Consultation jargon buster

A guide to some of the terms used in the consultation process.

Closed questions
A question where your answer is limited to one of a few options, like 'yes'/'no' or 'satisfied'/'not satisfied'. These questions produce quantitative results.

Consultation
Two-way communication between the council and the public, where ideas can be exchanged and both parties can learn from each other.

Data
Data is all the results that we collect from a consultation before it has been analysed, for example the numbers and percentages collected from a questionnaire. Data is mostly meaningless until it is analysed and converted into useful information.

Elected members
These are the councillors that are elected by the public.

Facilitators
These are the people who run a consultation event.

Information
Information is what we get from the raw data after it has been analysed. When the data has been converted into information, it can then be used to inform the decisions we make.

Methodology
The way in which a consultation is carried out.

Officer
A member of council staff.

Online form
A page on the Internet where questions can be filled in electronically. They are much like the traditional forms or questionnaires you might be used to but have many more advantages e.g. the information submitted can be automatically entered into a database which analyses the results; helpful prompts can be added to each box to help you fill them in correctly; and resources and time are saved as there is less administration and no printing costs.

Open question
A question where you are free to express your own personal views in the answer. This kind of question produces qualitative results.

Procurement
This term relates to how the council finds and buys the resources that it needs to provide services. Resources can include everything from office stationery to contractors for a building project.

Qualitative
A method of consultation which collects opinion based, anecdotal evidence, eg focus groups.

Respondent
The person who is answering questions or giving comments in the consultation.

Services
Services the council provides, including, for example: waste collection, benefits and planning.

Stakeholders
Anyone who holds an interest in the service. This can include members of the public and service users, partner agencies (such as the Police Force, the Health Authority or the voluntary sector), or staff working in the council.

User
A person who uses one or more of the services that the council provides.

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