I have an interdisciplinary background spanning international development, science and technology studies and education and communication studies (semiotics). My research is grounded in the field of ‘research on research’ and focuses specifically on the politics of research/evidence/knowledge production, communication, governance and use. I am interested in questions such as: how is knowledge production framed by research funders and policy makers? Who participates in knowledge processes and how? Whose expertise and experience counts? How do different research cultures/structures/methods/texts/technologies/identities influence research processes/systems and the accessibility/relevance of evidence? How are different kinds of evidence valued by different institutions? I am particularly interested in the global political economy of knowledge for international development, 'global challenge research' and research funded through Oversees Development Assistance (ODA) and I am co-convener of the Rethinking Research Collaborative (https://rethinkingresearchcollaborative.com) - an informal international network of academics, civil society organisations, international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and research support providers – who are committed to working together to encourage more inclusive, responsive collaborations to produce useful, equitable (and increasingly ecological) global development research. I am also interested in arts-based research methods (particularly poetry and science fiction).
2018-2022: I am leading the research and learning strand of a DFID/ UK AID Connect-funded project on civil society effectiveness (led by Christian Aid): 'Evidence and Collaboration for Inclusive Development in Myanmar, Nigeria and Zimbabwe'.
I also have some seed-funding from the OU to pilot a collaborative approach to research capacity strengthening through the Rethinking Research Collaborative.
Previous research (as Principle Investigator):
2018: Understanding and improving fair and equitable research partnerships around global challenges: A partners' perspective (UKRI/GCRF-commissioned programme of strategic research and capacity strengthening with Co-Investigators from Christian Aid, INTRAC, Praxis Institute of Participatory Practices and the UNESCO Chair programme in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education)
2015-2017: Evidence and the politics of participation in academic-INGO research partnerships for international development' (a two-year ESRC Seminar Series in partnership with Christian Aid, Action Aid, HIV/AIDS Alliance, OU, IOE, IDS and LSE) See project website: https://rethinkingresearchpartnerships.com and the Discussion Guide and Toolkit: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/2017-10/discussion-guide-ngo-academic-research-oct2017_0.pdf
2014-2018: Engaging research for practice: A civil society perspective (a fout-year study funded by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship which explores NGO practitioner's engagement with research).
2013-2014: I implemented a study on 'academic identity in the digital university' funded by an award from the Society of Research into Higher Education (SRHE): http://www.srhe.ac.uk/research/newer_researchers_reports.asp
2007-2011: My PhD explored the politics of representation in academic and community-based research in/on/with/by a migrant community in London.
Additional research experience includes studies on adult literacy in South Africa, Tanzania, Viet Nam, Thailand and Mexico (in collaboration with Kings College London, University of East Anglia, the Departamento de Investigaciones Educativas in Mexico City, BALID, Literacy Working Group, UNESCO and ActionAid International); participatory learning and teaching in higher education (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex); and the use of video in social science research (Institute of Education, London Knowledge Lab). I have also worked for several years in a policy context as a research officer for UNESCO and the OECD in Paris.
I am a special adviser in adult literacy for UNESCO and continue to conduct consultancies (on adult literacy, nonformal education and evaluation) for a variety of international organisations
Awards and research funding (as PI)
DFID UK Aid Connect, Civil Society Effectiveness call (2018-22)
UKRI/GCRF Strategic Research (2018)
ESRC Seminar Series (2015-17)
Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2014-17)
IOE-UCL Ideas Incubator Award (2014)
SRHE Newer Researchers Award (2013-14)
HEIF Innovation Grant (Next Generation Researcher’s Award) 2012-13
ESRC 1+3 Doctoral Studentship (2006-10)
ESRC- sponsored PhD in Education (2011) Institute of Education, University of London – passed with no corrections
ESRC-sponsored MRes in Social Research (2006) Institute of Education - awarded with distinction
MPhil in Development Studies (2003) Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex - awarded with distinction
BA (1st class hons.) in English and Related Literature (2001) University of York
I am open to supervising doctoral students working in the following areas:
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||01/Jan/2015||31/Aug/2017||ESRC Economic and Social Research Council|
This seminar series arises responsively from concern expressed by both practitioners and academics to improve research partnerships between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and international NGOs in the field of international development. While a recent drive towards research collaboration has fuelled many new initiatives to broker partnerships, a wave of studies have suggested that the effectiveness of partnerships is often limited by constraints to participation (e.g. Aniekwe et al 2012; ELRHA 2012; Hanley and Vogel 2012). These studies have been largely descriptive, focusing on the instrumental nature of partnerships but with little analytical attention to the mechanics of participation or to the implications for the kind of evidence that is valued in and produced through partnerships. In response, this series brings together interrelated strands of research on 'participation in knowledge production' and the 'politics of evidence'. The seminars will explore the intersection between these two strands by drawing together research from different disciplines and sectors on how participation and notions of evidence are negotiated in research partnerships. First, context-setting workshop will frame the core seminars by providing a series of analytical frameworks for understanding partnerships. Second, a core series of four seminars structured around case studies of research partnerships (each co-presented by an academic and practitioner) will be used to create a safe space to facilitate trust and enable critical reflection of experiences in partnerships. Third, the outcomes of the core seminars will be presented at a high-level conference which will also incorporate insights and perspectives from a range of UK-based and international contributors. By drawing together as co-researchers practitioners, academics and research students (who often occupy both roles simultaneously) the seminar series aims to democratise the status of both academics and practitioners as co-researchers. The series will result in the development of publications and resources to inform a new research agenda and improve practice in research partnerships.