Transcript from one-on-one interview
Friday, May 24, 2019
Hung out from 10:10 AM – 2:00 PM. Interviewed happened at the beginning of this time (from 10:57 AM - 12:15 PM).
Location: lunch venue in Westlands (Nairobi, Kenya)
Participant: Kenyan woman who resides in Nairobi and runs her own research/training organization. She also has been doing development consultancy research projects since about 2014.
Discussion conducted entirely in English. Audio recording was uploaded to Otter.ai which did the initial rough transcription. Research Assistant did initial cleaning. Angela Okune then listened through and edited for accuracy before redacting according to interloutor's requests.
Total discussion time: 1hr 17 mins
Angela Okune 0:03
So it is 10:57 on Friday, May 24. And so you've just...actually you haven't even looked at the actual... So here, this is one I just created. And still again, this is only...I can only...we can see it because we're logged in as admin but from the public view you can't see it.
Angela Okune 0:24
And again, this is to just kind of use as an elicitation device because we both have this knowledge of this project, to start to think about data sharing. So this is called an artifact within this group. And you can click this [pause] I hope the Internet will work with us. I think as people are arriving maybe the internet is getting slow?
There's no one here.
Angela Okune 0:54
[laughs]. I don't know...So here we can see this is "student experiences of research within private university" [looking at digitized fieldnotes that EA-KW-A-M-03 had typed and shared with Angela to upload to RDS platform] and then this is basically, you took these so I think you know them [laughs]...
I was actually typing them as they were talking so it's a bit... yeah.
Angela Okune 1:14
...But I went through and so I added... I wasn't sure if the ones that you had typed were the pseudonyms or not though it said you had told them they could choose pseudonyms...so I replaced all the names.
Angela Okune 1:15
and I made them all pseudonyms. So you can see here: Beatrice, Janice, Catherine...And so you can see these are basically the notes you took, I redacted the name of the university. But otherwise I kept it all the same. You can see it's quite long. And then up here you can see the creator. So in this case, I put your name, though if it was an organization, maybe I would have put [REDACTED ORG NAME] or if it was the, you know, the university then they could have put [REDACTED ORG NAME] if they wanted to be that creator.
Angela Okune 2:00
and also the source. And then I had added this, "this discussion with seven current students at a private university in Nairobi focused on the students' experience with research at the University as part of the MA communications program. The discussion took place on the ninth of November and was facilitated by the head of department and an external facilitator." And then here you can see tags. So if somebody is interested in students, they can come and they can find that "research", "university", "FGD", "Kenya", "Nairobi". And then this is the group audience. So right now this is the only...
...people who are in [REDACTED ORG NAME] group are the only ones who can see it. And nobody else can see it...
And how will you know they are in that group?
Angela Okune 2:43
Because they will have made it.
Angela Okune 2:46
And then...I won't go into this one, but down the line, you can also annotate and so you can ask questions of this transcript or this data piece. So like, if you have...
oh that's cool! it's a cool site.
Angela Okune 2:57
... let's say you're coming with your MA....And you're like, okay, I want to know what are students' challenges. Now you you have your questions you can go in and you can analyze it [the transcript]. But then maybe someone is coming and they want to know gender discrepancies between the experience of students. So then they can come in with their own questions around gender, maybe and they can analyze it from that perspective, then you can actually look at it together and you know, have that richness of insights from different perspectives.
Angela Okune 3:25
So this is just...this is what we're calling an artifact. This would be like one data point, if you will, one data artifact. And so based off of this, I have just a few questions to ask you. [they laugh together] So I think first of all, I mean, specifically, on this one would you feel comfortable sharing this?
Of course after I read it, if I remember. I would feel comfortable. I would have to look at how we...what kind of information was in the consent for them. Yeah, I'll have to check, what did we tell them? And then yeah...because also it's institutional yeah? Because this project we were doing it not as an institution by the way. It's a pilot at a lower level. So it speaks of students' experiences, which some of them could be perceived by the University as damning for their reputation. So there could be need for clearance at some different levels, especially because it's...
Angela Okune 4:33
So who do you think would you need...like who would you need to talk to before ...?
First is the participants... how was it... because it's, it's easily identifiable, because it was a small pilot group. So it's easy to know who are those who were with [REDACTED PERSON NAME], you know it's on email. So it should be at that level. Of course, the head of department level and then if she has to seek clearance on a higher level institutionally...
Angela Okune 5:04
Then she would advise?
Then she would advise.
Angela Okune 5:10
Do you think timing would matter? I guess this wasn't an ongoing project. But like, typically there's something called like embargo period. So like after a project is finished, maybe there's an embargo period of like three years, where nothing is released, but after three years, then it becomes available. Do you think something like that would be important here?
Angela Okune 5:37
Like is there a time factor in terms of when this would be shared?
