A research brief is a set of instructions which are issued by the client to the researcher. Essentially, the better the brief, the more likely the research will meet the client's needs! A good researcher will discuss the brief very carefully with the client, asking lots of questions and clarifying issues, before writing a proposal to explain how they will address the client's research problem. There may be further discussions and amendments before the proposal is agreed. So in this sense, these two elements of the Brief and the Proposal form the contract between the two parties. If there are any issues later down the line, it is that brief and the subsequent discussions or changes, which will determine who pays for any mistakes to be put right.
I've received all different formats of brief over the years - from 20 page documents written in impenetrable management speak that make it hard to even understand the nature of the client's business to a two sentence scrappy email! Neither of these are great ways to set out a brief but generally 2-3 sides of pertinent information will get the job done.
Here's a basic structure for your brief:
Background to your organisation and the research problem: Who are you and what is the nature of your business? What has happened to make you consider commissioning some market research?
Objectives - what do you need to know? You might have some particular aims or research questions (what, where, why, when, etc..). You should also discuss how you will use the research data and what kind of outputs you need e.g. what kind of decisions will you make on the back of these findings? This is important for the researcher who could determine the research approach from this information.
Useful information - is there a way to define your target audience (the people or businesses you want to research)? Do you already have access to them e.g. via a database? Is there anything the researcher should be aware of? Do you have an idea of what kind of research or data you are looking for?
Logistics - the final section is more about resourcing. Who are the sponsors or stakeholders for this research? Is it shared across budget codes or departments? When do you need the proposal by and the research to be finished? Do you have a budget in mind? How will you choose a research provider? Who is available to discuss the brief with the researcher?
Once you've worked your way through these questions, you should have enough information for the researcher to propose a viable solution. Good luck! And if Revelio Marketing can help, do get in touch.