizon or call the PQAB
secretariat on 020 7035 3285.

Introduction
Do I need a PAR for my project?
A PAR should be completed for all social research projects (including impact evaluations) that are
conducted or funded (wholly or partly) by the Home Office.
A project may be exempted by the Director of RDS or by the RDS Assistant Director (AD) who is
responsible for the research area, if the work will be carried out entirely by Home Office staff and will
require a maximum of 10 staff days to complete. Alternatively, in such small projects, the AD may request
that a PAR be produced, to be signed off by him/herself and/or the policy lead (SCS level). Any exemption
is not automatic and must be allowed only after considering the project risks: a small project can entail
large risks, e.g. it might produce results that are counterintuitive, contentious or have major operational
resource implications but might nevertheless be liable to public disclosure.
In some cases, RDS staff will be advising another party on a project (e.g. a policy colleague letting a
research contract). In such cases, the other party would normally be responsible for producing the PAR,
consulting with the relevant RDS Programme Director (PD) and other RDS staff as appropriate. Where
responsibility for producing a PAR sits outside of RDS, RDS staff should not decline to provide advice on
a project solely because a PAR has not yet been approved, so long as there is a request in writing from
the relevant policy/operations lead. The extent of such advice should be determined by local RDS
management.
Who completes the form?
The form will generally be drafted by the project leader, liaising with line management and
policy/operations lead as appropriate. The correct completion of the PAR is the responsibility of the RDS
PD in whose programme the project falls. In submitting the PAR for signature, including Project Quality
Approval Board (PQAB) approval, the PD signifies that s/he:
• understands the policy/operational requirement for the project;
• is content with the proposed design of the project and its links to related past, current or planned work;
• has identified any diversity issues in the project design and made the policy/operations lead aware;
• can deliver the project to the required timescale and quality, with the available resources.

This will normally follow discussion with the staff who are directly involved with the project design, and the
policy/operations lead. The PAR would generally need to be accompanied by other documents, at the
various steps in the approval process, to inform signatories in more detail about the proposed project.
Because of differing requirements and expectations across the Home Office, and different roles and types
of research, there will inevitably be variation in the formal and informal elements in the process leading to
approval by policy/operations lead and Minister. Nevertheless, the discussion will need to cover at least
the feasibility and likely value of the research, a suggested design, how the results are to be used, a cost
estimate and an estimated timescale. Whatever the contributing processes, the PAR is used to record
approval, thus promoting consistency of approach and avoiding confusion as to what has been agreed.
GEB approval
The first “key” is agreement that the project is required for policy/operational purposes. For this, the PD
passes the PAR to the GEB-designated signatory (Grade 3 equivalent or above) for the relevant Group
(e.g. NOMS, IND) to agree. There should be one designated signatory for each Group – someone who

Guidance on completing the Project Approval Record (PAR) Page 2 Issue date: 20 7 05
Annex B
can assign priority to projects for the Group as a whole. In the temporary absence of the designated
signatory, a GEB-designated deputy may sign.
Signature indicates that:
• there is policy/operational need for the project;
• diversity issues relating to the project have been appropriately addressed;
• the project has the required output, in terms of the knowledge that it proposes to generate and the form
in which that knowledge will be made available;
• the project takes priority over other projects that might alternatively be funded (i.e. either it is in the
business plan and remains a priority, or it has been developed since the agreement of the business
plan and is now a priority).
RDS approval
The second “key” is agreement that the project has the required level of quality, i.e. it can be expected to
produce the knowledge required by the Group in a sufficiently precise, reliable and useful form. This
agreement requires signature by the RDS AD representing PQAB or the Director of RDS. Submission to
PQAB will require completion of an additional form to accompany the proposal itself.
Ministerial approval
The third “key” is the Minister’s approval, to confirm that the project is required and that there is an
appropriate route for using the outcome from the work. Where (a) the work is part of the RDS business
plan, previously agreed by the Minister and (b) the project is not one that the Minister has required to see
for individual approval, the RDS Director or AD may sign to indicate Minister’s approval. PDs need to be
aware of the requirements for their Minister.

