Identifying needs often requires research. In large projects like hospitals, clients are sometimes not fully aware of their organizations needs, because of its vastness, the complexity of its processes and the changes they are undergoing. In some cases, clients are building for niche populations (e.g. the elderly, children) who have non-standard needs, with which neither the client nor the design team is familiar.In such cases, research will help to form a clearer picture of users and their needs, answering basic questions like: Who are the buildings users and what are their characteristics? What are their daily activities? What kind of artefacts or equipment do they use? And what are their cultural norms and values concerning the use of space? The research methods that can be used for answering such questions are mostly borrowed from the social sciences. This is not so strange because social sciences, such as anthropology and sociology, are geared to gaining insight into human behaviour. Briefing research has a similar goal, although it is targeted at very specific groups of people and has a much more practical objective. Interviews are the most frequently used research method because they are a fairly easy way of obtaining a first-hand impression of a buildings users. Other possible methods are surveys, different kinds of observational studies and social network analysis (see Techniques, page 93, for a complete overview). Ideally, multiple methods should be applied concurrently, because that makes it possible to combine and compare different kinds of dataa technique that scientists refer to as triangulationwhich improves the validity of the research outcomes. It should be said, however, that most projects lack time and resources for a wide-ranging research process. Even in large projects, there is usually only time for interviews, a survey and, if one is lucky, occupancy measurements. More research would obviously benefit the validity and credibility of the brief, but the goal of briefing research is not to find the truththere is no such thing in briefing anyway. The goal is to provide an informed perspective on the buildings users and to validate assumptions about their needs concerning the building. Recommendations-Combine research methods. Looking at the same topic from different perspectives will add to the validity of the research outcomes.-Hire external experts for specialized research activities (e.g. statistical analysis of survey data).-Consult relevant literature: there is likely to be research available from similar projects that can be used as a basis, benchmark or inspiration for client-specific research.-Do not overload the project with research data. Select, analyse and visualize research data before they are communicated to decision makers and the design team.-Even when there is little time for research, maintain an enquiring attitude: look at and listen to what users say and do. Do not jump to conclusions or make presumptions.