No, I don't think there's a time factor because this, this, this just doesn't reflect this university. This is a systemic problem in a university. So even three years from now, I still find it will be relevant because we we haven't transformed a lot in that sector. So I still feel students may likely have the same issues. Yeah. So it will still hold water.
Angela Okune 6:10
Who do you think would be interested in this data?
I think one is faculty, two is students, and it's more like students in terms of feeling I'm not alone. This is...so this is not a foreign feeling because the masters students, especially this particular group, they had finished their coursework and they had left and gone so they don't have...they don't meet. You work on your thesis and you're working in your own job. And then you just submit and graduate because you already passed...your your time for graduation passed eh? Because some were even six years later, five years later, they hadn't graduated. So it's very solo. So for them it'll be like "Oh, so we are not alone there is really someone experiencing this," and I've seen that really matters when it feels normal. And then faculty I would imagine...
Angela Okune 7:06
Do you think in the institution or just generally across the ...?
Across, across. If it's really well written--and that's what we're aiming with [REDACTED PERSON NAME]--to really make it look like it's not just a [REDACTED UNIVERSITY NAME] issue. It's a systemic issue. [REDACTED UNIVERSITY NAME] is just one area where this occurs. And it's not just a private university, it's a public. So it would also find utility in private and public. And I'm glad it's private, because there is a perception private [universities] is where you know they got it all figured out, but to show that it's really systemic. So even if you set up a private university in Kenya right now, how education is structured, how these systems of supervision and all that are structured, you'll likely to end up with... if you don't do anything different, this is how you'll end up, overworked teachers who cannot supervise so many. So if faculty, broadly, heads of department. Now they have...I hear [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME] has had this... I still want to do a mapping of the student centres. Students centers, seeing how they really support. So I find this would be important for them to say you have a student center, but you have a pool of students who haven't graduated. Like, what's what's happening in that space? How do you support students, so I would find that interesting for them. And generally, the whole university because for me, I'm framing all of this as a systemic issue. And now this is how a broken system really affects a student individually. So making that...I hope [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME]...but they are so used to speaking to Vice Chancellors, I don't know, and that for me is the thing, I don't know if this should be...[recorded]... it feels like...I feel so...I feel so alone. Like I'm a solo voice. And I feel deeply I'm speaking something that makes sense. But I just feel because I'm solo. I'm not in an institution of higher learning, in a very big institution, I feel my voice may not be heard. So I...it's either I use this to, to sort of amplify my voice or see how I can create a community of... but it's kind of...feels so slowly... it feels so big for me. But so important. So I mean that... And maybe this is how...one way my voice as a solo person, interested in higher education...because normally people approached it as institutionally, let's solve this but as an individual, I still feel you can see a problem in...in an institution and want to do something but maybe this is...
Angela Okune 9:50
And do you feel like there's enough research work or let's say like applied research, maybe public research being done towards trying to fix or address the issues in higher education?
I think there is, I don't know the questions they're asking. If I go with the [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME] conference, there was a lot of...this time around, there was a lot of presentation on supervision. Supervision and what's wrong there. But it was very...it was only that...this is what is wrong...it didn't go deeper than...so now the fixing was "ok now we need to improve how we supervise, now we need to make sure we pay the lecturer..." like it was so...what's the word? It was so at identify the problem. It didn't go deeper, but I was happy that conversation was there because I think if you open the supervision can, and you open it right, you will see all these problems that happen: overworked lecturers, underpaid, not prepared, all those things. So I think there could be research in it but as you know, okay, not you [laughs] but in Kenya we still do research as pockets...and if it doesn't get published in a journal where you could quickly Google, you will never find it. It's stored in someone's office. It's stored in a library. And University libraries--except [REDACTED UNIVERSITY NAME] which have tried--I don't know about the others...you don't have access if you're not a student, you know. So you, you don't know if it's not published. Some have repositories. I don't know how accessible, I'd have to check. But, there could be research. I don't know what questions but...
Angela Okune 11:36
But for me, that's what I...that's why I gravitate towards the idea of data and sharing of the data. Because you see, even if at these conferences, you actually realize, oh, they're actually these people working on these things. Once everyone leaves a conference, it's hard to kind of keep things going. And also maybe they never end up publishing it. So if you don't go to that conference, you would never have known that this person has been working on it because you can't find the work beyond that. But with something like this, if it can become, you know, looking at each other's data, like let's say they collect...they did some sort of research and they probably collected some sort of data, if there is a way they could now share that you can look at it, you guys can start to create that shared conversation around something that you're all passionate about, hopefully it breaks some of that loneliness. And you can actually start creating collaborations outside of just who you already know, maybe whose in your department what, what, like that, and it allows for potential, I think, to actually create shared analysis in a way that just sharing papers doesn't really do because papers, we have our own, already kind of pre-baked, you know, analysis in that. But if we can all look at this together, maybe someone who's working on it from the lecturer's overworked perspective has a different takeaway here. Maybe they would say, "Oh, these students, maybe they don't have the right perspective because they are not thinking about it from the lecturer's...", you know, but you might take the side of the student and you're like no, the student... you know what I mean? So like, then you can actually start to have that conversation grounded on the data.