Notes on completing the form


General points
Complete the shaded parts of the form. Where there is a note reference on the form, delete it and replace
it with your text (10 pt Arial). Some of the information requested will be the same on all the PARs that you
complete; save a template with this information (but keep track of any updates that RDS makes in the
form).
Paragraph spacing is automatic: you do not need to press “Return” twice.
Here, and elsewhere in the submission, please (on first use) spell out acronyms and abbreviations and
explain any terms or organisations that may not be familiar to readers.
Proposers should always remember that material in the PAR is likely to be subject to disclosure under the
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Project identifiers
1. This is the reference number of your file for the project. If a file number has been requested but not yet
provided, write “Number requested”.
2. Provide a short descriptive title that clearly identifies the project and distinguished it from other
projects. Avoid:
• starting with phrases that could apply to most projects, such as “Research to ……” or “A study of
…….”;
• using a title that implies a wider scope than the project actually has.

Responsible staff
3. This is the person who will take responsibility for the execution of the project. The project leader is not
necessarily in RDS but there should always be an RDS contact.
4. Within RDS, this would normally mean a team managed at Grade 7 level.

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 2 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
5. If the project leader is not within RDS and the main RDS contact is not a Section Head, give the name
of the main RDS contact in brackets, e.g. if Jane Black is the Section Head but John White (one of her
staff) is the main contact, write “Jane Black (John White)”.
6. These are RDS titles – staff may be known by different titles within embedded teams (e.g. in IND, G7
managers are called Assistant Director and the RDS Assistant Director is call Director).
7. Insert abbreviation of embedded RDS team at xxx, e.g. NOMS, CRCSG.
8. The main contact is the person who takes the lead in contacts with RDS on this project. The main
contact can be any grade but needs to have received authority to make most decisions for the
policy/operations lead in relation to the project. Normally there should be a single main contact; if there
are different contacts for distinct aspects of the project, record both contacts (and their Head of Unit
and Director) and state (in the “Other key information” box) what role each is playing. Where the
contact has a job title, use that title, not his/her grade.
9. Normally means the manager at SCS PB1 level (IND uses the titles “Director” and “Directorate”
respectively for the Head of Unit and the unit itself)
10. Normally means the manager at SCS PB2 level (generally called “Director” but IND uses the title
“Senior Director”).
Aim of project
11. State what the project is for: who needs it and why; what are its expected benefits?
12. This should be a short clear statement of the project aims, phrased as specific questions, outcomes or
descriptions of the intended product – not as research hypotheses or general objectives such as “to
inform policy on ……..” or “to enhance knowledge of …..”..
13. Refer to specific RDS objectives or Home Office Aims if relevant in a specific way to this project.
14. Do not describe the project method - that comes later (in the PQAB submission) or, if requested, in
supporting material.
15. The aim will generally relate to informing a specific area of policy or practice but it should be explained
if it is also (or instead) aimed at:
• developing an area of basic knowledge or theory;
• collecting a new body of information or data, for example through a new survey series;
• developing research methods or techniques;
• providing a product such as a website or new software.

Expected output
16. This is what the project is intended to produce: the new knowledge and the form in which it is to be
presented. Describe the output, not the method.
17. The submission must make it sufficiently clear to all parties what is expected from the research, and
what cannot be expected: both the research team and the policy/operations colleagues must be clear
about what the project will and will not deliver, what is achievable and what is not.
18. If there is pressure of time or finance on a project, it is generally better to limit the objectives and use
the best method to meet those objectives, rather than maintain unrealistic objectives by using a weak
method.
19. It is particularly important to note any intention to publish and the expected form of publication (e.g.
RDS Online Report, journal paper). If a report will be for internal use only, consider stating here that
the report will be produced to a technical and presentational quality that would be acceptable for
release under FOIA. Remember that, if the work is carried out under contract, the contractor will
normally be allowed to publish the work if the Home Office decides not to do so.
20. As far as possible, indicate what kind of conclusions the project is intended to lead to, based on the
research questions (e.g. evidence on which of three possible interventions is most effective).

