In preparation for the 2020 Plenary Council, the NCPR was invited by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to assist the Plenary Council Executive Committee with the collection and analysis of data.
Phase 1 of Journey to Plenary Council 2018‐2020 titled, “Open Dialogue & Listening” has already begun. During this phase, we are helping to collect and collate the submissions from individuals and groups engaged in the discussion and dialogue processes. A research task group has been formed to guide the process of the research over three years. The members of the task group include two members of the Plenary Council Executive Committee, two members of the Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research and two experienced researchers, renowned for their expertise in this field.
We will begin analysing the data from the submissions next year. The process of analysis is a complex one. The first step will include a rigorous de-identification of all the data. All key identifiers in the form of names, contact details and other information will be removed prior to the analysis. This will be followed by entering the data into a qualitative analysis program called NVivo. NVivo allows the researchers to read through all the responses and code them into different themes. Once the qualitative analysis is complete, it will highlight the emerging themes and shape the next stage of the Plenary Council preparations—working groups, deeper discernment, theological reflection, re-listening, face-to-face encounters and topical dialogue.
Along with the qualitative analysis, the Plenary Council data will also undergo a range of quantitative analysis using SPSS statistical software. This analysis will include a detailed demographic examination of participants’ age, religious affiliations, cultural back-ground and location. The NCPR will use this to prepare tables and graphs for use in reports and publications. Over many years the NCPR has built a reputation for presentation of statistical data in graphically appealing ways that are easily understood by a non-technical audience.
The NCPR has been granted ethics approval for the data analysis of the Plenary Council project by the Christian Research Association Human Research Ethics Committee.The findings will be reported to the Plenary Council Executive Committee and to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. They will also be available from the Plenary Council website.
Further research tools will be developed for Phase 2 as deemed necessary. For further information on the Plenary Council go to http://plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au