Space Considerations

A second consideration concerns staff needs with respect to space and equipment (e.g., telephone, computer, tablets). Availability of space and other needed resources vary tremendously among research environments. Space is always tricky as research staff are typically hired for a relatively brief period (1-5 years) to carry out particular research-related tasks supported through external grant funds. Thus, many institutions develop makeshift spaces or identify ad hoc locations for persons. If possible, however, it is preferable to negotiate space in which all project-related staff are in relative proximity (same floor, same office suite) as opposed to being dispersed across different buildings, wings, or floors. Dispersion of staff may result in the need to duplicate study materials and lead to inefficiencies and difficulties in supervising and smoothly performing daily research operations. Similarly, securing the right type of space is important. Staff responsible for screening or interviewing study participants by telephone will need quiet and private space, whereas those who need to remain masked to group allocation must be physically separated from those who need to be aware of group assignments. Thus, the location of staff offices can have methodological implications with some office space configurations presenting a challenge for maintaining confidentiality and concealment of group assignments. Furthermore, staff who spend most of their time in the “field” for interviewing or providing interventions in participants’ homes or at community settings or agencies may not require dedicated office space; however, they will still need a touchdown space to complete computer or paperwork associated with their research tasks. Also, having ready access to adequate locked storage capacity for keeping informed consents and other data forms are important space considerations with methodological import.

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