Yeah. And I think also this, this would help in the sense, it would really help as well, if it's very, if it's very well...is it thematisized? like it's it's "higher education", higher education. So that it's very easy...because access also hinders one from...you know, you may have a very nice site and then if it feels...access will not be...So if it's also compartmentalized in a way that...if I want to know what's the latest research, all the actors who are interested... I wish universities would buy into this because they are the main producers of a lot of knowledge. Whether it's students' research you see how now the students' masters research, it may not be very...but, it's an entry, you know, and it could help maybe with all this research that students do waste so much time and money, but we never get to know what...you know. So I don't know, even if it's the whole repository is there... instead of having all of them cram the site, is that a way the repository can be linked there and then you just click and you...
Angela Okune 14:17
It can be, yeah. Who do you think within the university systems would maybe be responsible for, let's say, if the universities decided they wanted to be part of this kind of a thing, what you know from the university setup, which, which...would it be within the department? Would it be libraries?
Libraries would be better. We have research departments in the University, as I have seen, but I kind of feel their role is fundraising. Research fundraising for proposals to bring money, it's, it feels...it's not student-level research, as I... like it's now when I speak to someone like..."but how does you having a research department translate to students having better experiences, better mentorship..." you know, and they're like, "Okay, this is something we could..." So it's...sometimes I feel it's so delinked because because I don't know...the setting of this research...but anyway libraries would be the best and then see who gives okay for that in the library. And they'll just...because they can, they have picking as they come, and they are able to...
Angela Okune 15:33
In terms of sharing of like going back to this data artifact, would you put any conditions in terms of how this data would be used? So like someone would need to, let's say, give attribution to the creator or maybe even like, money or what have you.
Mmmh... Maybe maybe...What is it? Is it accreditation? Acknowledgement? ...For money, I think that will block like, because it's something new. When money's involved in this context, its immediately people translate, oh, it's a business. So that I'd leave out even if this was a pilot, it was volunteer. I would still say, for the sake of shifting minds, remove, remove many barriers and money could be a barrier.
Angela Okune 16:35
And if you are on the user side, like if you were, let's say working on your PhD, would you use this, this data?
Yeah I would. Yeah, but I don't know, from your own perspective, is it...is it...you take it as it is, right? You're taking the data as it is. You're not altering, you're not editing. You're not [pause]. Is it peer-revi... It's as it is, no?
Angela Okune 17:05
I think ... mmmmmh. It depends on how...but let's say you just encountered it like this. The way it is, you would see who created it. You could reach out to this person. And you could say maybe if you had questions you could ask further questions. Yeah,
No I would! If it's exactly like this where I can see what was the question, what was the response. Because sometimes data becomes very sanitized. So you don't even know what was asked. So this this, this would be good. If I really want to see what was really happening in that specific moment. What was being asked. I wouldn't mind such. Because sometimes you read a report and you're like, "what?" Because we don't even attach the interview guides. We don't...like what was really the question that led to this kind of response. So this...this would help, and the fact that I can reach the author? Perfect! Yeah.
Angela Okune 18:06
What would make you decide whether something was like good quality or like maybe lesser quality in terms of determining if you would want to use it for your own data?
Quality...You know, it's all relative eh? Because ummm, for me, even this, even if I read this, I think I'll judge it based on how it is itself. You know, like, I wouldn't have like a very clear standards because some could not be peer reviewed, doesn't mean it's not good, right? It could even introduce another question. So I wouldn't...I wouldn't...I know it will be an obsession for most people. Is it peer reviewed, is it...but I think for me, that's not the issue. It's not about heirarching data...it is data. So this is what happened. Now it's for you to say, can I extend this question? Can I...yeah, but for me, I think and that's why we are where we are because we hierarchy data, we hierarchy it in journals. We dismiss other data...that's why someone would say, but you asked me again! But because what was collected did not see the light of day in a specific way so I'll come back again to you. So to minimize that, let it be..it's not about quality, which is subjective, it's about this is what was collected now work around that.
Angela Okune 19:42
How would you trust that someone was...like the author is being truthful in terms of portraying something?
First it would be nice to see...Like, it would be nice if it was approved, ethically somewhere by a body that would show that at least it met some standards of that. Also, if someone could attach the consent too that they used, that would also help. Yeah.
Angela Okune 20:19
And then you had mentioned hierarching in terms of like, for discoverability to be able to find things. And you said maybe at the top level, higher education, how would you like what kinds of...how would you change, let's say this title, what kinds of categories would you use for this?
