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About WICID Methods Lab

Our focus

We work together with our partners to research and produce critical knowledge exchange and teaching materials. We also work together to produce inventive indicators and development measures to advance rigorous research on our themes. The Lab, therefore, work with both quantitative and qualitative methods and engage with methodological debates in pursuance of rigorous and interdisciplinary research.

We pursue collaborations with scholars in the UK and in particular our global partners to produce working papers and academic publications on our collaborative research that speak directly to policy-making and review.

What we research

WML researches how we learn and therefore how to study development. Fundamentally, we live in a complex world; complexity defines it. We need ways of seeing and studying that are innovative enough to understand and address these complexities.

We also live in a deeply unequal and often violent world. Histories of violence, colonialism and change have shaped societies and processes of knowledge production, leading to forms of epistemic privilege as well as marginalisation.

We need challenging, complex and compound pedagogies, methods and methodologies to understand and communicate this complexity.

How we collaborate

WICID does not treat knowledge production as an individual enterprise; it has a collaborative approach towards research and learning. Ideas such as co-production of knowledge and interdisciplinary work are now prominent in academic research and teaching and policy pronouncements in the field of international development. What is less clear is how these complex ideas are conceptualised, operationalised and communicated.

WML will develop strategies of researching and learning alongside our partners in ways that are easily communicable and interdisciplinary.

The value in critical pedagogy

Critical pedagogy builds on the work of education theorists who critiqued and fundamentally challenged the imposed forms of teaching and learning under colonial regimes of violence. Critical pedagogies challenge rigid ‘teacher’ ‘learner’ distinctions and foster joint exploration and knowledge generation.

Importantly, critical pedagogies also encourage us all to interrogate the contexts in which we teach, learn and collaborate to produce knowledge and thus to be self-reflective in our work practices.

Critical pedagogy looks for alternative ways of seeing and understanding the development work, its structures of injustice and the politics of knowledge within.

Our approach

The Lab helps to develop interdisciplinary work by going beyond using one or other methodology; rather we will attempt to integrate different approaches. Evidence, data analysis and affective and effective arguments all come together to shift ground. The choice of methods, we believe, needs to be based on pragmatic considerations; methodological considerations shouldn’t trump the nature of our inquiry.

Concept building is an important area of work for WICID – we support the construction of concepts and their critical evaluation. We pay attention to the relation between concepts and measures, as well as the relationship between concepts and case studies and the trade-off between validity and operationalization.

More and more data is now available. However, there are specific gaps. WICID will address how to manage and access this data, how to find the relevant information and techniques that are the most relevant to address specific questions. It will also address the issue of data gaps – why these gaps not others? What does this tell us about the inequalities we are enmeshed in but often do not recognise.

WICID also supports the development of not only new, more innovative indicators but more accurate and tailored ones for assessing development problems. In order to do this, we need to think about scale, mapping and sampling – all-important to understand how the complex issues around us might be translated into specific measures that could help us address practical development problems.

WICID researchers communicate their research design, their methodologies and their findings to each other and to a wider audience of members, policy-makers, and other researchers in clear, straightforward and transparent ways. Without such communication, new ways of seeing are not possible; we need to get out of boxes of specialisms and address the urgent development problems in the most creative, honest and methodologically innovative ways.

Critical pedagogy and methodological innovation need honesty that can bring researchers together, educate policy-makers and the general public and generate new questions for research. The Lab does exactly this – in collaborative, rigorous and innovative ways.

Some reading:

  • Uprichard, Emma, Compound methods in Celia Lury, Handbook