ARCHIVED Annual Report 2005-2006

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Public Opinion Research in 2005-2006 in the Government of Canada

Total Projects Coordinated Through the Public Opinion Research Directorate

The dollar value of public opinion research (POR) coordinated through the Public Opinion Research Directorate in 2005-2006 was $26.8 million, down from $29 million the previous year. The 2005-2006 number of 516 projects was also lower than the previous year, when 621 projects were undertaken. Federal government POR activities were lower in 2005-2006 as a result of the suspension of research activities during the federal electoral period.

Note: Projects contracted in a fiscal year may be carried out over more than one fiscal year.

Top Departments and Agencies for All Coordinated Public Opinion Research

A three column table containing the Top Departments and Agencies for All Coordinated Public Opinion Research. Column 1 identifies the departments and agencies by ranking order, column 2 indicates the contract value and column 3 shows the number of projects.
Department/Agency Contract Value Number of Projects
Health Canada (including the Public Health Agency of Canada) 6,575 89
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada1 3,029 49
Natural Resources Canada 1,586 37
Canada Revenue Agency 1,577 25
National Defence 1,094 17
Foreign Affairs Canada and International Trade Canada2 1,018 13
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada 1,001 18
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada 905 14
Canadian Heritage 815 21
Transport Canada 803 17

With health care remaining a top public priority, Health Canada continued its investments last year and led all departments in the use of public opinion research. Health Canada's research activities include those of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC); PHAC studies account for 17 of 89 projects having a total contract value of $1,686,091. The value of contracts awarded on behalf of Health Canada accounted for 25 percent of the total contract value and 17 percent of the total projects for the Government of Canada in 2005-2006. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada* ranked second in value of contracts, as it had the previous year: the value of its 49 POR projects was almost half that of Health Canada's. Five departments and agencies had research requirements in the range of $1 million to $2 million in 2005-2006, compared with eight the previous year.

For highlights of the research undertaken by the largest users of public opinion research, see Chapter 4: Highlights of Key Public Opinion Research Projects.

Notes

1 On February 6, 2006, the Prime Minister announced that this department would be merged with Social Development Canada to create the new Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

2 On February 6, 2006, the Prime Minister announced that these two departments would be merged.

Custom and Syndicated Research

Custom public opinion research is work commissioned for a specific department or agency. The commissioning organization holds the intellectual property rights to reports and other materials generated by the project; it makes these products available to other departments and the public through the Library of Parliament and Library and Archives Canada. Results of custom research required by the federal government are in the public domain and accessible to all Canadians. Custom research accounts for most of the POR work undertaken by the government.

Syndicated research studies are developed by marketing research firms, which make them available to paying subscribers in the private and public sectors. These off-the-shelf products often contain trend information on various topics. The firms retain copyright and sole responsibility for managing the studies' content. Subscribers are usually prohibited from distributing the information to non-subscribing parties. Syndicated research can sometimes be the most cost-effective option for meeting departmental research needs because the research costs are shared among the subscribers.

In 2005-2006 the government issued contracts worth $23.9 million for 395 projects in custom research; these accounted for approximately 89 percent of the total contract value of all public opinion research for the fiscal year. Contracts on syndicated studies amounted to $2.9 million and involved 121 projects.

Type of Research as a Percentage of Total Contract Value of Coordinated Custom Research, 2003-2006

Policy Development and Program Evaluation again represented the largest segment of all custom research in the Government of Canada in 2005-2006, with 38 percent of the total contract value. In 2004-2005, this research accounted for 35 percent of all custom research. Advertising Initiatives (including advertising tracking and testing, as well as communications product testing) accounted for 21 percent, while Marketing Research stood at 14 percent in 2005-2006 compared with 17 percent the previous year. Research contracted to measure the effectiveness of the Web decreased slightly to 9 percent. Quality of Service research also decreased from 18 percent in 2004-2005 to 11 percent this year. The shares of different types of research vary from year to year according to the varying needs of institutions.

Percentage and Total Contract Value of Projects Based on Research Methodology for Coordinated Custom Research, 2005-2006

Research Methodologies Used

Research Methodologies Used

Text description of Research Methodologies Used is available on a separate page.

Quantitative research is the collecting of information from some members of a population through structured techniques, with the aim of drawing conclusions for the total target population. Generally, surveys are based on random sampling. Forty-five percent of the custom research projects undertaken in the fiscal year fell into the category of quantitative research.

Qualitative research is the collecting of information from some members of a population through unstructured or semi-structured techniques, such as focus groups or interviews. A qualitative approach is typically used when the research needed is exploratory, in-depth or about very complex issues. The approach allows for looser discussion; in such cases, this may be more effective at meeting research objectives than would an inflexible questionnaire with rigid response categories for each question. Since the research is exploratory, results cannot be projected to the general population. Forty-three percent of the custom research projects used this methodology.

Projects consisting of both quantitative and qualitative research, and those in the "Other" category (such as public opinion research design, including questionnaire design and analysis) accounted for the remaining 12 percent of custom research projects undertaken during the fiscal year.

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