For this one, I would have a broad category, higher education, and then maybe split it up into...gosh there are so many ways of splitting it up, it could be private, public, well, it could be doctoral, undergrad, it could be...issues. It could be...It could be what? It could be sub, not subject but like it could be themes of what works. What are some of the contemporary issues? It could also be that... What are we grappling with, what's the current picture...so it could be different ways.
Angela Okune 21:27
Do you think someone, let's say like you, a copy of you, similar expertise, similar knowledge. If they came across this, would they make sense of it? And would they get it and would they be able to use it?
Ummm, okay this one I guess because it wasn't fully transcribed...I guess if it's full...
Angela Okune 21:46
Let's pretend it is... yeah...
I think they would find...Maybe, maybe give a bit more of a background what this was, who they were, more... you know it doesn't say that these are students who have stayed five years in the university system, they haven't graduated, like, give a bit more of a background. Give a bit more of what was the intention... Because the intention was to see how can we have a mentorship program. And what was really done...because this was an intervention. It's just not an FGD. It's students who self applied to a program, went through a program, and now they're reporting their.... So to really give a good background, I think would help someone see "Okay, so this is what this was" but right now it may not give a lot and someone may be like, okay so what's the context here.
Angela Okune 22:48
Okay. Um, what do you think has to be important components for this kind of a data sharing platform, being able to cite the data set, let's say with DOI. Or like something like that to cite it. Do you think that is important?
Yeah, why not? It will also create more... it's the site right? For the project side, no?
Angela Okune 23:12
To be able to cite it. So like let's say the same way you cite a paper...
Yeah, I think it's important, because that's also how it gains visibility, no?
Angela Okune 23:22
Restricting access to the data set to authorized individuals only?
In the beginning yes as you test it...
Angela Okune 23:30
Ensuring that someone accesses the entire data set and all corresponding materials together so that they don't take one data point out of context?
Yes, but also really having the right...A really strong data protection system...checking, so that I don't have the whole data set and... anyway, can you even control how someone uses data then. When it's out of you, like when I have access, can you control how I'll use it? Like, I don't know how that can be...
Angela Okune 24:06
How would you want to control it?
Speak to the authors, speak to the people who if you can eh? Like if it's this, if someone would tell me okay, I have this data I want to use, I want to...or maybe I don't know, if there's a way, an automatic way that I can be notified, just in case there's something I put out that I'm not sure how it will be. What is this study about? Because, for me, if this went to the ministry I wouldn't be comfortable yet because...it was not at that level, and they can mis...they can interpret it... you know... any... So it's just layers of ... It could take time [giggles] but in the beginning, just "is the author aware? Is the creator or the author aware that this is going? Who is going to use it?" Yeah, I think that would...
Angela Okune 24:57
So would you want them, let's say a potential user to ask for permission before they can view it? Or would you want them to just inform someone if they're going to use it? After they've already seen it?
I think they can ask permission. If they want to download it. Yeah. To view? You can view. But if you want...because for me how I interpret research, it's a collaborative effort. It's a collaboration with your participants, with those who give you ethics, it's collaborative. So it's not just also you have opinion on it. So if maybe you want to download it, okay, now, maybe we need to ask this because we don't know...
Angela Okune 25:17
Actually, yeah, some of those issues are here. So being able to see usage statistics on how many people have accessed this data?
Angela Okune 25:48
...Being able to gather information about the people who have accessed or made use of the data?
Angela Okune 25:53
So those are strong, eh? Beyond just usage, are there any other measurements or analytics that you would want to apply to the data?
Angela Okune 26:04
Beyond just maybe usage.
What else? What else could there be? Well if there's a time that all this data particularly if it's in a specific area if you boil down data on supervision, is there a way of...And maybe it's in different contexts. Now in the frame of which I'm very, not at all good at, maybe it's even not the right space...this big data kind of thing...to now bring all this because still even if it's in thematic...it's still...it's not giving us a big picture. And as we continue doing research, we still don't have a... so you can reach the place where, I don't know with technology with a big data thing, we can have even periodic...
Angela Okune 26:56
Yeah, and just see what are the trends now? Including for qualitative data, you know? Who's been researched a lot in this area? Who are we not speaking to? Yeah, I think it can really help to build the big picture later.
Angela Okune 27:16
And would you...do you think... I'm not sure if this is still applicable but, like submitting the data, do you think it should be a very manual thing like someone uploads every single thing moja, moja [one by one] or it's like automatic. Like, let's say you have a folder then you're like, Okay, let me just put and it automatically uploads like 20 of the things.
Eh! Automatic [they laugh]. The easier the better!
Angela Okune 27:44
What do you think are a researcher's responsibilities when they're, let's say uploading? What are the things they need to do, or...?
