Making sense of your results

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pair of cyclistsThe initial analysis that can be viewed online will give you some useful insight into the benefits of a path network, but you need to make some calculations in order to find out specific answers, such as the economic benefit.

Summarising the responses is an important part of the whole evaluation and you need to decide which questions have given you the most useful answers. Based on these figures, you can formulate statements that help to highlight the benefits as well as any short-comings or challenges.
Using the spreadsheet, you can Sum the various totals that relate to expenditure by visitors to give you the amount that people expect to spend. In Microsoft Excel it is possible to filter this data further, which would allow you to select, for example, respondents from outwith the postcode sector of the local economy (answered ‘visitor’ to question 13) who chose to visit because of the path network (answered ‘quite a lot’ or ‘specific reason’ to question 20). These are the people who directly CONTRIBUTE to the economic benefit of the path network.

You can then calculate the mean value of EXPENDITURE for those who contribute to the economic benefit and the proportion of total users that are people who are CONTRIBUTORS. You can then calculate the economic benefit per user in the following way:

BENEFIT PER USER (£) = mean EXPENDITURE (£) x CONTRIBUTOR proportion (%)

5.1 Being careful with your interpretation

The analysis of your responses gives you a ‘snapshot’ of the people who were using the network during the time of the survey. The difficult part is to extrapolate those results to estimate the total benefits for the network. Unfortunately, there are too many factors that could affect your results so this toolkit cannot give you a simple way of calculating the total. Once the responses have been collected, you need to consider how representative your data is likely to be - it is difficult to make any meaningful adjustments to any figures, but if you have unusually high or low figures (compared with your anecdotal ‘gut feeling’ for the network), it is worthwhile outlining where the ‘errors’ might have occurred.

For example, collecting data only on sunny days during the peak season may give you an unusually high proportion of CONTRIBUTORS that doesn’t represent the overall pattern for the year. This would inflate the BENEFIT PER USER and give an over-estimate of the total economic benefit. The converse is true if rainy days in the depths of winter are the only source of responses.

However, a reasonable estimate can be made for each season where you have collected responses, and this could be combined with automatic visitor counter figures. Assuming that there are 9000 users in summer and that the BENEFIT PER PERSON is £9.10, you could show that the total economic benefit for summer is £81,900 (these figures are approximations from the Abriachan path network in 2006).

Returning to the issue of statistics (highlighted in section 4.4), your completed analysis should show the upper and lower figures in your calculations, based on the degree of confidence in your data. The following table shows why it is important to collect a reasonable number of responses:

Estimated summer benefit = £81,900 Minimum benefit Maximum Benefit Range
1,537 interviews (2.5% confidence interval) £79,852.50 £83,947.50 £4,095.00
384 interviews (5% confidence interval) £77,805.00 £85,995.00 £8,190.00
100 interviews (9.8% confidence interval) £65,683.80 £89,926.20 £24,242.40

 The value of qualitative data

Remember that the evaluation is not just about figures. Take time to read through the comments that people have made - you can often find important opinions that cannot be drawn out by looking only at numbers. You may find it useful to include some ‘typical’ comments, and be sure to include any negative responses where they are relevant.

5.2 Doing something with the data

This is the ultimate aim of the evaluation - it is not an ‘end’ in itself. You should be able to select some aspects of the evaluation that show how successful you have been and it can even be viewed positively (when seeking additional funding) to show where there are gaps or areas that need further work. If you are able to write a report and ‘publish’ it on the internet, then the information can be shared and accessed by potential funders. The easiest way of doing so is to provide a copy of the report to the Partnership and this can then be placed on the website.

About the toolkit

This toolkit has been designed and written by Walking-the-Talk based on research and initial development by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.

© 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh