AO: This excerpt from the report corroborates other stories about research participants feeling used and exploited by research and appears to be more acutely felt in places where multiple research projects take place by different groups in the same geographic and topical area and yet no changes are observed or experienced by residents. The sentiments documented in this report also were expressed in this focus group discussion.
Page 6 - 7: "...if the same people are interviewed over and over again, while not seeing any benefits of their research participation, people stop seeing the use of research altogether. The same academic told us a similar experience: ‘so someone will tell you, ‘you are the 50th person interviewing me, what are you going to do differently?’ [...] So it’s like they’re being used and they are not getting anything out of it’ (Interview 4 June 2019). This eventually leads to a sensation of research fatigue among participants, which tends to appear after long-term or repeated participation in research projects, especially where there are no perceived changes as a result or when changed cannot easily be linked back to the participation in the research (Clark 2008; Mwambari 2019). Eventually research participants might even end up feeling disempowered and instrumentalised by researchers, therefore producing the opposite effect of the social change that is aimed for. An independent researcher we interviewed expressed the effect of this research fatigue, which impacts the participants, but eventually also the capacity for researchers to undertake research:
Right now in the slums when you just say the word research no-one listens to you, she told me... People are tired because they get asked questions but they don’t get any feedback. [...] One of the people asked me why didn’t you sit with us and even develop this research with us and even ask us is sexual violence the issue? (Interview 13 June 2019)."
TM: In Panel 2 this stood out visibly in that researchers could feel that they tend to feel invisible, unrecognized as they deal with data, give their best only to be left in the cold which is a death blow to morale when you are just referred to as an African researcher. The counter argument came in Panel 3 where matters invisibility in data came out when researchers like those working with IDRC when funded seldom consider the fact that the data they collect belongs to IDRC, which is a trend that recommended to other institutions to handle copyright issues. This data retention and copyright balance between the researcher and donor organization tips the scale against over-research as data is already had how they share and make the data accessible is another question altogether.
PC: One take: “in digital spaces, you can be very invisible… an anonymous African researcher.” In this sense, greater connection flattens key aspects of one’s identity while boosting other aspects (e.g. one’s university affiliation might become more important)... As a result, some kinds of (elite) identification may become elevated in importance while marginalizing others.
AO: some topics heavily researched but some other areas under worked on; connections not made (such as the networks and people that connected today).
AO: Rayzberg's article described conversations with research participants which highlighted perceptions that research and development were the same thing or that “research brings development.” One person explained that after the researchers “collect the data, they send it to development, and then development will come”. She notes that "likewise, a village chief gave development as the reason for allowing researchers to conduct surveys in his village." Taking this point further, it is therefore understandable why it might be that when "development" - however it may be imagined by research participants - does not come as expected, they would feel slighted, disappointed, or even angered by researchers (and any future researchers).