They have to make sure that they have consent. They have informed the people who participated in the research. And as you say, do it early, don't do it later because they will be like "aah! Even what did I...what, what..." then they'll be, they'll be very nervous. So just do it in the beginning. So it could be a word of notes, if you have to share on this platform, let people know and then maybe create like, what should they know? What should they know about...Because maybe the researcher may not articulate it the same. So have like an already saved message of "this is how it should be used, it will be on Data Share to be accessed like this..." So that it's a consistent message. And yeah, I think that is a core responsibility and just authentic data. You know, don't cook up data and bring it here, even if it's...yeah. Just be responsible.
What do you think the responsibilities are for anyone who accesses the data?
It's to notice...to notify the people using it, but it is also to use it responsibly.
Angela Okune 29:10
What does that mean?
The notification is to create collaboration. It's that "okay, I know you're doing this data..." so we can even have a conversation. What did you look at? I'm trying to look at this... do you think it'll, you know, it's not you're notifying me so that I can say yes or no, it could be like, am I okay? But it could also be to converse you know, around what you're doing. But responsibly is it's not for money. It's not to harm or to take revenge on people who spoke about...it's not for...[pauses] yeah, it's not to...yeah, I don't know...like this [transcript] is so specific, if [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME] saw it, and why are you at [REDACTED UNIVERSITY NAME], why are you doing? It's not to do that. So I don't know...I'd have to think more on that like, what does responsibly mean...It's not to...Yeah...You know when data is out there? When you have access, it's so hard to control what people do...but it's good to have...[pause]. It's to also know this can harm. Like do no harm. Do no harm in terms of data. Have a "do no harm" policy or something.
Angela Okune 30:43
Do no harm against the people interviewed? Or do no harm against who?
Against it could be them. It could be the author, it could be...Yeah, like, just bring aware because sometimes they're not so aware how you can harm people with data you know? The risks. The potential risks that can be there. But it's so interesting, do we submit works we use in our literature reviews, do we submit it to the same rigor? You know like we just focus on...you look at the methodology. But why would we also want to submit this to such rigor? Why? Why does it have to be more...is the responsibility more when now we're sharing...cuz even publication is sharing but yeah. I don't know, I'm just thinking....why is it more rigorous...why...why am I saying that now? But there is what editors do, maybe that's...there is work the editors do...but they don't control how whoever uses your published work, right? Like it's, once it's published, people will use it, no one will...but you know them they're not also aiming for collaborative...sharing. They're not aiming...it's get it out there. So maybe this is why this is different...
Angela Okune 32:25
And I know the answer to this, but what was the funding source that enabled you to do the research that produced this data?
[laughs] personal funding.
Angela Okune 32:34
And why do you feel strongly about even putting your own time and potential potential money...you know, you would have...there's opportunity cost, that you gave up to do this. Why do you feel so strongly about this?
Uhhhh. Because, for me, why I use that strategy...Because I knew I'd never have access to the university any other way. The context we're working in... if you don't come with the money bag...you, you're not going to speak. So this approach was for me to get entry. And to really bring to light this [issue]. I don't know how far it has brought to light...we should do a dissemination workshop, which I've asked [REDACTED PERSON NAME] hopefully it will be done, so that it can really make sense to a broader... But it was really to bring out this and it was conceived--[REDACTED PERSON NAME] and I-- its more even her I would say... Okay, let's pilot...we have a group that hasn't graduated, can we pilot with this? So it was important to do it this way because it felt like the only way I'll be listened to. It also felt like the only way I'd enter the university space and be a bit in control, controlling, you know, and I think it brought somethings... because that's how I was also able to talk to faculty and even meet [REDACTED PERSON NAME]... I don't know what came out of it yet. It's still triggers someone, "okay, maybe we are not okay." You know? And all these students have now gotten supervisors, I still am active...I've linked them with [REDACTED ORG NAME] and they are taking courses, you know, because there are some things we couldn't do like literature sourcing. Now, I see them building on that and because for me is also...why it's also important ...but this is later...it's to also link them. Because they felt very isolated from their... they feel very isolated as we said. They are not even sure they're part of the research community. And by putting them in these spaces where other researchers are speaking is to show them you are part of a community, you are not alone. So then later, later that became the continuity and I'm very happy that some are still within that because I noticed some even...Yeah, their supervisors told them [inaudible],"...should I?" I say, well, you have to because, like, you know, one had to change her topic and...and, ah, like completely change and she had made a lot of progress then the supervisor felt that they're not able to supervise well in that area. So I got lost somewhere, what was the question again? [laughs]
Angela Okune 35:32
It's super interesting. And like, what do you feel like when you say...when people think of "research" here, what is legitimate research? And who is a "legitimate" researcher? Cuz I think what I've been hearing from you echoed in this interview is like, this sense of, if you're not within a particular academic institution with a particular degree, you're kind of...not legitimated.
