Standards for High-Quality Research and Analysis

Hallmarks of Outstanding Research and Analysis

The standards for high-quality research described previously are ones that RAND uses in the conduct and evaluation of all its studies. There are other characteristics that only the most outstanding studies meet. The additional hallmarks of high-quality research and analysis below describe special qualities of studies that RAND uses to define its institutional legacy. They express RAND's analytic aspirations. They are essential to characterizing what it means for research to be "RAND-like."

The study is comprehensive and integrative.

Over the years, RAND has distinguished itself with its willingness and ability to work with clients and sponsors to expand the scope of studies that they originally proposed or approved, in order to illuminate longer-term or broader-based issues in addition to those generated by a specific research question. RAND's multidisciplinary research style enables the analysis of problems from a wide variety of perspectives that can be synthesized into a coherent whole.

The study is innovative.

RAND has a reputation for producing innovative solutions to complex problems. All high-quality research is expected to add to the understanding of the research area—that is, to make findings or to draw conclusions that were not previously recognized. But if the research is also distinguished by freshness of design, approach, or ideas, it is innovative. If it develops new methods or ideas, applies old ones in new ways, or adapts them to new problem areas, it is innovative.

The study is enduring.

Much of RAND's policy research is undertaken in response to the immediate, specific concerns of its clients and sponsors. Historically, however, RAND has sought to go beyond the short term and to develop insights that have enduring value. The best solutions have stood the test of time. This is most obvious in cases where study findings were controversial when the work was performed but, in retrospect, are perceived to be sound and scientifically progressive. It is also clear in cases where a breakthrough methodology, such as linear programming, was developed. This quest for enduring value is one reason that RAND systematically documents its studies and, whenever possible, places research products in the public domain.