Project: Innovative Methodologies and Methodological Innovation


As part of the Hub’s ongoing project ‘Innovative Methodologies and Methodological Innovations’, within the Methodological Innovation stream, we surveyed the members of the Hub between March and June 2023. This was the second of two surveys; the first was conducted in mid-2020, with the results published as a report and a blog post in October 2020.

Similar to the first iteration of the survey, we wanted to understand the kinds of methods being used across the Hub, including the kinds of data being collected; how the Hub members conceived of research innovation; and how their research might be employing innovative research methods. We also wanted to understand how members’ thinking and/or practice on research methods may have changed since 2020. Specifically, we were interested in if and how the unforeseen challenges of the last three years – including COVID-19, the UK government’s cuts to the Official Development Assistance (which funds the Hub), and deteriorating security contexts, particularly in Afghanistan – had an impact on the types of research methods Hub members were employing, as well as the extent to which being a part of and involved in the Hub had an impact on members’ methodological thinking and/or practice.

Key Findings

  • Many of the projects are using more than one method or are using mixed methods. Also, some projects are using both interdisciplinary or innovative creative methods and traditional approaches to collect a variety of data.
  • Overwhelmingly the Hub researchers that we surveyed felt that innovation in research methods related to conducting research in a context-specific considerate way or using creative research practices in a challenging environment.
  • Many respondents answered ‘Yes’ to the question of whether their thinking about research methodologies had changed since they started working with the Hub. Particularly, researchers found the value and difficulties of practising feminist research ethics during the crisis context of the pandemic and challenging field environments.
  • However, some researchers pointed out that there were limited changes in interdisciplinary and innovative methodology given that fundamental conversations on epistemology and methodology had not taken place.
  • Many respondents answered that they had become more aware of safeguarding strategies, feminist ethics, and fostering collaborative endeavours of research in conflict settings as a result of working with the Hub.
  • Most of the Hub’s projects have been impacted by the pandemic. Many researchers had to redesign their research methodology, switch research methods from in-person to online, and, in some cases, address new confidentiality concerns due to the changes in methodology.
  • ODA funding cuts impacted research methodology and methods in many ways. For instance, it limited the use of technology in making video installations; delayed the digitalisation process; and restricted the research sample and reduced collaboration between researchers and NGOs and policymakers.
  • Deteriorating security contexts and circumstances of partner countries in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka: Some researchers had to completely give up some research activities or redesign their research methodology given the fall of Kabul and the political crisis in Sri Lanka. In some cases, due to the takeover of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the government and ministries that the research aimed to reach were dissolved overnight, meaning that the research had to be entirely redesigned.