Yeah, it's...yeah, if you're not...if you're a lone ranger, let me just say...If you're a lone ranger researcher, you have to prove yourself a lot more. And you could be in an institution, and you're not a very good researcher, and you could be outside [of an institution] and you're really good and well networked, eh? So there's that perception that institutions are more legitimate than individuals, which for me is very alienating as a researcher, because even when you went for the [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME] conference, what institution? There's always that question, "what institution are you aligned to?" Why do you have to be aligned an institution? Why not...I am a freelance researcher, you know? And then what also happens when you're not in institutions. And it's something, there's a research I did...in the slums about...when you're recognized as...when you're framed as not legitimate. Like you're a private unregistered, you miss out. You'll never be called for meetings, you're not in an emailing list, you're not in a...you know you're not in a... you know you'll never be called upon...and that's...the other day I was checking the [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME] site and now they're talking of how to...I think how to work on supervision and all that. But I was like, I have some thoughts to say about it based on my small experiences with students. But I don't know how...how I'll link with these big voices and that's why I like... [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME]. It's so...it's so inclusive, you know. Even as a sole Lone Ranger, you have a space. I wish higher education...maybe it's there, I haven't explored...but I don't find a space for smaller organizations...where they're called to the table, we're still not part of the table. And we could be actually the disruptors, we could be the game changers because they are used to this system and we could be the ones saying no, look you could do this...But these institutions are seen more legitimate. So you kind of follow... or you really have to work hard. I know now...right now if I went to [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME], I really have to work hard...it's, "who are you?" or it's through someone else that you gain legitimacy. Like through [REDACTED PERSON NAME], when she said... "This is [REDACTED NAME OF INTERVIEWEE], she's a researcher, she has something to say..." Now I am [in]....But you see she's also saying because she's in an institution. So I was so happy that [REDACTED ORG NAME] is also very open, you know, that come... So now for me, I have to rely on these spaces like those you know? And it's still ok, it could be the game change as well. Right? [REDACTED ORG NAME] seems like a good idea. But yeah, so that's what I feel...
Angela Okune 39:14
and ideally what do you think higher education in Kenya should be?
Whaaa... that's a big question! [laughs]
Angela Okune 39:20
I know, I'm going off script now...[laughs]
Actually right now I'm writing an article...I'm co-authoring just a blog on traumatic experiences of students as they undergo supervision. But I'm framing it still as a systemic issue. It's not us because sometimes "ahhh, it's those supervisors." It's not really...sometimes they are also...so I think the problem is the ideology. It still boils back to the ideology we...we have brought on...what is education... the neoliberal... how it has infiltrated our schooling system. So I think that's...it should be and that's what I think... that it's an ideological shift. One that breaks hierarchies in education. We have too many hierarchies. And that's why students I've seen at the bottom and you are only recipients. "Don't talk, we talk you listen." But we can't produce knowledge with such hierarchies. And hierarchy comes from the values of neoliberalism you know? There is the professional, there is the non..., you know, so we need an inclusive education...so that...so that even supervisors. Yeah, I haven't thought clearly about it, but I think...we have to interrogate what values that Neo-liberalism has changed...How...what's its value system has brought in the schooling. One I can see very clearly is the hierarchies and the whole you know, it's commercialized education. It's not education for...it's now not clear why we are even in university. Is it for jobs? Is it for skills? Is it...? You know? So it's...it's made that very unclear and uncomfortable. So it has to start there. I don't know are there countries which have a different ideology? in terms of higher education...like are there those that are more inclusive, they've managed to...learning is is not this [long pause]... it's... ubuntu?... ubuntu in education. [laugh together]. We need ubuntu in knowledge creation, in learning, you know?... intergenerational dialogue you know! That's what I feel. So that's why we work in silos, that's why we have difficulties. But someone's life...there's one paper we co-authored and said a child does not experience feeding separate from learning so what we also do...we compartmentalize and in those compartments, science, everyone in STEM, you in the arts, you what are you doing even if we have STEAM put an "A" there, it doesn't transform anything so yeah I think that ideology, we have to see how it has really complicated and brought violence in education. Cuz I think it is very violent. It's a very violent system; when I saw those...when the students were speaking...I could see how violent education can be. I mean, they are doing a degree and they feel so lost. They feel so abused by the system that it's "let me get [a degree] and leave [dusts her hands to show they are over it]. I don't want to come back." How will we produce knowledge when people are feeling so...that that's the place to [pause]... it's very alienating. Yeah. [pause]
Angela Okune 42:56
Wow. [long pause and then both laugh].
Or what do you think?
Angela Okune 43:05
Long pause! Stretch... okay! [EAKWAM03 laughs in the background]
Or what do you think?
