Collaboration in Commissioned Research: Benefits and Challenges of Scholar–Practitioner Partnerships in Conflict Contexts
By Drew Mikhael, Queen’s University Belfast and Julie Norman, University College London
Commissioned research projects for non-governmental organisation (NGOs) can cause a number of ethical and methodological problems for researchers who take on these projects. The biggest hurdle to overcome is ensuring the delivery of recommendations that are implementable while maintaining an approach that facilitates a deeper analysis of the problematic practices by development organisations that can worsen systemic social, economic and political inequality.
Reflecting on our research work for non-governmental organisation programs in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, we outline the means in which collaborative methods can help tackle key issues thrown up by commissioned research projects. We argue that commissioned research can be a worthwhile and productive experience for commissioners, scholars and importantly participants. Collaborative methods can help construct equitable working relationships with local partners, tackling power asymmetries while being able to help draw out deeper reflections and create data that can speak to wider political dynamics.