You can find the most recent iteration of our emerging analytical framework at the following link: FRAMEWORK – SEMINAR 2

The aim of this seminar series is to better understand how research partnerships between universities and international INGOs work and how they might be improved to ensure that the research produced is relevant, rigorous and responsive to the needs of its users and beneficiaries.

To address this aim, the seminar series takes as its starting point the role of ‘evidence’ in research partnerships and is guided by the following questions:

  • where is evidence produced?
  • who controls it?
  • how is it valued and accessed?
  • who defines what good evidence is?
  • what are the implications for the types of methods, texts, technologies and tools used and skills valued in partnerships?
  • what are the implications for how different partners get to participate in different ways and at different stages of the research process?
  • could different types of participation in research partnerships lead to the production of different types of evidence?

There is already an ample body of research (produced by both academics and practitioners) which explores the interrelated issues of participation in partnerships for international development (e.g. Archer & Newman 2003, Burns et al 2011, Clarke and Oswald 2010, Holland 2013) and how different notions of evidence advanced by different stakeholder frame partnerships (e.g. Beardon and Newman 2011; Cornish & Gillespie, 2009; Cornish et al, under review; Eyben 2013; Newman 2011; Shutt 2011).

In order to integrate these two strands of thinking, we have started to explore the (opportunities for and constraints on) good participation in partnerships by focusing on the following levels:

  • Institutions (assumptions, agendas, structures, processes)
  • Research literacies (skills and communication practices required for effective co-production of research)
  • Research artefacts (tools, techniques, technologies; texts to support the research process)

At the institutional level, studies have explored shifts in how knowledge is valued within and produced through INGOs (e.g. Beardon and Newman 2011; Newman 2011; Shutt 2011; Yanacopulos 2014, 2005) and also the changing notions of ‘evidence’, ‘impact’ and ‘knowledge transfer’ in HEIs (e.g. numerous posts on the LSE impact blog).

At the level of research literacies, an emerging body of research is drawing on practitioner resources on participatory methods of communication (Archer & Newman 2003) and research in the field of academic literacies (Fransman 2013; Lea & Street 1998) to expore the new ‘evidence literacies’ required for collaborative research (e.g. Pettit et al 2009). Related studies have drawn attention to methodological plurality (Holland 2013) and the politics of power in research relationships (Burns et al 2011) and explored strategies for strengthening the capacities of a diversity of actors (Clarke and Oswald 2010).

And finally, at the level of the artefact, research on the ‘politics of method’ has interrogated the assumptions embedded in ‘evidence artefacts’ (Cornish & Gillespie, 2009; Cornish et al, under review; Eyben 2013) and more broadly, the influence of the social and material affordances of technologies and texts on the research process (Fransman 2012, 2013; Yanacopolus 2007).

Thinking across these three levels is just one way of understanding the politics of evidence and participation in research partnerships. A context-setting survey, which was distributed to a wider range of seminar participants, generated some other ways of organizing our analysis of research partnerships. You can find a summary of the themes we identified here. Participants have also been invited to submit their own ‘position-papers’/’think-pieces’/ideas/understandings which will soon be available here. We will also be keeping track of the emerging questions and frameworks, which arise from the seminars. And please feel free to add your own thoughts or questions in the comments section of this page.

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