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Training Workshop on Research Design and Methodology for Standards (Zurich)

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World Trade Center Zürich

Leutschenbachstrasse 95

8050 Zürich


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Event description


Join us for a full day to learn and discuss the basics of research design, methodology and impact evaluation through a training workshop designed specifically for standards’ practitioners. The workshop will customise key methodological concepts for application in the field of sustainability standards along with practical tips and exercises. The workshop is aimed at M&E staff of standards systems, businesses or other peer organisations and requires some basic prior understanding of research and evaluation concepts.

What are the key learning objectives?

  • Introduce basic methodological and statistical concepts that we consider essential for standards’ practitioners to understand – this includes the difference between qualitative and quantitative research and data, sampling, hypothesis testing and statistical validity and power.

  • Learning about research design including how to approach research, formulating research questions and different types of research and designs

  • An in-depth understanding of impact evaluation of sustainability standards including concepts such as counterfactual thinking, ‘treatment and control’, causality and attribution

  • Understanding the basics of research ethics and making ‘claims’ from research in this field

  • Receive an overview of different research methods that are relevant and useful for standards’ research

How is the day structured?

(provisional outline – subject to change)

The workshop is comprised of four main sessions:

Research methodology for sustainability standards: back to the basics

This session will provide an introduction to the day and overview of what is different and difficult about researching sustainability standards. We will introduce basic concepts that are essential to undertaking / understanding research in this field including hypothesis testing, validity, power and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research through simple exercises and cross-learning. The session will build the base for the following three modules of the day.

Designing research: key steps of the process

Designing a research study can be a daunting task! In this session, we will delve into the process of how to approach and design a research study by taking participants through the key steps in the process. Participants will be introduced to the stages of research design including learning how to formulate research questions, background research, thinking through various design possibilities and how to identify the right one, and the analysis process. Participants will have the opportunity to learn through practical exercises and group discussions.

Lunch break

Evaluating impact: fundamental concepts and challenges

This in-depth session will delve into the field of impact evaluation (IE) of sustainability standards. Participants will be introduced to the fundamental concepts in the field of IE including identifying treatment and control, counterfactual thinking and designing experimental, quasi-experimental and non-experimental evaluation designs for sustainability standards’ research. The session will include an opportunity for participants to think through and design the basics of an impact evaluation for their system / organisation by applying the learning through the day. It will also provide practitioners with a good overview of the challenges that they might face while conducting impact evaluations and how to overcome them.

Drawing conclusions and ethical considerations

This last section will focus on the often ignored challenge of how to draw conclusions from available research and essential do’s and don’ts. We will also cover the most important research ethics and protocol questions that all practitioners should bear in mind while commissioning or undertaking research in this field.

What will we not cover

The training course is tailored to standards’ practitioners to give participants an overview of research design, methodological basics and impact evaluation in the field of sustainability standards. We will NOT cover the basics of monitoring and evaluation such as building an M&E system or Theory of Change as these are covered in ‘Building the Foundations of a Robust M&E system’ training workshop. We will also NOT go into discussion and details of data collection approaches or tools as this will be covered comprehensively in ISEAL’s data skills lab to be run through the year for ISEAL members.

Tickets for this workshop

This is a new workshop offered by ISEAL for the benefit of members and other standard-setters and organisations engaging with sustainability standards. ISEAL are offering one free ticket to every ISEAL member organisation, and all other tickets at subsidised rates. If you are unsure of what category of ticket to purchase, please contact

More information

For more information email ISEAL's Membership and Services team at

Space is limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Picture credit: Tea leaves, Kenya © Ola Höiden for Fairtrade

Terms & Conditions

Please review ISEAL's Training and Events Terms & Conditions before booking a workshop.

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World Trade Center Zürich

Leutschenbachstrasse 95

8050 Zürich


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