- “Always very helpful – an invaluable service.”
- “Such a great time saver. Responses are always quick and staff really helpful and friendly.”
- “I am pleasantly shocked at how quickly my enquiry was dealt with.”
If customer satisfaction is an organisation’s best marketing tool, then the Idox Information Service could base a whole campaign on feedback from our members.
Over the past forty years, first as the Planning Exchange and more recently as the Idox Information Service, we’ve built up a strong reputation as a vital source of reliable information on public and social policy. One of our most popular services has been ‘Ask-a-Researcher’, which enables anyone working in an organisation subscribing to the Idox Information Service to submit requests for literature searches.
We’ve previously explained the care our team of research officers takes in putting together and adding value to the information we find in response to enquiries. Our members in both the public and private sectors have always been appreciative of this work, but the feedback we’ve been receiving in recent months has been particularly positive. Enquirers most often highlight the depth of information provided, the wide range of sources used, the inclusion of the most up-to-date information and the fast turnaround times between enquiry submission and response.
In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at why ‘Ask-a-Researcher’ has been so popular, focusing on real-life enquiries we’ve received and showing what our service users thought of the results.
Finding the facts
Our Research Officer Steven McGinty recently responded to an enquiry from Pamela Buchanan at North Lanarkshire Council requesting information on social work practice, and specifically on working with hard to reach groups, teenagers, and service users.
Steven began his response by searching the Idox database, using a selection of search terms such as ‘social work’, ‘young people’ and ‘hard-to-reach’. He then organised the retrieved results into chronological order, and divided them into three sections: working with hard to reach groups; working with teenagers; and communication with service users. To accompany the results, Steven presented a summary, highlighting a number of resources of particular interest. In addition, he also conducted an online search, which generated further resources, most of which focused on communication within social work.
After reviewing Steven’s results, Pamela responded with an enthusiastic assessment:
“Fantastic! Thanks so much, Steven. Excellent communication, very timeous.”
Experience, skills and added value
Colin Pidgeon from the Northern Ireland Assembly approached the Idox Information Service for help in finding information on government policies that have tried to mitigate the effects of negative equity.
In response, Idox Research Officer Heather Cameron conducted a search of our database which returned a number of items related to negative equity and indebtedness. In her summary of the results, Heather noted that there was a lack of evidence specifically on government interventions to mitigate against negative equity, however a number of reports (such as one published by The Smith Institute) considered preventive policy actions and interventions that might be appropriate.
Colin was pleased with the results and recognised the skills of our research officers in finding the most relevant material:
“Every time I have used the service, Idox researchers have managed to turn something up that I hadn’t previously located through our library.”
The time-saving service
Many of our members often mention how much time our searches have saved them. While some aren’t able to quantify the exact time saved, others are happy to make estimates. After our research officer, Stacey Dingwall carried out a search for Ceri McMillan from North Ayrshire Council, Ceri replied with her thanks, estimating that Stacey’s search had saved her some seven hours of work. Another search, carried out by Steven for Skills Development Scotland was estimated to have saved 2-3 days of desk research. And a highly complex search carried out by Stacey and Heather for Chloe Billing at City-REDI was estimated to have saved Chloe a week’s worth of research.
Steven, Stacey and Heather, along with Donna Gardiner, Rebecca Jackson and James Carson have backgrounds in research, information science or public policy. A special mention should also go to Mhari Glen, our Information and Communications Assistant, who frequently receives messages of thanks for her quick and efficient dispatch of articles and books from our library.
It’s this kind of personal, tailored, dedicated service that has earned the Idox Information Service so many appreciative responses. Our members like dealing with people who are skilled and experienced in managing information, and who are ready to listen and respond to their needs.
It’s a reputation we’re happy to live up to.
In their own words: what our members think of Ask-a-Researcher
- “You have provided me with an excellent overview of what literature is available for my topic of interest.” – Charlotte Hoole, City-REDI
- “I have already recommended it to colleagues and students. Having up to date information is vital to keep abreast of new research and developments.” – Marilyn Stewart, Shetland Islands Council
- “The speed of reply was excellent. I thought I had likely found the majority of the literature available, but this provided some great papers I had not come across.” – Naomi Saunders, Skills Development Scotland
- “Fabulous information, gathered so quickly. I would not have found all this information.” – Jackie Timmins, Birmingham City Council
- “Saved me a lot of time and has given me access to a variety of resources.” – Jenni Kerr, Glasgow City Council
- “Idox are officially our biggest life savers.” – Clare Hammond, Rocket Science
- “Disarmingly fast! Well targeted. Helpful.” – David Ottiwell, Greater Manchester Combined Authority – Research and Strategy
Members of the Idox Information Service may access the Ask-a-Researcher service by logging into the Information Service website and then choosing the Request a Search option.
If you would like to know more about the benefits of Idox Information Service membership, including the Ask-a-Researcher service, please get in touch with our customer development team today.
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