In the last couple of weeks we have been slowly edging towards finishing our work for CARE. Currently it would seem that some 80% of our first draft has been already written and our intention is to send the first draft to CARE in the last week of April, which is just as well, since that should give them around a month to come back to us with some feedback before we put the finishing touches on the final version of our work. A general sense of satisfaction is felt within the team with much of the work having been already behind us and we will be now anticipating the feedback for CARE in order to make the necessary adjustments. Last comes the presentation that should take place preferably in the first half of June; though that will also depend on the availability of the people at CARE who might happen to be on a field trip around that time.
Indeed, we can be satisfied with the fact that we have roughly stuck to the deadlines that we set out for ourselves in January, as this has left us more than enough time to put everything together and make any changes to the project as it enters its final phase. Since so far we have mainly done individual work on our respective domains, it is clear that we will be doing some editing to the final document in order to give our work a more unified look. Moreover, we are also happy to give our coordinators at CARE enough time to give us feedback – in the end, the document will be of sizeable proportions (over 100 pages) and we are keen to iron out any inconsistencies that may have occurred during the writing. Also it should be noted that we are hoping to see a more consistent feedback from CARE that would clarify some of their previous feedback which has been probably given out without internal coordination on the part of CARE. As mentioned previously, however, there is luckily enough time to do all of this and more thanks to our good and timely work up to now which has really picked up once we have gotten a better understanding of what CARE is looking to get out of this collaboration.
Thus we are looking forward to holding the presentation in June; hopefully it will be a nice occasion to reflect back on all the work we have done and all the meetings we have had to get to the final result. Similarly, we also hope that the presentation will provide a fine conclusion from the perspective of CARE but judging by our communication up to this point, we are fairly confident that the work will be to their liking.
Complementary to Monika’s blog we, the CARE team members, have become friends. Weekly meetings consist of Sushi lunches, Mediterrean dinners and beer evenings (check out Oblomov: special beer, only three euros from 21.00 until 23.00). These gatherings not only fruitfully contribute to our teamwork, it is a convenient way to explore the city’s beauties and hidden places. Since we are all internationals (I consider myself as an international, since I moved from Amsterdam to Groningen, which is quite a big step, haha) we’re all curious to find new spots and enjoy the cities lovely atmosphere.
Besides our food addiction we’re making good progress in the research project. As Monika already mentioned, we divided the team in three groups, which works out quite well. With lots of energy and enthusiasm we started the projected after a fruitful and very welcome meeting in The Hague. I must admit that evaluating and rewriting researches by CARE, is not a hard job to do and it does not challenge us to give critical notes and perspectives on their progress, strategies and outcomes. Thus, the research is not exactly what I expected in the beginning. Luckily, with such a motivated group it is easy to catch up and stay focused. Furthermore I want to stress the flexible and cooperative collaboration with the Office Director and our supervisors of CARE. Aga and I scheduled a meeting in Utrecht with Wouter, our supervisor, in one week. He suggested a face-to-face meeting and was willing to meet in Utrecht, which is convenient for all of us. Moreover I think that ‘live’ meetings are more effective and more fun to do, than skype meetings. Meanwhile we stay in touch via email, to exchange documents, proposals and to give feedback.
Besides the knowledge and capabilities that we gain from doing – mainly – quantitative research, working together with CARE, gives us a nice insight of how (big) NGOs work in the sense of projects, scale of operations and collaboration with partners. With regard to our career/future, it is crucial to get to know the companies and institutions that you might work for in the future.
In the past two weeks we participated in two workshops, arranged by our lovely IRSP supervisor Tessa Wapstra, who’s always willing to help and to join us for dinner and drinks. One was focusing on research methods, specifically on indicators; What is an indicator? What is its aim? What types of indicators do exist? How to apply those indicators into our track records? It was a general, though contributing presentation to our understanding of doing research. The second one, held by a professor teaching English, focused on academic writing. The hardest part of doing research with four different group members, with different writing styles and skills, is writing a coherent and precise research report. During the workshop we became familiar with different styles of academic writings, do’s and don’ts, and a critical feedback (in the form of exercises) on our writings so far. Also the professor signed us in on Nestor, where we can find useful and extensive documents with tips and tricks.
Overall, I think we are doing a great job and are all willing to carry out this project successfully, through sharing food (Aga, thanks for the Baklava), knowledge and experiences. Sharing is Caring!
Doing research for CARE Nederland has been exceptionally gratifying and interesting so far. We kicked off the research with the first visit to CARE’s office at the beginning of January. We were given a warm welcome with a cup of coffee and a tour of their office. CARE was genuinely interested in what motivated us to do research for them and what our vision is for this project.
As researchers, we were especially interested in what kind of work they do and how our project fits in into their everyday activities. Meeting up with their project managers was particularly useful for aligning our expectations and establishing a smooth personal communication. I was thrilled with how our first meeting went and I was already looking forward to the next one.
In a few weeks, we came back to The Hague with some tangible results. We presented our research timeline and, having already done some research into CARE, aimed to clarify any confusion we had about the project.
After the first meeting, we were not sure how to approach the research but the second meeting clarified everything and we started seeing the way through all the data available. Right now the team is on a clear pathway towards setting up indicators that could be used to measure change in three domains of change that, if successful, lead to resilience – sustainable livelihoods, good governance, and social justice.
Apart from these meetings with CARE, the team met a few times and started with the research plan. We decided to split up the work by domains of change – so, I will work on social justice, Michal on good governance, while Sannah and Agha will work on sustainable livelihoods which is the biggest domain that CARE works in.
So far, we have been working separately with the project data in each individual domain. However, the best part is coming together and discussing what we found out so far, what are the obstacles, and how we can solve them together. This brings the whole team together and streamlines our individual work towards the combined end-result.
Within the team, we broke the ice and we are already friends! We schedule not only formal meetings but also social activities. Our long hours on the train to The Hague revealed that we all love food so, from now on, I bet that most of our gatherings will be food related. After all, there has to be a balance between work and play in life.
Monika and Sannah working on their research in last week's Research Weekend