Methods

The research team at L&R Social Research has a well-filled methodological toolbox shaped by decades of experience and willingness to experiment. It contains both qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and evaluation. In research projects, qualitative and quantitative methods are often combined in the sense of mixed-methods and triangulation.

Qualitative Methods
Qualitative methods are used, above all, when complex constructions of meaning and of lifeworld need to be recorded and interpreted. The collection of data through various forms of interviews (problem-centred, guideline-based, narrative, biographical or expert interviews), group discussion, focus groups, workshops, (participatory) observations as well as image and artefact analyses has been done at L&R Social Research for more than 30 years. Our research design often includes participatory elements. The data is analysed - depending on the interest in the findings - using analytical methods ranging from fine-structure to thematic analysis. The analysis process is supported by state-of-the-art analysis software.

Quantitative Methods
Quantitative methods are used when a research interest is to be mapped and researched comprehensively. A standardised, carefully prepared and tested questionnaire is the most valuable survey instrument utilised. The data is collected either through online surveys or face-to-face and/or telephone interviews held by experienced interviewers. For CATI-supported telephone surveys, L&R Social Research utilises its own telephone laboratory operated by experienced, multilingual interview professionals. The data material is analysed statistically using methods containing various levels of complexity, varying from descriptive to multivariate statistics. Additionally, secondary data analyses as well as conditional prosperity score matching procedures are carried out to draw control groups by means of estimated funding probability.

Big Data Analyses
The term “big data” refers to data sets which are too vast, too complex, having too much velocity or being too poorly structured to enable analysis through common manual methods of data processing. Working with big data has been a recurrent task of L&R Social Research for over 20 years. Already at the end of the 90s, L&R Social Research had begun with the collection of experience in longitudinal analyses of so-called “daily schedule data” based on insurance data from the Main Association of Social Security Agencies (Hauptverband der Sozialversicherungsträger). By using specific software, constantly evolved indicators and procedures of asynchronous data analyses, it became possible to use data streams to answer various questions concerning, for example, risks of marginalisation of atypical employees, income disparities, re-entry careers from a long-term perspective, transition processes within the labour market system, analyses of discontinuity as well as topics of the evaluation research, such as complex control group designs and process designs with the focus being on the sustainability of the processes.
In the recent years this acquired know-how has also been used for other big data scenarios, such as the estimation of eviction risk through financial data, scenario analyses of the impacts of the unification of laws concerning continued remuneration or analyses of matching processes on the labour market.

Memberships
L&R Social Research is member of DeGEval – Evaluation Society (Gesellschaft für Evaluation e.V.) since 2018.