Taking the research experience seriously : a framework for reflexive applied research in development
MetadataShow full item record
Altmetrics Handle Statistics
Altmetrics DOI Statistics
Interdisciplinary scholarly literature considers how research processes may adversely affect their participants. Building on this work, this article addresses the processes and practices of applied research in contexts in which imbalances of power exist between researchers and those being researched. We argue that research activities in international development and humanitarian work that are typically operational, such as needs assessments, baseline studies, and monitoring and evaluation, represent interventions in the lives of participants, with the potential to create value or harm, delight or distress. The ethical and methodological dilemmas of this intervention have received less attention than purely academic discussions of human subject research. How can applied researchers meaningfully reckon with the effects of the research process on both those conducting it and those participating in it throughout the research cycle? In response, we introduce an approach co-developed over seven years through engagement with applied researchers across sectors. We discuss four interrelated principles—relevance, respect, right-sizing, and rigor—intended to invite a commitment to ongoing process improvement in the conduct of applied research. We also propose a framework to guide the implementation of these principles and illustrate the tensions that may arise in the process of its application. These contributions extend conversations about research ethics and methods to the operational research realm, as well as provide concrete tools for reflecting on the processes of operational research as sites of power that ought to be considered as seriously as the findings of data collection activities.
Krystalli , R , Hoffecker , E , Leith , K & Wilson , K 2021 , ' Taking the research experience seriously : a framework for reflexive applied research in development ' , Global Studies Quarterly , vol. 1 , no. 3 , ksab022 . https://doi.org/10.1093/isagsq/ksab022
Global Studies Quarterly
Copyright © The Author(s) (2021). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial-NoDerivs licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial reproduction and distribution of the work, in any medium, provided the original work is not altered or transformed in any way, and that the work is properly cited.
DescriptionThis work was supported in part by the United States Agency for International Development (grant number AID-OAA-A-12-00095, 2011–2022).
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.