Operational Research for Humanitarians

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  • Why conduct research in humanitarian settings
    • In this first module, we will dive right into the question of why there is a need for research in humanitarian settings. We will explore the difficult decision-making processes in humanitarian settings and how a good decision relies on four different types of inputs. The starting point will be the concept of evidence and how it connects to human biases and professional judgement. By hearing from global experts, implementing practitioners and your fellow learners we will critically explore the value of research by asking why, when and for whom?
  • Research questions and study designs
    • In this second module, we will gain a foundational understanding and skills around research and its processes, methods, and core terminology. We also explore ways of answering the key question of "What evidence is good enough?". This will help us to gain the skills to examine common study designs and identify each of their strengths and weaknesses. With this foundation, we will then - in the next module - explore how the concept of quality becomes a little more blurred when implementing research in humanitarian settings.
  • Conducting research in humanitarian settings
    • In this module, you will gain a solid understanding of how the key characteristics of humanitarian settings are affecting how we can (or cannot) apply the study designs that we covered in module two. We will explore how, to overcome these common challenges, we need to adapt and combine our study designs and tools. At the end of this module, you will be equipped with a slightly different research toolbox, one that is more appropriate to be used in humanitarian settings. Throughout this module's journey, we will be heavily guided by practical examples and existing projects.
  • Ethics and community engagement
    • The fourth module will delve into one of the most critical aspects of good research practice: Ethics. Having explored the potential benefits of research in humanitarian settings earlier, we will focus here on the potential risks and ethical dilemmas when conducting research. We will start with reviewing some infamous historical examples of unethical research, like the Tuskegee study. Together, we will then establish good practices of how we can systematically and genuinely integrate ethical considerations and risk mitigation into our research projects. As part of that, we will specifically look into community engagement as one of the many powerful tools that we have. This module will also help you understand many of the core research ethics processes, such as informed consent and ethical review boards.
  • Translating knowledge into action
    • With this final module, we will connect all our insights and learnings by returning to our initial questions on the value of research in humanitarian settings. This time, we will focus on the “how”, by seeing how we can ensure that our research is valuable and how to translate the evidence that we have generated into actionable recommendations. We will explore common pitfalls of sharing evidence and learn about approaches and tools that have proven themselves useful over time. Beyond learning a step-by-step process, we will learn to appreciate the importance of contextual approaches that take existing power dynamics into account.