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 3 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
21. Always note any limitations of the work and whether they have been accepted by whoever is
commissioning the work.
What will be done with the output?
22. Be as specific as possible, e.g. not just “To inform policy.” but “Policy lead will advise Minister on
whether to extend dissemination of information to potential asylum seekers in their home country”.
Remember that the person who receives the output may not be the person who originally
commissioned it.
By whom
23. Normally there should be a single name here. If there are different contacts for distinct aspects of
applying the project output, record both contacts and (in the “Other key information” box) state what
role each is playing.
24. The person responsible for applying the output will usually not be from RDS, the main exception being
if the project is developing methodology, to be applied in other projects.
25. The person who receives the output may not be the one who commissioned it – people move on.
Therefore, give as specific a job title as possible so that the right person can be identified if there are
changes in personnel between initiation and completion.
When is the output required?
26. Say when the output, or different parts of the output, will be required, so that the project can then be
planned in order to meet the target date. For this purpose, an “output” might be internal communication
of key findings, rather than a full report or publication.
27. Also state whether the value of the outcome is date-critical, e.g. if the information will no longer be
useful if delivered late.
Any other key information
28. For example, any particular expectations on the part of Ministers, involvement of OGDs, political
sensitivities, external obligations that the Home Office has in relation to the project (e.g. legal or
contractual requirements) or the existence of related projects.

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 4 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B

PQAB Submission Template Issue date: 20 July 2005

Please read the guidance notes before completing the form.

Make sure you are using the current versions of the form and guidance. If in doubt, check the RDS pages on
Horizon or call the PQAB secretariat on 020 7035 3285.

1. Project Approval Record (PAR)


The PAR must accompany this submission.

2. Project description
PQAB reference: Note 1
Project title (from PAR)

Approval by RDS Signature Name Date


Programme Director

Will the research be External only If all or part of the work is to be


conducted by Home external, put a cross here if the
Internal and external
Office staff or ITT is included with this
externally? Internal only submission ITT included

Background

Notes 2-6

Method
Design type
Literature review
Evaluation
Other quantitative research
Qualitative research
Other (state below)

Notes 7-15

Burden on data providers – put a cross in one box


No significant burden
Burden identified (as noted in box above) and accepted by provider
Burden identified (as noted in box above) and yet to be negotiated

Dissemination and impact

Notes 16-19

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 5 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
Ethical considerations
Will an ethics committee will be involved in approving the work (e.g. a contractor’s ethics committee)?
Yes No Don’t know yet
If yes, who will be responsible for applications to it?

Put one X on each row of the following table to indicate whether each of the potential ethical issues is (a) not an
issue for this project, (b) an issue that has been considered and dealt with or (c) not dealt with. If there are additional
ethical issues for this project, please add rows to the table to cover them
Not an Issue Issue not
issue dealt with dealt with
Assignment of potentially beneficial treatments is influenced by the research
Medical interventions
Honesty to researchers and subjects about the purpose, methods and uses
of the research
Informed consent
Participant confidentiality and anonymity
Data protection
The independence and impartiality of researchers in relation to the subject
of research
Risks to researchers and subjects (e.g. health and safety)
Working with vulnerable groups
If the responses on the checklist indicate that any ethical issues are not adequately covered in the proposal, state
how this will be resolved.

Note 20

Specify which professional code(s) of conduct (e.g. GSR, SRA, BPS) has been or will be referred to in addressing
ethical questions during the course of the research.

Diversity issues
Will the research address any of the following diversity issues in the sampling, data collection or analysis?
Yes No Yes No Yes No
Gender Religion Other (stated below)
Ethnicity Sexuality
Disability Specific age groups

If the answer is yes to any of these, answer the three following questions.
What procedures are in place to ensure that the research is undertaken in a way that is sensitive to the needs of
participants from different backgrounds/cultures?

Notes 21-23

To what extent is the research aiming to use a sampling procedure that would be expected to produce a sample that
is representative in terms of sex, age, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation?

If not fully representative, why is this?

