Presentations now available from the Research Methodology Workshop

Issued 10 May 2016


One Day Research Methodology Workshop for Development Practitioners: "Research for Results"

This event was co-organised by DSA Ireland, TIDI & TIME.



Closing Remarks by Professor Ronnie Munck (DSA Ireland Secretary)

This one-day methods workshop brought together a wide range of researchers, practitioners and policy-makers in productive dialogue. The topics covered included randomized control trials in a development context, the complexity and benefits of cross-disciplinary research, the challenges of conducting research in areas where violence was prevalent and the potential of a ‘grounded theory’ approach in a development context.

What I would like to highlight is the challenges ahead of development research. In an honest appraisal of research for Development the World Bank admits that “there is a dearth of research for development strategy” and that “there are concerns about the relevance of some aspects of current development research”. Relevance is about the external validity of research findings and not just their internal reliability. The World Bank further finds that “ there is concern that much present-day research….is too narrowly focused” and that “a more strategic approach  to research is needed”. This to me is an indication that DSA Ireland and others have a responsibility for looking critically at development research as well as enhancing research capacity for researchers and practitioners alike.

One of the possible ways to increase the relevance and impact of development could be through the promotion of knowledge co-production. That would mean closer researcher/practitioner links but also a greater participation by the Southern research ‘subject’ in the setting of the research agenda. Increasingly cutting-edge research is aware of the needs of the ‘user community’ that is those in society for whom the research is about and/or for. Development research is perhaps too much set in the technocratic mode of seeking technical fixes for what are essentially, social problems. We could talk much more about what the co-production of knowledge might mean for development research.

Finally we should mention some specific recommendations (or questions) coming out of the workshop discussions:

  1. Would it not be possible for Irish researchers working on similar topics in different locations to share their data and even engage in larger-scale comparative research?
  2. Do Irish development research projects deposit their data in a central location where, following open-access conventions, other researchers can get access to their data sets?
  3. There was a widespread feeling that these open workshops could be extended to deal in more detail with specific topics. Feedback from all is welcome!



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