Friday, 10 May 2019

Managing research risk with HACCP

Part of undertaking research is to acknowledge our limiters (our potential biases) and our delimiters (our scoping to make our question answerable).

Whenever we identify a limiter or a delimiter, we then need to DO something about it. We need to manage the risk we have identified. Like risk management, we identify our problem, then either eliminate, substitute, minimise, or isolate the risk.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is one of the best known risk management processes on the planet. Designed to manage food safety risk, I think most of the steps are equally applicable to research risk management. 

Below are six of the seven the HACCP principles, as I have adapted them for research projects:
  1. Conduct a careful risk analysis. Read about potential biases. Understand how each could affect our research project.
  2. Determine the key biases. Discount the least likely biases. Decide which biases are most likely to be factors in our research project.
  3. Establish criteria to spot those biases as they occur.
  4. Create alternative actions to limit, eliminate, substitute or isolate those biases.
  5. Set verification actions to be sure that each bias is not present, such as cross-questioning, control groups, split data set and cross-tabbing.
  6. Write up all biases and corrective actions in our methodology.
A limiter is simply a risk. We just need to manage it like a risk.


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