Note 24

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 6 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
Project risks
Main risks
• Notes 25-26
Risk assessment/management
Hazard P I Mitigation Monitoring Contingency
Note 27 Note Note Note 30 Note 31 Note 32
28 29

Project plan
Date (MM/YY) Target
Project start
PQAB submission
Contract start (delete row if no contract)
Draft final report from contractor (delete row if no contract)
Note 33
Contract completion (delete row if no contract)
Publication draft to CDU or other publisher (delete row if no publication)
Project completion

Notes 34-36

Resource plan

2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 Other years Total


Home Office Staff days 0 0 0 0 0
project team Cost2 inc. overheads (£) 0 0 0 0 0
OGD staff Staff days 0 0 0 0 0
Cost inc. overheads (£) 0 0 0 0 0
Contractors Cost (£) 0 0 0 0 0
Others Cost (£) 0 0 0 0 0
Total3 Days 0 0 0 0 0
Cost (£) 0 0 0 0 0

Other information

Notes 37-41

Project Skills

Note 42

After completion up to this point, the RDS Programme Director should email this form to Mark Greenhorn
and Mike Taylor in CMU, RDS.
If urgent response is needed, explain and give deadline.

2
Including overheads and all non-contract costs.
3
Right click on total and update field.

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 7 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
3. Feedback record
Section 1: First decision
PQAB decision (cross as appropriate)

1a Approved without modification


1b Approved subject to minor changes
2 Modify and submit to board
3a Provisional acceptance, pending sight of ITT
3b Provisional acceptance, pending sight of preferred tender
4 Rejected

5 Decision taken after discussion with third party

Design rating (1-5)

PQAB PD (responsible for feedback)

PQAB AD

Principal areas of weakness / lack of detail


Aim definition
Account of background / related work
Practicability
Design
Sampling
Power calculation
Measurement
Availability of data
Consultation within RDS
Issues with third parties (e.g. courts, IS, police)
Analysis
Dissemination & impact
Project plan
Timescale
Risk assessment

Section 2: Feedback and response


PQAB comments/feedback4

Compulsory: numbered points that must be addressed in the proposal

1.

4
The PD and Project Leader do not have to accept PQAB comments without question but would need to argue the case for not taking on board
all the comments.

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 8 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
Further actions needed by the Project Leader: numbered actions (e.g. to discuss with a third party, provide further
documentation or further information about particular aspects of the project)
1.

Other points, e.g. stylistic, English, points to take into account as the project progresses5
1.

Response from Project Leader6

Compulsory points
1.

Further actions
1.

Other points (response not compulsory unless specifically requested by PQAB)


1.

If there is more than one round of comments and response, duplicate Section 2 as necessary.

Section 3. Final decision


Final PQAB decision (tick as appropriate)

1a Approved without modification


1b Approved subject to minor changes
3a Provisional acceptance, pending sight of ITT
3b Provisional acceptance, pending sight of preferred tender
4 Rejected

5 Decision taken after discussion with third party

Design rating (1-5)

Copies of the feedback record should be circulated at every stage to:


• The PQAB secretariat
• the relevant Project Leader
• the relevant Programme Director.

5
If appropriate, comments in this category may be provided as comments/tracked changes added electronically to the proposal document.
6
Also list any additional information or provide this in annexes.

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 9 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B