Angela Okune 43:12
No, I mean, I agree with you, as you know, and I think this is why we...I mean, we've only known each other for a few months, but I think we kind of connected because I think we feel like education can be more, research can be more [EAKWAM03 chimes in with agreement] than it currently is. And I think part of the struggle is figuring out what that "more" looks like [EAKWAM03: yeah] and how to actually start building towards that "more". [EAKWAM03: mmm hmmm] Because as much as you want to break the system, you also have to imagine an alternative that isn't just a worse system than the one you already have. [EAKWAM03: yeah] And I think people haven't figured that out and we just keep trudging along and hoping things will get better.
I think it's just step by step. Break hierarchies. See students as...just small...
Angela Okune 44:02
Yeah, and I think for me, that's what...even, going back to this thing on data, because it's still within the same kind of paradigm, you know, that is in today's system. But if we can get students and their teachers to sit together and look at a data set together and say, "okay, you have this perspective on it from where you're coming from. Me I have this perspective from where I'm coming from." And for that to somehow if that can even help to start leveling
Angela Okune 44:31
...this...this very vast, "knower" and...[inaudible contribution by EAKWAM03]...exactly, if we can start...So again, it's partly about also having a shared object of inquiry or knowledge. That we can both look at together and start to critique or analyze or build off of. I think that that might help as a starting point for us to try and you know...and for us to critique this platform and not to take it for granted, but to say like "why is this like this?" So for us to use even things like data, as part of how we are teaching research as a...as an object. To teach people to think critically around these things not to just take them for granted. "This is the way it has to be", no! Like how are we building new things and critiquing it as we go. So that's kind of my perspective on things like we shouldn't...even whatever it is I build will never be perfect. And we shouldn't take it as perfect, right? But how do we keep iterating on it and keep moving forward even if we know what we're making is not perfect, you know?
It's imperfection. In the perfection of it that we keep improving you know? And for me, I see it...I was thinking, is it transform the system or is it healing? And I think part of it is healing and the healing is breaking this...bringing people who don't think to speak or speak [inaudible]. I think there's an element of healing within the system and then walking towards a transformation of it.
Nice. [laugh together] Okay, I have a few more questions... [EAKWAM03: Okay fine.] if we can get there...Have you ever looked for data sets yourself? Like other datasets created by other people?
You know when you said data sets... [laughs] Okay I've looked at the Kenya...
Angela Okune 46:19
or what do you use as data maybe we can start there...
Yeah you know! Cuz data set to me is very...it feels already quantitative...
Angela Okune 46:25
And ummm, yeah I look for both the numbers and the stories...when I want national numbers I look at the KDHS...
Angela Okune 46:39
That's... ? What's KDHS?
Kenya Health Demographic. Every five years. Will you go to Kenya Bureau by the way? [referring to Kenya Bureau of Statistics]
Angela Okune 46:47
I know, I need to...[Inaudible conversation, laugh together]
...that's where it's the basis from which they make decisions eh? The economic survey. Those I have checked. Ummmm... So I look at what government...which of it...it's not... But it gives an indication...I look at other works of other people... literature, yeah....
Angela Okune 47:14
So for the stories and the narratives, where have you found...where have you found them? Have you found them?
In books and journals...mostly journals. Basically, what's online. What's not online? And the thing is also, local data is so guarded. It's so...[pause] it's so institutional property, you know? Like the organization I worked for... shall not be named...Okay, the institutions I've worked for..We have this thing of "our data, our data," and that's where also the...especially for gender projects....That's where people feel very over-researched. Like even the [REDACTED GOV'T AGENCY NAME] space, we still have "my data" and we are all talking the same thing. So you already beat us. Why am I going to repeat it? Why? So it's also because...now that that data is not available, it's not there. It is not accessible. I don't know people really [pause]...people really own data like it's their property. Who is the data for? Whose data for? If I'm the one who gave the story... why is an institution...?
Angela Okune 48:35
Why do you think the institutions...like let's think about the ones you have worked for... why do you think they are so guarded?
It's about funding! Yeah, it's tied to funding. Like, you, you treat data as currency. You know? That's how you get proposals. That's how you get to prove "Oh, there's a big problem!". Then you get funded. So it's also how data stories have also entered that mix in how we fund, who funds. Because government data is open, but ...and you saw in Kenya, like Kenya, most of the projects, say health... they are donor funded. So? And you can see like the other day, the guy from Ministry was saying, they can't use data from organizations and we were like, "how?!" So there is... there is data, but it's stored, there's politics around who produced it. It's not relevant. It's also how you interpret data. If if data was in a specific context--it was not a national study-- does that mean it was not...you know? Because that's the way the guy was trying to argue "it's just a small project." But it is something! Yeah.
