The research component of ACCESS has stopped following termination of funding. See here for more information.

Research Approach

Image of 4 foxes putting together puzzle pieces of a house
We are making a commitment to try to do things differently. It begins with the way we’ve structured the partnership itself.

Research partnerships within humanitarian and international development projects are often typified by hierarchies of power and privilege.  Funders and global north research institutions often exploit “local”, country-based research teams, but without sufficient recognition of the inherent strengths, knowledge, and value these individuals bring to the research endeavour. These “partners” often have limited say in shaping the research agenda or influencing how and to what ends the research is carried out. Often they are invisible in the outputs resulting from such research.   

In ACCESS, we are making a commitment to try to do things differently. It begins with the way we’ve structured the partnership itself.  The project was developed collaboratively between a group of INGOs, UN agencies, and donors who comprise the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG), and a small team of researchers at the University of Auckland.   The collaboration would not have been possible if had not been for a commitment on all sides to genuine learning, engagement, and reflection—something which was also made possible because of a history of working together effectively in the past.  A task team from the AEWG is involved in all stages of the research process and will provide their expert advice and feedback to the research team.  Importantly, they also lead some of the important engagement, dissemination and advocacy work which accompanies the research itself.   

There is also mutual interest between UoA and the AEWG to ensure the research is carried out with the full engagement and involvement of national education stakeholders, including researchers based in country with deep knowledge of both what is feasible and possible in seeking change for out of school children and youth. An astuteness to the political, social, and economic context in which they live and work, as well as their capacity to think critically about the dynamics of power which pervade educational decision-making at a local level, is an important asset to this research endeavour.   In this research project, national education stakeholders are not just “key informants” or objects of inquiry, but rather partners in seeking change.  As we move into the second phase of the research, we will work with them to create a platform where we can reflect on the quality, relevance, content and delivery of learning opportunities for OOSCY, and jointly advocate for change.   

There are seven principles which guide our approach to the co-production of knowledge in this project, as depicted in this visual:

Principles of Co-Production, The Seven Key
Wake, C. and Lokot, M. (2021). Co-production: an opportunity to rethink research partnerships. Humanitarian Practice Network.
  1. Emphasise reciprocity: We are committed to exchanging our time, knowledge, and participation across all stages of the research process, and ensuring it serves a mutual benefit to all involved.


2. Promote mutual capacity strengthening: We value the diverse knowledge, skills, experiences, and views everyone brings to the research partnership, and stand committed to learning from each other 


3. Ensuring greater reflexivity: We consider how our positionality and perspectives shape the research process. 


4. Enabling flexible ways of interacting and working: We accept that the end point of our research is not immediately clear, and create sufficient time and flexibility in our research approach to constantly shift course as we learn more.

5. Tackling unequal power dynamics: We are explicit in naming and discussing traditional power hierarchies within the research team, and then seeking to redress this.

6. Challenging knowledge production hierarchies: We will seek to incorporate diverse voices into all stages of the research cycle, and rebalance the weight of those whose voices are typically featured in the publications that result. 

7. Ensuring more equitable partnership and shared decision-making: We will involve all stakeholders in identifying how the end products of this research will serve the interests of all involved and what form this best takes. 

Throughout our research journey, we’ll be regularly sharing our experiences of working towards these principles in our partnership, and stand committed to be open and transparent about our successes as well as challenges. 

The University of Auckland logo on left in white over dark blue box. To the right: Education and Social Work written in green over Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies written in blue
AEWG logo