Research Methods Summer School 2017

The annual DSAI Research Methods Summer School took place in Trinity College Dublin on the 27th-28th June 2017. 

Summary Report

Dr. Gerard McCann, of DSA Ireland, opened the Summer School, framed in terms of the research methods presentations of the coming days and the overarching concepts of evaluation, accountability and results frameworks. He also shared a personal reflection on cross-cutting issues in the development sector in the Global North and Global South.

 “Developing and Implementing a Theory of Change” by Ana Stiglic, of the Norwegian Refugee Council, covered a top down Theory of Change, which utilizes long term goals and statistical indicators as a vital tool for implementing humanitarian aid. She articulated the value of a Theory of Change in serving target communities by its living nature and its usefulness for accountability, evaluation, and the conceptualisation of complex projects. A discussion of practicality and communicability concluded the presentation. 

 “Strengthening Ethical Practice in Development and Humanitarian Research” by researchers Dr. Maja Haals Bronson and Dr. Mairead Finn began by delineating the concept of ethics in the non-profit and academic fields. To structure the discussion, Dr. Finn discussed the difference between ethical codes and ethical guidelines, as well as the principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence. She underscored the varying responsibilities and relationships through the research process, challenging participants to take conscientious steps to safeguard those involved at all levels. To provide a case study of ethics in action, Dr. Bronson detailed her work in north-western Rwanda and how she was able to appropriately interact with and protect families. She found ethical practices to be vital for anyone interested in doing research, especially in politically charged contexts.

Read the Summary Report


  • Choosing the right quantitative evaluation design, Ana Stiglic, Middle East Monitoring & Evaluation Manager Norwegian Refugee Council

  • Choosing the Right Statistical Test, Margaryta Klymak, PhD, Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin

  • Doing better focus groups: A How-To guide, Dr. Paula Mayock, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work and Social Policy, and Director, Masters in Applied Social Research, Trinity College Dublin

  • Developing, Implementing Theory of Change: One NGO experience, Ana Stiglic, Middle East Monitoring & Evaluation Manager Norwegian Refugee Council

  • Researching with Marginalised Communities: Focus on Children, Sinéad Matson, PhD Candidate, Maynooth University

  • Getting Quality Data from Interviewing, Paula Mayock, PhD Trinity College Dublin

  • Strengthening Ethical Practice in Development and Humanitarian Research, Dr. Mairéad Finn, DSAI and Maja Haals Londorf, Children’s Research Network

  • Doing Research in Post-War Settings, Dr. Walt Kilroy, Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction, DCU

  • Data Collection and Data Driven Decision Making in Fragile Contexts, Alex Tran, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning Advisor at GOAL Global


"The Summer School was by all means a well prepared seminar and it had great, interesting and relevant speakers. I attended the two days and I found it really helped me in getting a clearer view of how much progress there has been in terms of research methods in development research and how much work there is still to be done. It was very inspiring for me to be able to listen to such dedicated people who care so much and who are pushing for new ways of improving. I think one really special characteristic of the seminar for me was how accessible and inclusive it was: even though my area of research might at first seem not directly connected, I was well able to engage and learn, and I was able to understand how crucially connected the seminar and its topics were to my own work. I have already recommended it and will continue to do so, thank you very much" 
Leia Montenegro, Research Assistant & NEAT MATERIALS Admin Support, Trinity College Dublin
"As a participant and presenter, this year’s DSAI summer school programme helped me both explore and challenge my thinking on items which are building blocks of my work as a humanitarian practitioner. I found the sessions practical and immediately useful covering a range of aspects within project cycle management: from TOC design and results measurement, learning about new qualitative methods or improved implementation of ‘old’ ones, to research methods and statistical models that would be useful to synthesize data into meaningful form. Having academics, practitioners, donors in the same room added great depth to the discussions. I encourage DSAI to seek more joint presentations (donor and implementer for example, providing a multi-faceted view) and to get even more practical with its course content. I look forward to participating again!"
Ana Stiglic, Middle East Monitoring & Evaluation Manager Norwegian Refugee Council

Participant Evaluation

The Summer School overall was rated as 'excellent' by participants with an average of 4.2/5.