Notes from preparatory session at Ithala

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Natasha discussed the compilation of the research training manual and plans for the session:

What are the research problems that people have? Areas of insecurity? Things we should cover on our two days.

How to properly cite articles? – Oxford University Press Style Guide, on page 8, covers bibliographies.

Online resources on literature reviews – gives you some guide questions around what to consider when doing a literature review. People often start reading too broadly, but you should rather focus very narrowly at first, and then expand your scope as needed. U of Toronto guide.

Saturday the 9th until afternoon tea. Sunday the 10th, half day until lunch.

On Saturday, Ran will go through his manual. Angela’s question on the relationship between theory and research problem will be covered.

We will also focus on how to deal with data, qualitative data particularly, and how to represent information. – this is the core reading for the workshop “research methods and training material compiled and edited by Ran Greenstein”

Following chapter on types of research – one type that is discussed in some depth is about evaluation research, and we do a lot of this.

On the Sunday we will focus on the issues around qualitative research – focus group sessions, deconstructing narratives, and so forth.

Kaca wanted to look at discourse analysis, really about looking at verbal and non verbal text, but it’s quite technical.

“the choreography of qualitative research design” recommended by Ran.

Feminist research methodology – one chapter included, which traces one researcher’s journey through different theoretical and methodological techniques. The links between how you see the world and how you seek to conduct research on it.

Large chunk of reading on discourse analysis.

Last article on working with narratives, and there is quite a bit of that happening at the moment, “surveying through stories.” How to take people to the place where they become ‘activist’ In the IDRC /APC case study, something we should take out of it – we looked at the different areas in which APC needs to build research capacity. Basically five areas – the Bernard framework. This could be a useful way to go about building our research capacity over the next year or two. ‘conceiving, generating, and sustaining research.’ ‘mobilizing research-related policies, programmes, and systems.’

Anriette - Writing research briefs for contracted researchers – often they are not very clear. That’s something practical we should work on. We should assemble a network of people with specific expertise in different areas.

We could set up an online space where you could post a draft research proposal, and invite comments on methodology, and so forth, in a team environment. Then we could develop templates on developing TORs

In the BCO impact research with Debbie, one of the biggest conflicts in the process was that the contractor thought that the member org’s were just using the results of the research to legitimate their position. How do you verify your results in a relatively objective manner?

Valeria– related to the right balance between these kinds of methods that provide you with subjective data, and the ones that allow you to gather objective information (data) – how to combine these in an effective way?

Karel – for many projects that APC is developing, we are basing these projects on certain assumptions that are only valid up to a point – usually we have not justified them very well. The way we are getting this information together is really just low level info gathering, but we struggle with validating them.

Analia- we are asked by donors how to measure the impact of our work, which goes into evaluation research, how we structure indicators.

Natasha – it is valid to start from certain assumptions, but you must just state what they are, and make it clear that you are testing a particular set of theories. In the project design, you can build in this research component, as part of each project’s basic design.

Analia – how not to fall into an empirical mode of operating, to be more self-reflective and more critical of the information we gather.

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