Guidance on completing the PQAB Submission Issue date: 20 July 2005

Please read this guidance before completing the form. Make sure you are using the current
versions of the forms and guidance. If in doubt, check the RDS pages on Horizon or call the PQAB
secretariat on 020 7035 3285.
Introduction managed by the Research, Development and
Statistics Directorate (RDS) and aims to:
Do I need PQAB approval for my project?
• ensure that any research undertaken has a
PQAB approval is required for all social research good likelihood of achieving its stated aims;
projects (including impact evaluations) that are • clarify to policy/operations colleagues what is
conducted or funded (wholly or partly) by the and is not achievable by a particular approach
Home Office unless one or more of the following to a project;
exemptions applies.
• thus, ensure that more robust and valid
• The project has already been exempted from
research is undertaken.
requiring a Project Approval Record (PAR).
• The project has been exempted by the Director
Although set in a context of formal approval, the
of RDS or by the RDS Assistant Director (AD) aim of PQAB is to improve research designs and
who is responsible for the research area, on the assist the Home Office in developing better
grounds that the work will be carried out entirely research capability.
by Home Office staff and will require a The relevant RDS Programme Director (PD) has
maximum of 20 staff days to complete. the dual role of obtaining signatures on the PAR
Alternatively, for such small projects, the AD and approving submissions to PQAB. The PD, in
may request that a PQAB submission be both cases, signals a belief that the project is
produced, to be signed off by him/herself. Any sufficiently well designed for its purpose, can be
such exemption is not automatic and must be expected to produce the required result and all
allowed only after considering the project risks: parties should sign up to it.
a small project can entail large risks, e.g. it
Where a proposal originates outside RDS, the
might produce results that are counterintuitive,
PD may forward it to PQAB with a note of any
contentious or have major operational resource
concerns, if these have not been adequately
implications but might nevertheless be liable to
addressed by the project leader in response to
public disclosure.
the PD’s comments on drafts.
• Where there is any doubt as to whether PQAB
approval is needed, the PAR should be signed Linking the PQAB submission to an
by the policy/operations lead and then either (a) invitation to tender (ITT)
signed off by the relevant AD to confirm that There is a certain amount of duplication between
PQAB approval is not needed or (b) sent to the the information required in the PQAB submission
PQAB secretary (via the AD) to assess whether and in ITTs. Ideally project leaders should have
PQAB approval is needed. to record this information only once. To this end,
As a minimum, PQAB approval is needed for all the following options are available to the project
social research and impact evaluation to which leader.
one or more of the following applies: (a) Complete the ITT (or at least the parts that
• national in scope; overlap with the PQAB submission and
• intended to be published; provide the ITT as Attachment(s) A1, A2 etc.
• results to be sent to Ministers; To the PQAB submission. In this case, the
PQAB submission need provide only a
• a study of outcomes of policy or operational
summary of what is in the ITT or only the
changes;
information that is not included in the ITT (but
• a project of a type specified by Home Office should refer to the specific parts of the ITT
GEB areas (e.g. in the case of NOMS, outcome where the required information is to be found).
studies). This would include, for example:
The role of PQAB • aspects of the work that is to be carried out
by Home Office staff;
PQAB reviews and approves Home Office social
research (including evaluation) projects. It is

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 10 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
• a project risk assessment (as distinct from a Both proposers and PQAB members should
contract risk assessment, which covers the always remember that material in PQAB
work to be contracted out); submissions and decisions is likely to be subject
• information that is for internal use only. to disclosure under the Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA).
(b) Complete the ITT and transfer the relevant
information to the PQAB submission. It is Project identifiers
advisable in this case also to provide the ITT 1. This is the reference provided by the PQAB
(as Attachment(s) A1, A2 etc) since PQAB may secretariat. Use this reference in any
wish to see it. correspondence on the project. If the
(c) Complete the PQAB submission and then correspondence is by email, put the
transfer the relevant information to the ITT. reference at the start of the subject line of the
Again, it is advisable also to provide the ITT (as email (this assists the secretariat in keeping
Attachment(s) A1, A2 etc) since PQAB may track of projects).
wish to see it. Background
It is not compulsory to provide the ITT with the 2. This section should explain the reasons for
submission but PQAB may, depending on how the research, for the benefit of readers who
much of the design is being left to contractors, are not familiar with the area.
request sight of the ITT before approving the
project. 3. Include the reason(s) for the Home Office’s
interest and a brief summary of what is
Related projects already known on the subject of the research,
If several similar or related projects are being leading to a description of the issue to be
proposed at the same time, they should ideally be addressed and an explanation as to why
combined or cross-referenced to avoid writing answers are needed to the specific research
(and PQAB reading) duplicate material. questions: what benefit will the research
bring, for whom or what, and why?
Notes on completing the form 4. Clearly formulate the problem (putting it in a
General points clear and appropriate context of policy,
practice, knowledge and theory) and the
Complete the shaded parts of the form. Where research questions that follow.
there is a note reference on the form, delete it and
replace it with your text (10 pt Arial). 5. A full bibliography is not needed. However, if
particular documents are essential to the
Paragraph spacing is automatic: you do not need justification of the project, they should be
to press “Return” twice. referenced in a footnote. If it is unlikely that
PQAB submissions must be written in plain PQAB will have access to them, copies
English: detail and specification may necessitate should be made available (labelled
the use of discipline-specific or technical Attachment B1, B2, B3 etc. and referenced in
terminology, but the content should be clear to a the text).
wide audience: PQAB members will not 6. Identify other parties (e.g. other parts of RDS,
necessarily be specialists in the area covered by the wider Home Office or OGDs) to which the
the proposal. proposed project is relevant.
Spelling, grammar and punctuation affect the Method
clarity, and therefore the quality of the submission
(refer to the RDS document Guidance for 7. This section should provide a clear, realistic,
Authors8). convincing and well thought out research
design that can be related to the project
On first use, spell out acronyms and abbreviations objectives, scale, timing and resources. It
and explain any terms or organisations that may should cover all relevant aspects in sufficient
not be familiar to readers. Alternatively, if there are detail for PQAB to make a judgement as to
many acronyms, abbreviations or unfamiliar whether the approach taken is the most
terms/organisations, these could be put into a relevant and appropriate, and adequately
glossary. worked out. This will include reference, as
appropriate to the particular project, to all
relevant aspects of method, e.g.:
8
http://horizon/rds/directorate/publications/guide_authors250804.doc

