Round up: Collaborations between researchers and civil society
The DSA hosted a webinar on the topic of NGO and researcher collaboration to tackle inequality and injustice with:
- Beth Chitekwe-Biti, the Director of the secretariat of Slum Dwellers International;
- Naomi Hossain, political sociologist and Research Professor at the Accountability Research Center at the School of International Service at American University in Washington DC;
- Sandra Martinsone is interim Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research at BOND;
- and moderated by Michael Jennings from SOAS.
It quickly became clear in the webinar that researchers should also consider collaboration with communities, with Beth Chitekwe-Biti reminding us that “Researchers should not just talk to NGOs to the exclusion of communities who face the issues first-hand.” Beth talked about the importance of citizen-led development, pointing out that citizens of African cities often collect their own data but need the help of academia and NGOs to use this data to deliver policy changes.
Beth cautioned that by the time the researchers come to a community the problem has been defined, and the community has to respond to a problem that has been defined without them. Collaboration, she said, is about long term relationships, so the community have a say in what needs researching.
At a practical level, Sandra Martinsone from Bond pointed out that researchers and NGOs work at a different pace.
The audience also raised the issue of funding challenges, that NGOs don’t have funding to commission research. Mike Jennings from SOAS pointed out that the funding councils require researchers to define the research problem as part of the funding bid, another challenge which requires addressing for better collaborations.
To hear the full discussion around these points and more watch the video below.
Resources on collaboration
The speakers and the audience provided the following resources on the discussion points:
- Slum Dwellers International’s resources on collaboration
- Bond’s resources on collaboration
- Accountability Research Centre’s resources on collaboration
- Christian Aid: Resources for fair and equitable development research partnerships – Christian Aid
- Blog: Towards a decolonial ethic for building fair and equitable research partnerships.
- Embedding research ethics into an international development programme: a case study of Evidence and Collaboration for Inclusive Development
- Towards Decolonising Research Ethics: From One-off Review Boards to Decentralised North–South Partnerships in an International Development Programme
- Christian Aid: Rethinking research partnerships: discussion guide and toolkit
- Paper: Beyond partnerships: embracing complexity to understand and improve research collaboration for global development
- Rethinking Research Collaborative
- IDS: Rethinking Research Impact through Principles for Fair and Equitable Partnerships
- Paper: Rethinking research partnerships: Evidence and the politics of participation in research partnerships for international development
- Danida: equitable partnerships in development research projects
- Oxfam guide to research ethics