Operations research impacts how analysts understand data and thereby their recommendations to policymakers. The purpose of these classes is to introduce those who may be interested in becoming operations research practitioners to the origins and techniques as well as introduce operations research “consumers” – government policy and military decision makers, and business executives – to the methods and approaches their operations research support would apply. Included in this course are classes on the history of operational analysis, analysis planning, data collection, analysis reporting, statistics, surveys and structured interview. Dwight Lyons, an operations research practitioner since 1984, will teach this six part series of analysis classes over a full two-day period.
Topic One: Operational Analysis
Operational Analysis (OA), also known as Operational Research (OR), is the application of the scientific method to complex, mushy, problems. It provides decision-makers with techniques for measuring effectiveness, different perspectives, and bases of decisions for courses of action. OR uses scientific methods to investigate problems and produce results. This class will cover the origins of OR, role of analysis, types of analysis, methods, and guidelines as well as event design, executive and reconstruction.
Topic Two: Analysis Planning
Review components analyst will need to effectively plan and then implement in a study. Planning structures must cover the details of formulating, solving, communicating the problem and administering resources. An analyst’s plan must consider the background, objectives, approach to solve the problem, tasks, deliverables, resources, and coordination of people and equipment.
Topic Three: Data Collection
Techniques and tips on data collection. Whether the data is collected via interviews, checklists, or automatic electronic data capture, data collection efforts are integral to what and how much the analyst can review later in the study. In addition, data collectors’ objectives may differ from the goals of the analysts. The data collection plans may change if during the beginning of the study it is realized the objectives could be captured more effectively.
Topic Four: Analysis Reporting
Emphasizes the importance of delivering an audience-centric report. The basis of the structure of the analysis report is determined by the analyst at the start of the formulation of the study during the background and objectives phase. Deliverables may include first impressions after the event completion, quick-looks, and/or final reports. Formats may range from formal publications that have executive summaries and appendixes to annotated briefing slides. Regardless of format, the reporting should always keep the intended audience in mind, whether they are executive decisionmakers, program officers, or department analysts.
Topic Five: Introduction to Statistics – uses and abuses
A review of some of the basic uses of statistics to be used to represent the analysis of the data collected. It also provides examples of how statistical data can be used effectively, or abused to skew results. It provides an overview of types of statistics (e.g. classical, Bayesian) as well as measures of central tendencies, distribution, and statistical significance. The class will review reoccurring concerns for the analyst to keep in mind, such as sampling problems (e.g. size, biases), interpreting statistics, and then communicating results properly to non-mathematically inclined audiences, including displaying information graphically.
Topic Six: Surveys and Structured Interviews
The fundamentals of surveys and structured interviews to gain insights for event participants for research evaluation. Attendees will learn about survey constructions, such as types of questions to frame, demographics, Likert scales, as well as interview guidelines. These methods can provide unique insight to cases where participants agree or disagree. The class will review the advantage of redundancy in responses in surveys and interviews for data gathering.