Rapid appraisal is an approach for developing a preliminary, qualitative understanding of a situation. This paper identifies three basic concepts - (1) a system perspective, (2) triangulation of data collection, and (3) iterative data collection and analysis - and suggests that they provide a conceptual foundation for rapid appraisal and a rationale for the selection of specific research techniques. The basic concepts and their related research techniques provide a flexible but rigorous approach for data collection and analysis by a team of two or more individuals, usually with different academic discipline backgrounds. The paper reviews the history of rapid appraisal, provides a definition, discusses the three basic concepts and the illustrative research techniques associated with them, argues for flexibility, and suggests the use of a "Data Collection Checklist" to remind the team of important concepts and as a means by which the reader of a report can estimate the degree of confidence that can be placed in the results.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_beebe/6/