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 2 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
• the research questions; from external advisors or internal experts is
• the use of expert advisers or steering already available, and is likely to be helpful to
groups; PQAB, provide this as Attachments C1, C2
etc. and reference it in the text.
• the arrangements for any pilot study;
• what data, materials or information are to be 12. External advice can, of course, be sought for
collected; smaller projects but the cost needs to be kept
in reasonable proportion to the cost of the
• any existing data sources and how they are
research and the possible consequences of
to be accessed;
getting the research wrong.
• sampling protocols (sampling frame,
population definition, sample sizes, the 13. The method description should explain the
sample design etc.); role or relevance of contractors, external
stakeholders, other parts of RDS, the wider
• methods of recruiting subjects or survey
Home Office, OGDs or any other parties on
respondents;
whom the success of the research depends
• data collection instruments and procedures (including the implementation of the findings).
(e.g. questionnaires, interviews); The description should also state what
• internal and external validity; discussion has taken place with these parties
• plans for data analysis and interpretation. and, where required, what agreement (if any)
has been reached with these parties or what
8. Home Office researchers should not expect approach will be taken to reaching
less of themselves than they expect of agreement. For example, if existing data will
contractors, and hence the level of detail be used, is it certain that access will be given
required in PQAB submissions should be and is there written confirmation of this? If
similar. documentation is available on agreements
9. Indicate where alternative approaches, designs with other parties, and if it is important for
or methods have been considered and PQAB’s considerations, provide it as
rejected, to record this for future reference and Attachments D1, D2 etc. and reference it in
to avoid PQAB members raising questions that the text.
have already been answered. For example, if 14. Similarly, any likely impact on stakeholders
new data collection is proposed, have existing should be noted where it is relevant to the
data sources within Government or in public design of the study. For example, this would
archives been considered (taking account of apply where certain options for the research
data quality, validity, reliability, relevance and design have been rejected because of their
any restrictive conditions of using the data)? demands on front-line staff (e.g. in prisons or
10. If the project is a review, say how the review at ports). The project leader must consider
will be carried out. If it will not be a systematic the likely burden on data providers (within
review, explain why not and say whether it will and outside Government), and confirm in the
be carried out so as to form a basis for a future box provided that any issues have been
systematic review without repetition of work. resolved. This also needs to be noted in the
risk assessment where appropriate.
11. For larger projects in particular (nominally
those with a budget of over £250k including 15. Where the intention is for contractors to
internal costs), serious consideration should be recommend a method as part of a tender, or
given to seeking external guidance when as work under contract, this should be made
developing the project method and/or an ITT - clear. The PQAB submission (and the ITT, if
for example by convening a Research Advisory separate) should provide information on what
Group or by working with individual academics has currently been decided about the
or researchers in OGDs. This would be less method, what the methodological issues are,
important in PQAB’s considerations if the and the criteria by which tenders would be
project, although large, is simple in concept or judged in relation to their contribution to the
substantially a repeat of an earlier project. method.
Where the pool of potential contractors is Dissemination and impact
small, the means of obtaining external advice
needs to be selected with regard to the risk of 16. As far as possible at this stage, the intended
further limiting the pool of contractors or giving impact of the research should be thought
unfair advantage to some of them. If material about, particularly in the context of

