Methods in a Minute Video Series

Results from research and technical assistance has the potential to change lives, and the methods behind these projects is crucial to ensuring sound findings. Adhering to social science best practices and engaging in cutting-edge research methods gives us confidence that our work is as accurate and replicable as possible.

In our Methods in a Minute video series, we explore some of the key methods our researchers and technical assistance experts use, pulling back the curtain to help you understand why we do what we do. Each video is under two minutes, and you’ll learn what the method is designed to do, the types of questions it is best suited to answer, and how it works in practice.   

Mixed Methods

Qualitative and quantitative methods each bring their own strengths and weaknesses to a research topic. Using mixed methods—which combines them—gives researchers the advantages of both. In this video, learn how mixed methods helped answer questions about school attendance in rural Zambia.



What should researchers do when multiple studies on the same question offer different conclusions? This video explains how a statistical technique called meta-analysis can help them interpret those seemingly contradictory results.


Systematic Review

What can researchers do with multiple studies on the same topic—especially when some of them contradict each other? Systematic review is a research method that helps researchers make sense of a topic's full research landscape.



Research that impacts communities should incorporate local expertise and concerns. In this video, learn about co-interpretation, an AIR research method that brings researchers and stakeholders together to make meaning of data.


Social Network Analysis

Social network analysis is a relationship-mapping research method that allows researchers to find and analyze patterns within a group. Learn more about social network analysis and how they can meaningfully inform policy suggestions.


Longitudinal Studies

Longitudinal studies allow researchers to study people over a period of years or decades in order to understand patterns in things like behavior, health, policy implementation, and experiences. AIR uses longitudinal studies to explore a variety of issues, including aging: Project Talent is one of the largest longitudinal studies conducted in the U.S., which began in 1960.


Randomized Controlled Trials

One of the research methods AIR often uses is randomized controlled trials, or RCTs. RCTs are probably most widely known in the medical fields, especially for testing medication effectiveness. But this method can be used to study things such as the impact of education programs or workforce policies. Learn more about RCTs and how AIR uses them.


Communities of Practice

Communities of practice connect people in the same fields and with similar passions and facilitate professional development and learning in a structured setting. Learn more about AIR's work with communities of practice.