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Accepted Paper:

‘Going remote?’: the importance of relational networks in using remote methodologies in Uganda  
Roeland Hemsteede (University of Dundee) Lorraine van Blerk (University of Dundee) Evelyn Avalos (University of Dundee)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the importance of relational networks for successfully ‘going remote’ across two different qualitative research projects in Uganda. It discusses how the researchers leverage existing relations in order to continue research with diverse groups of participants.

Paper long abstract:

Social relations underpin qualitative research, yet COVID-19 disrupted existing research relations while also making establishing new ones more difficult. This paper draws on two separate qualitative research projects in Uganda that use remote methodologies to either continue or initiate data collection. Both projects revolve around human geography/international development but differ in scale. The first is a PhD project focused on the lived experiences and emotional impacts of forced displacement on aged refugees. The second project seeks to combat trafficking in persons and is a multi-partner project involving academic, non-governmental, and private sector partners from the United Kingdom and Uganda.

In the first project, the researcher had established relationships with a group of refugees while interviewing them personally before COVID-19 restricted face-to-face research. The researcher then successfully built on these existing relationships and interviewed the same refugees a second time remotely whereas interviewing ‘new’ respondents proved difficult. In the second project, existing connections from partner organisations in Uganda provided the UK-based researcher with a network and credibility that made it possible to conduct remote interviews. Without this relational network, access to respondents would have been hard, if not impossible, to achieve.

This paper therefore argues that for remote methodologies to be successful, it is essential to establish and utilise relational networks. It demonstrates that remote methodologies can be used across different contexts and research scales, but that different approaches to establishing these networks are essential.

Panel P07b
How can remote research methods contribute to field research in the developing world? Producing development knowledge from a distance II
  Session 1 Thursday 1 July, 2021, -