Refining questions to be answered with available data

  • STEP 3: Refine questions to be answered with available data


    • To finalise a set of questions based on available data and capacity


    • Activity A: Map out the data and capacities required
    • Activity B: Produce a question analysis framework


    • Document with final list of priority policy questions that can be answered with available data and capacity, agreed internally by the NIPN country team.
    • Questions analysis framework setting out availability, accessibility, quality of data and capacities required to address the policy questions.
  • Activity A: Map out the data and capacities required

    At this stage, it is important to assess the gap between what is needed for robust data analysis to answer the policy-relevant question versus what is available, as well as the challenges presented by the data.

    The NIPN policy experts review the final list of priority questions for NIPN which comes out of the workshop in Step 2, to ensure these are fully aligned with the policy makers’ priorities and the political calendar (‘window of opportunity’). They also recommend the optimal order for answering questions by data analysis, to obtain initial results which could influence the direction of the analysis.

    The NIPN data experts review the list of questions to establish whether they can be answered based on the technical feasibility criteria. To do so they will:

    • Map out the data required to respond to the questions against the data availability and accessibility, while also taking into account data quality. The data landscape will be a helpful document for this exercise (section 3.1).
    • Review the capacity required to access and analyse the necessary data using robust methods, within the necessary time frame. This capacity may already exist within the NIPN country team. If this is not the case, the capacity needs to be strengthened or acquired within the time frame in which results have to be produced. Ensure that these capacity development needs are adequately reflected in the NIPN capacity development plan (section 1.3).
    Framework for mapping data and indicators
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    Example of data mapping in a fictional country
  • Activity B: Produce a question analysis framework (1/2)

    Based on your review, produce a question analysis framework which sets out for each question:

    • The available and accessible data, its source and quality, noting data gaps.
    • The methods to be used for analysis and the time required.
    • The tools and software required.
    • The human skills required.

    Question analysis framework in Mali (from the NEP)

    Priority question n°1: "What are the reasons for the Mopti region presenting lower level indicators in relation to mother and child health and nutrition than the other regions according to the EDHS-V (2015-2016)"

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    Question analysis framework from Niger (from the NIPN)

    Priority question n°4: "What is the state of financial investments in nutrition in Niger and their evolution in relation to the needs as defined in the mutlisectoral nutrition plan of action?

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  • Activity B: Produce a question analysis framework (2/2)

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    At this stage, the policy and data components need to work hand in hand. It is never an ideal situation: to a certain extent, decisions have to be based on a judgment call. It is important to keep in mind initial strategic opportunities & timing (window of opportunity). Conclusions made about the data themselves (gaps or quality limitations) are also useful information.

    Based on this high-level assessment of the technical feasibility, the NIPN policy experts and NIPN data experts will decide together on the final ranking of the full set of policy questions on which the NIPN team will work at the top. The question analysis framework makes it possible to document and keep track of the questions that can and will be answered completely or partially by NIPN, or others, and which questions have lower priority and for which the time and human resources’ investment is not feasible.

    Prior to beginning data analysis, the NIPN data experts will need to work out a much more detailed data analysis plan to guide the work of the NIPN data experts. This is further described in the guidance note on data analysis (section 3.4).