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Consolidation of Unit 3 DF
by Purvi Dass - Sunday, 14 September 2014, 6:18 PM

Dear friends,

Thanks for your reflections and analysis for the question posed in  unit 3 DF. Some of you thought that  they are struggling with clarity on research question, but finally analysed it very well with their own experiences. Great learning for me too!!!

The  Reflection question was

Imagine a general research question. Think of how you might go about answering this question from the perspective of a classical social scientist, and from the perspective of a participatory researcher. How might the processes and outcomes differ?

You thought of different situations/problems/context and have generated different research questions. The examples are :

Eliza coined as “What causes high prevalence of malnutrition (stunting) among children under two years of age in Sylhet division of Bangladesh?” Taniya thought of ``How the instructional materials are helping to effective children’s learning”. She further fragmented:

  1.  How the children are being assisted to learn by instructional materials?
  2. How the teachers are being benefited by instructional materials?
  3. What are the difficulties of instructional materials that teachers face?
  4. How could be the instructional materials improvised for further revision and development?

Rahul  initially struggled for a while and emerged as winner and reflected…..Why the children dropout from the institution or schools, are continuing education in SHIKHON schools? A very inquisitive and interesting phenomenon prevalent even in India too. Tuhin writes `Is there any relationship between intimate partner violence and micro credit? You may rephrase the point as How or what relationship…. Yes or no answer to the question may not help you to develop framework. Abdul Gaffer poses “What are the factors for high prevalence of HIV among Injecting Drug Users in one cluster of Dhaka (old Dhaka areas)?” .Similarly Hejbullah writes “What is the Sexual Health Status of Female Sex Workers in Meherpur, Bangladesh?”Shanta explores about How sexual and gender-based violence against children of the tea garden will be address? Mirza Moinul discusses What are the key factors putting children at risk of drug abuse?  Masud writes “the causes behind the Unsafe Child Migration from Rural to Urban”. This could be rephrased as what are the or How child migration could be made safe…depending upon the community’s perception. Najmul feels  “Understanding of Stigma, Discrimination and Violence against Brothel Based Sex Workers’ in the Context of Bangladesh” .

Research question is based on the problem and how the problem has been defined. In PR, community identifies and defines it with the help of may or may not be with a researcher/external facilitator. As Tuhin writes  a problem/issue , that is your research question. Once the broad question has been  coined, it could be further divided in smaller parts to choose methodologies and tools in the specific context. Taniya mentions the specific questions help to set methodologies and develop research tools. A research framework is also made. This boundary helps the community and the researchers to be focussed to the problem defined or question/s generated and get the data  or answer of the question/s. As you will agree that in field situation there are many informations available which are useful but not within the framework we have drawn. This helps us to be focussed and gather relevant data only. More precise is the research question, the findings would be true to reality.

The perspective of a classical social scientist, and from the perspective of a participatory researcher.

Each one of you have analysed very well based on the perspectives how the process and outcome would differ. The learning points which emerged from collective analysis for us to remember in context of PR ( I have considered here PR only) are:

I.   Intention behind the research

  1. Identification of the problem

Problem is selected with the  community who are directly and indirectly facing the problem with or without the help of facilitator/s.

Eliza feels that family members of children under five particularly fathers, mothers/care givers of children under five and their adolescents’ siblings, community leaders, local govt actors, health and nutrition service providers etc will be able to realize and articulate stunting as a problem. Taniya emphasise that before selecting the topic the issues will be prioritized based on the field’s as well as community demand. Rahul feels that Local communities will identify the situation of dropout of their children from the school and continuing education in the SHIKHON schools .Gaffer knows that local elite, IDUs, family members & neighbour, local people etcmay take part. Tuhin  discusses the types of violence, category of family that have history of violence and financial aspects with community. Nazmul shares Sex workers community with facilitation of experts who has interest on the issue. Hejbullah feels that  FSW communities will identify their own problem or situation, analysis and interpret their problem or situation. Shanta says a small research group with the support of the community people specially  key persons of the children’s life who will play an active role. Masud feels that community will form a small group to discuss what will be their main problem.

 Tools and methods of data collection and analysis

Various methods and tools can be used depending upon the context and framework of research.

Eliza supports participatory tools such as problem tree, social resource mapping, venn diagram, daily clock, life history, story telling, etc. to analyse causes of malnutrition. Taniya writes that PRA methods can be used for  data collection with the community people even involving the children.  Rahul  suggests  small scale of survey in the areas, interview and FGD with communities, children, parents, teachers and other stakeholders (GO/NGO). Gaffer insists on more simple, easily understandable and participatory analyzing process will be customized. Tuhin shares that qualitative and PRA tools will be developed keeping in mind the strength and weakness of respondents. Nazmul believes in data collection tools, techniques and methods determined with active participation of sex workers community along with other associates. He further writes  simple, easily understandable and participatory analyzing process will be customized by the facilitation of professional researcher. Hejbullah picks up small scale of survey in the areas, interview and FGD with the target populations, their partners and service providers. Khaleda emphasizes on dialogue. Masud supports  case history, analysis and  courtyard gathering etc.

II.  The processes and outcomes

  1. Generation of knowledge

The knowledge thus generated will be owned by the community

In Eliza’s example the House Hold in particular and the community in general will become aware and more knowledgeable about the issue of malnutrition. Gaffer shares community, injecting Drug users, local elite will generate knowledge to some extent for  policy/decision makers and other activists. Moinul shares that the perspectives of the various partners and their differences of opinion are important for the process of discovery; objectivity and neutrality must be replaced by reflective subjectivity. Khaleda says community members will arrange a finding sharing session.

  1.  Use of knowledge  in terms of actions

Empowerment is the key outcome of using PR.

Eliza mentions that they would be knowledgeable about and likely to  take action on improving IYCF, WASH and individual HH action plan. Rahul feels that results or outcomes from the findings are locally accessible and useful in the community as well as the external or outsider. Gaffer writes Injecting Drug Users may  co-relate their existing knowledge, risky behavior and practices. Tuhin feels that local people will try to mitigate accordingly and utilize the findings as per needs. Nazmul feels that Sex workers community will co-relate their existing knowledge, risky behavior and practices through research findings. Khaleda shares that Community members will disseminate new knowledge and information to combat sexual and gender based violence inside the community. They will not use their Knowledge, responsibility, trust and power in negative way. Children of the community will enjoy a fearless environment. Masud shares that community will proactively fight to reach  the research findings in their practical life.

You will find that wherever general comments have been made, it has not picked up by me in consolidation. The reason being, I wanted you to think and practically apply in context of research question you have formulated.

Some examples are

` Both the pattern has it’s own advantage and weakness, depending on  research strategy and objective a researcher need to design the model’. Or ` If a professional researcher collaborate with the local community people it will bring more authentic information and layman knowledge on the research issue’ or `concerted effort to integrate three basic aspects of their work: participation (life in society and democracy), action (engagement with experience and history), and research (soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge)’. These are theories how do we practically apply them in the context we have formulated the research question.

Looking forward to meet you tomorrow and have an eventful of learning process together.

All the best,


Taniya, How a hammer can pull the knowledge, experience and learning of the community/beneficiaries and push the expertise theory in a balanced way. Like to know more when we meet  tomorrow.  Thanks