DEEM Research Centre Launch

DEEMLaunchWorkshop: The challenges of doing research in development

5th of September 2013

The DEEM Research Centre was officially launched on 5 September 2013 with a workshop on the challenges of doing research in development, introduced by Professor Stephen Mithen, Pro-VC for Internalisation at the University of Reading.

The workshop brought together speakers from a range of disciplines including economics, politics and geography and covered challenges to both qualitative and quantitative research in development. It began with 3 keynote papers on labour markets by Professors Nauro Campos (Brunel and DfID), Hartmut Lehmann (Bologna and IZA) and Jackie Wahba (Southampton). The papers dealt with current issues in labour market research - the role of regulation, informal employment and migration. Not unexpectedly, the major challenges identified related to gathering appropriate data to test the hypothesis as well as issues in relation to measurement, highlighted by both Campos and Lehman.

In the closing session, Professor Dominik Zaum (Reading, Politics and International Relations) argued that the reliability and reproducibility of the data that was collected added further to the problems of such research. In addition, Wahba, Dr Zahra Siddique (Reading, Economics) and Tom Wingfield (DfID) identified the issues of selection and endogeneity. This was stated quite succinctly by Wingfield, when he argued that 'Quantitative research is "especially frustrating" - many factors highly correlated with one another, makes it "nearly impossible to determine causality". Wingfield also highlighted DfID's focus on evidence in research contracting as well as policy analysis and formation.

Dominic Zaum in a talk entitled 'Talking with Warlords: the challenges of doing research in conflict-affected countries' discussed the ethical challenges of doing development research as well as challenges of access and security. Dr Emily Boyd (Reading, Geography and Environmental Science) argued, in the context of discussing the resilience and vulnerability of climate change, that it was necessary to have a clear understanding of these concepts and also the methodologies for studying these concepts. In particular, we need to understand the temporal scale of the impacts as also to develop a collective understanding of the problem.

Click here to see the full workshop program

Click here to view the workshop presentation




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Contact Us

DEEM Centre Director:

Prof Uma Kambhampati

School of Economics

University of Reading


PO Box 218

Reading RG6 6AA.



+44 (0) 118 378 5248

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