Kercher Center Services and Activities

Professional research expertise

Principal investigators on Kercher Center for Social Research projects hold faculty appointments in the Department of Sociology and collaborating departments at Western Michigan University. They are assisted by a professional staff of researchers, a clerical staff, computer specialists and experienced graduate and undergraduate research assistants from the Department of Sociology.

Cost-effective service

The Kercher Center is available for professional consultation on various research projects. The center has often worked on a contractual basis for nonprofit organizations. As a part of Western Michigan University, the center operates on a cost-recovery basis and offers highly competitive rates.

Survey research

The Kercher Center has a professional staff with extensive experience in sampling techniques, survey design, data collection and analysis. Entire studies, from research design to final report, are completed at the Kercher Center.

The center specializes in a variety of survey methodologies and has conducted telephone, mail and Web-based surveys. Investigators on center projects have extensive experience in each of these areas. Recently, survey research has increasingly moved towards Web-based designs for a variety of reasons including the reduced cost to field the survey and the added convenience for participants. The center offers a variety of Web-based solutions for data collection including mass-marketed surveys and more private designs targeted at specific groups or individuals. Web-based surveys can also be designed with either anonymous or tracked participants, with security in place to ensure data safety.

Qualitative techniques

Kercher Center researchers also have extensive experience with a broad range of qualitative research methods and have utilized these qualitative techniques to investigate a wide range of topics. Center researchers have experience conducting open-ended, in-depth interviews; ethnographic field research; case studies on particular firms and industries; archival research; policy formulation and implementation research and comparative and historical research.

Center researchers have utilized qualitative research techniques in combination with survey research methods to conduct a variety of projects. They have used focus groups and in-depth interviewing, especially in the early stages of project development, to identify, explore and clarify important parameters, points of view and project goals for survey and evaluation projects. These techniques allows the center to better focus subsequent methodologies such as surveys and secondary data searches.

Program evaluation

The Kercher Center works closely with its clients and stakeholders and offers process and outcome evaluation, formative and summative evaluations, needs assessments and assets and other community mapping studies.

Consultation

The Kercher Center provides professional consultation on various research projects with faculty in sociology and other departments at WMU, with researchers at other universities and with representatives of government agencies and community organizations in the region.

Assisting faculty with grant seeking activities

Paul Ciccantell, director, is a former program officer in sociology at the National Science Foundation and seeks to leverage this NSF experience to assist in funded research development by department faculty and graduate students. Ciccantell meets with faculty and graduate students to discuss potential research projects, helps to identify potential funding sources for research projects and assists in proposal development and facilitates and coordinates proposal submission with the College of Arts and Sciences dean's office, the Office of the Vice President for Research and other relevant University units.