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Chapter 4

🏹 Planning and setting objectives

⏺️ First, define what you’re investigating:

  • the population of focus
  • the health topic
  • time frame
  • place
  • expected information environment elements or impacts (e.g., questions, concerns, information voids, mis- or disinformation, stigma or other specific harms)
  • Change you want to understand in your project

Complete this sentence:

By analyzing stories, we want to understand how the information environment on [health topic] affected [the population of focus] in [place] and [time frame]? How were [infodemic impacts] characterized and how were [changes] described by the storytellers?

🧑‍🤝‍🧑Next, define how your investigation will work with different partners, specifically people, communities, or organizations that could:

  • provide access to potential participants who want to share stories for collection 
  • provide access to potential focus group participants who can analyze stories
  • for communities or organizations: Benefit from having the project’s evaluation results and recommended solutions shared with them 
  • for communities or organizations: Be accountable for planning or implementing concrete solutions to identified information environment gaps

Complete this sentence:

We can work with [people/communities/orgs who have stories to share] to collect stories and recruit focus group participants who can analyze the stories from [people/communities/orgs with potential focus group participants]. We want to share the learnings from this evaluation with  [people/communities/orgs who would benefit from the results] and the [population of focus]. Ultimately, we want to engage [accountable organization] to take action to address identified gaps.

🧩 Put it all together in a project protocol (or plan), including previously defined:

  • population of focus 
  • health topic
  • time frame
  • place
  • expected information environment elements or impacts 
  • change you want to investigate

You will also need to start thinking and planning in more detail about the logistics and scope of the project. More specific considerations are outlined in the chapters that follow. Depending on how many stories, your time frame, and how many focus group discussions you will have, the protocol may be more or less complex. Here is a suggested list of components to include in a complete protocol, but do tailor to your situation. 

  • Criteria for inclusion and exclusion of:
    • Storytellers, or people from the community of focus who submit a story
    • Stories
    • Focus group participants (analysts) who will read and discuss stories

Example: Your project wants to understand the experiences of older African-American residents in urban neighborhood X on their use of local parks to support their health in a story analysis project conducted in English. Example inclusion/exclusion criteria for storytellers may include:

Inclusion criteria:

  • Resident of neighborhood X
  • Identifies as African-American
  • Has lived in neighborhood X for at least two years
  • Is 60 or older 
  • Is able to communicate in English to tell their story

Exclusion criteria includes people who do not fit these criteria.

For the overall project, choose a target number of stories to collect and a target number of focus groups to hold. This will also help you determine how many story analysts need to be recruited. The protocol should contain the following:

  • Number of stories to collect (sample of stories)
  • How stories will be screened (in addition to inclusion/exclusion criteria)
  • Target number of stories to be analyzed
  • Number of focus groups and focus group participants

Community engagement and dissemination planning:

  • Plans for how to engage community in storytelling project
    • How to solicit and collect stories, including what incentives (monetary or other) may be offered
    • How to recruit focus group discussion participants, including what incentives (monetary or other)
    • How to disseminate and share final report and collect community feedback

Also, include all templates and scripts that will be used to collect and analyze data, such as:

  • Story collection template
  • Facilitator discussion guide for focus groups
  • Rapid note-taker template based on discussion guide
  • Any story analysis templates
  • Informed consent for story collection
  • Informed consent for focus group participation

Plan for how to organize, implement and document project:

  • Project budget
  • Outline of project team and partner roles and responsibilities
  • Filing system for stories, consent forms, and focus group discussion materials and recordings
  • Focus group participant log, including assigned stories and contact information
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs) and logs on soliciting and collecting stories and participant recruitment

💡Build a one-pager written in simple language about your project that includes the following:

  • The challenge
  • How the project helps tackle the challenge
  • Overview of project steps
  • Organizations involved in the project
  • Resources/support needed from the community
  • How the community can get involved (e.g., providing stories, participating in focus groups, attending a dissemination meeting)
  • How participating individuals and community can benefit from this project
  • The privacy and/or confidentiality policy in place
  • Point of contact for further information

You can use the sentences you constructed from the templates above to build some key messages for this one-pager. You might want to consider developing a simple graphic  or short video that can easily be shared on social media and messaging apps to urge people to get involved. You could suggest having a place online where project information is readily available, like a designated social media page or a webpage on the hosting organization’s website.

👍Get project sign-off and approval from partner organizations, any ethics or institutional review boards, and community-level leadership before beginning story collection. This step can take time, so plan ahead to obtain necessary sign-offs well in advance.

Visit the resources page for templates, tools, and more.
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