The PIE Abacus as a research tool

Providing context, in research and other communities of practice

With a PIE Abacus licence. researchers will be able to create active information networks, and recruit frontline services specifically for particular research purposes.

Re-claiming the middle ground

NB: this is a short extract from the much longer discussion on the PIE Abacus as a research tool in the PIE assessment training; in the interim, for a conversation on the PIE Abacus as a research tool, you can contact the PIElink editor direct.

..... So far we have described the potential of the PIE Abacus primarily in terms of sharing information with team or service managers, networks of partners and other stakeholders, including commissioners. But the Pizazz, and especially the PIE Abacus, also creates opportunities for wider engaged research.

In between the two opposite poles of (a) broad, statistical and (b) local, qualitative research, we also have research which attempts to explore the effectiveness of interventions, by spanning multiple examples of such changes.  These must, therefore, cover a number of different locations, which may be widely dispersed; and at times in settings where face-to-face and deeply personal interviewing by the researchers themselves is not possible or not suitable.

For this kind of research, gathering together a reasonably wide range of participating services is makes the study more meaningful, provided that

  1. the participating services can themselves work in some personalised depth with individuals;
  2. they can work with a single framework for a coherent and consistent overview; and
  3. the research and researchers can be informed by other factors in each setting that may influence the course of the intervention.

PIEs 2, and the Pizazz assessment framework now provide a reasonably coherent overview, and a single, consistent but multi-facetted and fully systemic account of the work of any participating services, with the scope for variations fairly clearly identified.....

.....Researchers wanting to liaise with a range of services may value being granted on-line access directly to the views of frontline staff, managers, users and other stakeholders. Bearing in mind here that the individual input option here means that your service users can also give their own views of the intervention, or of any aspect of the research that concerns them; or if they prefer not to be singled out, they can be treated as a group, like any other ( See: FAQ: What is the point of Individual input? HERE).....

...... Since more specialist services or introductions tend to be geographically dispersed, compared with more common or more generalist services, the ability to obtain data on-line greatly reduces the otherwise high cost of repeated site visits, and/or the problems of ‘rater reliability’.....

...... For the purposes of research, we can create a bespoke Abacus for a specific project.  But where the criteria or evidence for a bespoke Abacus dovetail carefully to reflect those for the Pizazz, that is likely to be helpful, in integrating with the other elements of their service, and with such more data-led, quasi-statistical network analysis

In this way the research questions and potential findings can be located in a richer description, which may well be useful in identifying the context of improvements with any one intervention, or the wider context in which they take place.   It is also likely to produce better quality data if it’s based in self assessment material where it is actually useful to the agency, to get it right......



The simplest, most effective way to evaluate and improve your PIE from Daniel O'Brien on Vimeo.

For applications in particular settings, see:

 The PIE Abacus – in medium to large agencies, HERE.

The PIE Abacus – in local practice networks, HERE.

The PIE Abacus – in small and local services, HERE.

The PIE Abacus – in research and communities of practice, HERE.

The PIE Abacus – in service user-led assessments, HERE.

The PIE Abacus – with services using PIEs1, HERE.