“Professor I want to know…”: Reflections on working with a local supervisor for conducting fieldwork in Rwanda

My local supervisor was no longer just a part of the ethical or formal procedures. In cross-cultural research, many have shared stories including dilemmas in valuing diverse knowledge systems, respecting different concepts on punctuality, locating “private” space in a communal culture, and ensuring voluntariness in participation. The contextualized advice given by a local expert was thus pacifying. It was invaluable in revealing the cultural norms, which were often misinterpreted by outsiders socialized in western research conventions.

Read More

What Ensures Good Quality Research Data?

Not many people get an opportunity to be a part of an organization even after leaving it. I’ve been one of those lucky ones, remaining connected to the ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham Education Foundation in India, for whom I have worked for more than 3 years. When I got the opportunity to pursue a PhD at the University of Cambridge, I was delighted to learn that the REAL Centre at the Faculty of Education would be working closely with the ASER Centre on a grassroots intervention to increase accountability in education in rural India.

Read More

Is Anonymity Always Desirable? Reflections on Ethics in Cross-Cultural Research

Before embarking on my fieldwork, I felt that I understood the importance of researchers needing to carefully consider the place in which they will carry out their research, and their own positionality, so that the needs of their participants can be taken into account; however, in spite of having conducted research in Bihar, India previously, there were a number of ethical issues that arose, which I did not anticipate.

Read More

My PhD Journey in 8 Pictures

I am Lina and I like pictures. If asked to introduce myself to a group of academics, I would say: “I am Lina and for my PhD thesis I explored how children engage with wordless picture books.” Given my love for visual stories and my PhD topic, I hereby succumb to a temptation I always had in mind: to summarise my entire PhD life in 8 pictures. A complete thesis for the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge is equivalent to approximately 80000 words. Based on the famous saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, for the sake of this blog post, let’s equip images with even more power and try to visualise a four-year PhD experience.

Read More