Building inclusive research practices
The project in brief
"The Guidelines for Co-produced Research with Refugees and Other People with Lived Experience of Displacement provide crucial and clear information on the principles and strategies for how to ethically and meaningfully include refugees and forcibly displaced people in research processes. Co-produced research is of paramount importance in fostering more equitable and effective research that can inform policy and help address the myriad of challenges faced by forcibly displaced people, globally."
- Rêz Gardî, Co-Managing Director, R-SEAT (Refugees Seeking Equal Access at the Table)
The project was implemented by Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) and Act for Peace. It began in November 2022 and is ended in May 2023.
This project collaboratively developed research guidelines for individuals and organisations interested in undertaking, supporting or learning more about research that is co-produced with refugees and other people with lived experience of displacement.
The guidelines are designed for stakeholders with an interest in co-produced research, such as universities, governments, donors, ethics review committees, NGOs, intergovernmental organisations and community groups that may be involved in or impacted by the research.
These Guidelines aim to provide clear principles and strategies for individuals and organisations interested in co-produced research with refugees and other displaced people. Co-produced research generally refers to research where researchers and those impacted by the research findings work in partnership as co-creators of knowledge. This partnership usually involves a commitment among researchers (including both those with and without lived experience of the topic) to share responsibility and decision-making power from the start to the end of the project. It is also usually action-oriented and focused on generating knowledge to inform social change.
There are multiple aims of co-produced research. By including researchers with lived experience of displacement, co-produced research can lead to new ways of understanding and contribute to more democratic and inclusive forms of research production. Co-produced research also has an increased potential for real-world impact due to its commitment to deep engagement with affected communities, its common focus on social change and its perceived legitimacy among stakeholders. Lastly, co-produced research can lead to the development and enhancement of diverse skills for the researchers involved through practical experience and peer-to-peer training within the research group.
Main activities of the Good Practice
These Guidelines are designed as an ongoing resource to facilitate co-produced research with refugees and other people with lived experience of displacement. The Guidelines outline some of the key benefits, principles and issues that arise when undertaking co-produced research. They also include training exercises for individuals and organisations looking to consider these principles and issues in greater detail.
Since their publication in English in May 2023, the Guidelines have been translated into Arabic, French and Spanish. They have also been deployed in several research projects in the field and have been showcased in university and civil society settings, including the 2023 UNHCR Regional Consultations with NGOs.
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
These Guidelines were developed following a thorough review of current evidence on co-produced research, along with extensive consultations with a variety of stakeholders over a period of six months. These consultations included several refugee representatives, refugee-led networks, academic institutions, NGOs, intergovernmental organisations, and researchers with expertise in co-produced research.
When creating these Guidelines, it was important that they would be jointly owned by a range of different stakeholders and that they would go beyond the university setting in terms of their practical application. As such, a central element of these Guidelines is that they have been developed with the active inclusion and endorsement of organisations and networks led by refugees and other people with lived experience of displacement.
This project has involved a wide range of stakeholders, including:
- Act for Peace
- Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW Sydney
- Asia Pacific Network of Refugees
- UNHCR’s Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network (GAIN)
- Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN)
- Refugee-Led Research Hub (RLRH)
- Global Refugee-Led Network (GRN)
- Hub for Education for Refugees in Europe (HERE)
- Amera International
- University of Essex
- Refugee Communities Advisory Network (RCAN)
- International Detention Coalition (IDC)
- Mixed Migration Centre
- Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN)
- University of Auckland – Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies
- Refugee Council of Australia
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
A key challenge in delivering this project was ensuring an inclusive design process that would enable co-ownership of the Guidelines, a diversity of insights and greater potential for practical implementation. From the outset, it was important that this project was sensitive to, and inclusive of, age, gender and diversity considerations.
How they were overcome
This project implemented an inclusive design process through a variety of approaches.
First, there was a conscious effort to go beyond the university setting and involve a diversity of individuals and organisations with an interest in research related to refugees. This included prominent refugee-led networks, refugee-led research institutions and others. To enable broad engagement, we offered financial remuneration to individuals with significant expertise on co-produced research who were not in full-time employment and would not have been remunerated for this participation through another means. This helped to ensure that the evidence base for the Guidelines was not overwhelmingly drawn from academic sources.
Second, the project implemented a multi-phase consultation process which included opportunities for considered reflection on drafts, in-person and virtual participation and the opportunity for endorsement of the final draft. Throughout the process, we wanted to ensure that all participants felt heard and that their inputs into the draft were meaningfully considered. We prepared two publicly available consultation reports which captured the insights and views of all participants. We also published a consultation information sheet acknowledging the contributions of individual participants and outlining how these contributions informed the final draft.
Lastly, there was a deliberate effort to make the resource available in languages other than English. We engaged a refugee-led translation provider to professionally translate the Guidelines into Arabic, French and Spanish. These translations were reviewed prior to publication to take into consideration some of the age, gender and diversity issues that can arise in the translation of documents.
Results of the Good Practice
Much research in the field of refugee and forced migration studies seeks to meet the ‘dual imperative’ of being both academically rigorous and policy-relevant. Co-produced research with displaced people can:
- Lead to new ways of understanding
- Contribute to more democratic and inclusive research production
- Offer guidance to local communities about needs and issues central to their lives
- Support evidence-based advocacy and recommendations to governments and other stakeholders about the need for policy or institutional reform which can improve refugees’ lives
- Enhance skills and knowledge by catalysing collaboration with diverse stakeholders, and
- Lead to prolonged engagement and new multi-stakeholder funding opportunities.
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
These guidelines for co-produced research with refugees and other people with lived experience of displacement have the potential to influence research production across all four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees. Increased support to researchers with lived experience of displacement also has the direct potential to enhance refugee self-reliance and prosper refugee-led research.
It is promising to observe the increased interest in co-produced research with refugees and other displaced people from a range of stakeholders. Many of the organisations involved in the production of the Guidelines are committed to pursuing co-produced research further. Additionally, the Guidelines themselves are designed as an open-access resource available to all individuals and organisations in this form of research production.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
It would be beneficial to see further financial support and investment directed towards building more inclusive research practices in the field of refugee and forced migration studies.