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 3 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
dissemination strategy. This can provide 22. Similarly, PQAB is not responsible for
insight into the aims and direction of the overall assessing the impact of the proposed
project. It means identifying: research on different people and/or
• what impact is to be achieved (i.e. what organisations. Unless diversity is itself the
change, where and with whom); subject of the research, the assessment
should be the responsibility of those who
• what will be the contribution of the research
have commissioned the research. Therefore
to that impact;
the PAR states that the GEB-nominated
• the target audiences who need to be signatory indicates, by signing, that diversity
reached/influenced; issues have been appropriately considered.
• the best ways of achieving the required Similarly, the PD signals that s/he has
impact; identified any diversity issues in the project
• assessment criteria: how the success of the design and made the policy/operations lead
project will ultimately be assessed. aware.
17. The approaches considered need to go beyond 23. If the research is going to be contracted out,
publications to other means of dissemination then the Project Leader should highlight
(e.g. seminars, training courses, releasing potential or anticipated diversity issues in the
project data, developing a project website) and submission. Tenderers should then be asked
working with Home Office colleagues or other to address these issues.
stakeholders on impact through policy or 24. This question does not presume that such
operations. Therefore, PQAB submissions representativeness is always required. In
should note the expected outcomes, what some cases, for example, a representative
impact these are likely to have on policy, sample may not be relevant to the research,
practice and key interest groups, and how the e.g. in a study examining the views of
impact is to be achieved and/or mitigated. The offenders in only one ethnic group.
needs of stakeholders should be mentioned,
together with any potential for adverse impact Risk assessment
on stakeholders. 25. The risk assessment should show that the
18. Include any handling issues that can be Project Leader has understood all the
anticipated at this stage. significant project risks and has a plan for
managing them. In carrying out a risk
19. If the expectations for outputs have changed assessment, Project Leaders must be open
since the PAR was completed, provide an to the conclusion that the project should not
update here. go ahead. Therefore, the assessment should
Ethical considerations be commenced as early as possible in the
planning of the project.
20. Where the concerns relate to work that is to be
contracted out, the details of how they are to 26. Record as bullet points any significant
be addressed may be left to the contractor. external/internal issues that might affect the
However, in these circumstances, contractors project or constrain its scope. Confidentiality
should be subject to two requirements, i.e. that issues should be included where appropriate.
they: Use this list to compose the list of hazards in
• confirm in their tender or expression of
the following table. Issues to consider
interest that they have an ethics procedure, include:
by which their proposal would be vetted; • temporary or permanent loss of staff;

• provide a copy of the decision arising from • problems with access to respondents;
that procedure before commencing the part • unsatisfactory response rates;
of the work that was subject to concern. • non-availability of records, materials or

Diversity issues data;


• over-run on time or funds;
21. The legislation on diversity issues is complex
and frequently modified. Hence any potential • poor cooperation from third parties (e.g.

legal problems should be referred by the RDS contractors, data providers, OGDs,
PD for legal advice. PQAB may wish to note agencies, NGOs);
any concerns it has, but these remain the • changes of legislation, processes or
responsibility of the PD. administrative systems;

