We design mixed methods research projects that are grounded in social science theories, engage citizens through digital channels, and deliver robust, credible evidence to inform development and governance programmes.
Development and governance actors come to us in need of meaningful and actionable insights that will help to inform, monitor, and evaluate their programmes. We provide them with the knowledge and resources to be able to engage hard-to-reach social groups, and effectively interpret and apply data insights.
From the rich insights we provide, our partners can better understand the citizens they serve. This leads to evidence-based and impactful programmes and policy – ultimately enhancing the well-being and agency of people living in African countries.
ROBUST RESEARCH DESIGN
All of our projects begin with a tailored research design and a set of research questions, developed in collaboration with our partners to ensure it addresses their needs. For example:
- In Somalia, what are the differences between parents who vaccinate their children against polio and those who do not?
- What are the Turkana people’s opinions and expectations about the oil and gas developments in their region?
We design our projects for impact. By this, we mean that we always have the ultimate objective in mind: for citizen’s voices to influence and shape policy and programmes towards their realities. As a result, we work closely with our partners throughout the research design, implementation, and insight generation, in order for them to contribute to and engage with the process, fully take on board our findings, and become advocates for our approach.
To collect digital data on people’s beliefs and opinions, we spark dynamic and inclusive discussions in popular forums, including radio and social media. Working with carefully selected and locally trusted media partners, we develop open-ended questions for audiences which they can respond to via free SMS, instant messaging, or social media. We consider how these questions will be processed and answered by audiences, then test and tailor for comprehension and cultural contexts.
Follow-up surveys ask for socio-demographic information (e.g. gender, age, and location) to allow for comparisons between groups, as well as closed questions (e.g. related practices). Within these forums, opinions and beliefs are expressed spontaneously, resulting in authentic citizen-generated data.
TAILORED DATA ANALYSIS
Our approach allows us to gain insights from conversations held in local languages, and on a scale previously unattainable for qualitative methods. We make sense of complex, conversational data by applying tailored analytics, developed with researchers at the University of Cambridge.
Data processing: After employing manual and automated labelling techniques to clean and prepare the data, the processed datasets enter our purposefully-built interface for data exploration. This provides a streamlined way to interpret the data, build language resources, and lay the foundations for qualitative analysis.
Insight generation: Using a social science lens, we identify patterns in the data, and discover how individual and collective beliefs, knowledge, and practices vary among different groups in society and change over time. This combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches allows us to increase both the scope and depth of our research, and provide nuanced insights to our partners.
Dissemination and impact: Always leaning towards innovation and enhancing impact, we discuss and deliver insights to partners through workshops, interactive reports, and data visualisations. See our projects for example reports.