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 4 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex B
• media intervention. Resource plan
27. The hazard is what could go wrong and have 37. The resource plan must provide, as a
an adverse effect on the project. Add as many minimum, a breakdown, by financial year, of
lines to the table as are needed. Repeat the the staff days and cost for each party (the
table headings if the table runs over more than Home office project team, the wider Home
one page. Use footnotes if you need to include Office, OGDs, contractors, external
more text than comfortably fits in the table stakeholders, or any other parties on whom
columns. the success of the research depends). This is
28. Assess P - the probability that the hazard will in given in the table above. If any additional
fact arise in the course of this project: write H material is provided, include it as
for high, M for medium or L for low. Attachments F1, F2 etc. and reference it in
the text.
29. Assess I - how serious the impact would be if
the hazard did arise: write H for high, M for 38. The resource plan should follow directly from
medium or L for low. the project plan to identify all the tasks that
make up the project and assign internal and
30. State what will be done to reduce the likelihood external resources to those tasks in a
of the hazard arising and/or the seriousness of reasoned and consistent manner. PDs should
its impact. ensure that the resource plan has been
31. State how the project will be monitored for the arrived at by reasoned application of an
hazard arising so that the project leader will appropriate approach. ADs should satisfy
know as early as possible if something is going themselves that an appropriate approach is
wrong. being used (e.g. a spreadsheet with the
correct nominal charging rates for RDS staff,
32. State the effect on the project if, despite the with all parts of the work included, from
plans to mitigate the risk, the hazard does planning to dissemination).
arise, and whether there is any contingency,
i.e. further action that might then be taken (and 39. The resource plan must include staff and
by whom) or some residual value in the project. other resources for project design, letting and
managing contracts, and the implementation
Project plan of the findings including publishing reports
33. The table is a minimal format with the minimum and other dissemination/impact activities.
targets required: add rows as necessary. Every 40. The resource plan should state the assumed
project needs a clear project plan, showing start date of the project and of any
how the various parts of the project relate to contract(s).
each other and the timescale for each part.
41. The resource plan is not to be disclosed to
34. The format and complexity of the plan will tenderers
depend on the type and complexity of project
but a Gantt chart and/or flowchart is usually 42. Note any specific skills that are required to
necessary and should be added as Attachment execute the project. Training and
E and referenced in the text. development implications may also be
outlined.
35. All projects should be broken down into stages
relating to standard business years. Payments
on contracts will be linked to targets such as
interim outputs and will normally be made on a
quarterly basis: this should be shown in the
project plan.
36. Indicate what form of progress reporting will be
needed and its frequency. Ensure that the plan
gives you adequate opportunity to change the
direction of a project, or terminate a contract,
with clarity on payments due, at any stage.
Arrangements for updating all parties
connected with the project should also be
covered.

Guidance on completing the PQAB submission 5 Issue date: 20 7 05


Annex C
AUDIT OF EXISTING RESEARCH AND RESEARCH CAPABILITY

1. Area Name

2. Contact for queries Name


Telephone number
Email
3. Current work

4. Please list any current work under the relevant headings1:


Small scale studies (Band 3):
• Less than 30 days internal staff time
• Less than £10K external budget
• Not for publication by the Home Office
or associated agency or submission to
the Minister

Larger scale studies (Band 4):


• More than 30 days internal staff time
• More than £10K external costs
• Outcome studies (including interim
outcomes and reconviction studies)
• For publication through the Home Office
or associated agencies or submission to
the Minister2
5. Staff resource available for RO IO IT/ PO SPO ACO
research or evaluation3 Admin

6. Staff time, according to grade,


spent on each of the four Bands4
i. Routine data analysis (Band 1)5

ii. Performance Monitoring (Band 2)6

iii. Small scale studies (Band 3)

iv. Large scale studies (Band 4):

This form should be returned to Nina Marvan, Interventions Unit, Horseferry House, Tel 0207 217
0676 (email Nina.marvan@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) by 16th of September 2005.

1
See also attached PC.
2
Studies which may be used to inform policy on a national basis or which reports on outcomes (including
interim outcomes) of work with offenders.
3
Identify how many staff at each grade and the time allocated to undertaking research using FTE e.g. 0.2 FTE
for each identified staff member.
4
Identify using FTE. If more than one member of staff, please identify for each staff member.
5
Routinely collected data used for operational purposes and for reporting as part of the business plan to the
centre.
6
Data collection initiated locally and used to support local performance or to improve implementation. Data
used for contract management.
Annex D RDS/NOMs Research Seminar September 2005

As part of helping to introduce the new pro-forma and arrangements RDS NOMS will
be running a seminar for all staff to attend, where possible. This will take place in the
last two weeks of September, in London and will be a day event . Full details on the
seminar will be circulated in due course. It is expected that the seminar will cover
different types of research, research standards and briefing on how to complete the
attached PQAB documents, using both presentations and workshops to help
familiarise staff with the process. The seminar is directed at research and
information staff or staff who manage or commission research.

Please complete the form below indicating which members of staff wish to attend
the seminar . This form should be returned to Nina Marvan, Interventions Unit,
Horseferry House, Tel 0207 217 0676 (email Nina.marvan@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk)
by 1st of September 2005.

Probation Area

The following members of staff wish to attend the RDS Research Seminar
Name Position Contact details (tel , email ) Dietary or other
special
requirements

Related Interests