Angela Okune 49:56
And so do you think like an organization like some of the ones you've worked with would say to a funder, like, we have this data and therefore we are the best ones positioned... like is that how they use ... like, how did they... how did they sell it to funders in that story, you know?
How I they...how I think they sell it is...Okay, they use it more...It's under the guise, "we want a backlash, you know...it's we don't want it to harm...". But for me, how I interpret it, is more like ummm, cuz, you know, proposal development is very...So, if you have gathered data in a specific context and you're sharing certain things, and this is, you see...also what is not considered there is this consultancy, it's consultancy but it's research, you know? So a baseline study you wouldn't want to share because that's, that's what you're using to justify, to ask for more funding. If it's open there, we all have it, we are all accessing it, we are all, developing proposals. So it's... and I was telling the county [government] person..never should I be...okay of course it was very simplistic, but I was saying it like "never should I be county coordinator and an organization tells me they cannot share data with me. You will close." Because then who are you serving? If you cannot share with with the county and especially a county that is open... They keep on saying "but we don't have data. We don't have data." But everyone has data. They're not sharing it... then?
Angela Okune 51:37
So like in the projects, maybe the consultancies you've worked on...who... like after you collect the data...How does that data...[EAKWAM03: "I don't know!"] Like do you keep it on your computer? Do you send it to them?
I send the report but I'm left with a copy. Sometimes I wonder what happened...did they...did they implement something we said? Did... ? I don't know what happened.
Angela Okune 52:00
You normally do the field work yourself.
Yeah, like now we'll start one next week. Go to Kakuma, collect data...
Angela Okune 52:07
You're going to Kakuma?! You?!
The other week. Yeah... [laugh together]
For a gender analysis.
Angela Okune 52:13
Okay that one I could see why it well, because we did an evaluation last year and said we need an analysis. So at least that one they took onboard. But the clause is usually "this property belongs to..." You can't share it without the authority. So you see, you're... you can't even...sometimes I'm like, "wow, this can be a good... ehhh...something to publish and talk about," but you don't have access to how you'll use it. Yeah.
Angela Okune 52:40
So you...like this Kakuma one, you'll go to Kakuma, you'll collect data. Qualitative?
Angela Okune 52:47
...like stories... interviews? nini nini [etc.etc.]...
Stories, of women, of men, because it's a gender analysis. Then we come [back to Nairobi] and analyze it...
Angela Okune 52:56
You guys will analyze it or them they'll... the client will...
Us! It's everything! Them the deliverable is a report.
Angela Okune 53:01
Okay. Will you also send them the data?
There are those who ask... but in my experience, they don't ask. Yeah.
Angela Okune 53:12
And in the contract, does it have like a data clause?
Angela Okune 53:17
Like does it say...What does it normally say in terms of IP?
It says you can't share. For most is you can't share it. It's their property. If you want to use it, you have to ask for permission. So normally, you're just stuck, you know? Like I even did one with a Dutch organization and they had a whole... you can't even mention it in the...put it out on the site that you did this, but they said you can get a recommendation later. So it's very protected. Consultancy, I've found it's a very... in terms of data, it's a very un-empowering space. If you want to go beyond just doing a job. Because sometimes you really see issues you could amplify issues you could talk about but your source was them so you can't reference them because...
Angela Okune 54:12
Have you ever tried to ask if you could use the data?
[long pause] No. [laughs]
Angela Okune 54:19
Do you think they'd say no?
I think it would be a long process. I think it would be... I'm very close with the lady of the... Holland. Yeah, I didn't ask... I think it would be...It would be quite bureaucratic. "What are you using it for...why are you...", you know? But they really spell it out. So it's [consultancy sector] also an area I find there is a lot of data. Because it's the basis of most projects, there's usually a consultancy you know, a baseline. Even them [the Kakuma project], they're starting off with a feasibility study, you know? So...but you will find that you don't have access to do anything with that you know? It's their property. You are just...there for a job...go. At least if you are in the institution you could say "okay, now I think we can..." But rarely do you even know, do they implement...? There is no writing back like... you know. "We liked how you articulated... we used it..." You know... it's very...
Angela Okune 55:27
That feels like a very big potential place where something like this could...if we could get it so that such data that is collected through consultancies... Cuz I know a lot of university faculty and staff also do consultancies [EAKWAM03: MMMMM MMMMM!!] [in strong agreement] on the side. And how many of those data sets are not able to be made public, you know?
And that's where over-researching is. Cuz if you are doing a baseline you will come up and come up.
Angela Okune 55:55
Yeah. And you find many of those because they're not "academic" projects, don't make it to the journal, also.
No [in agreement]!! They don't go anywhere!! Yeah!
Angela Okune 56:02
So that's part of why no one ends up learning about...[the amount of consultancy work that gets done and its findings].
Like we did a very nice one in Dadaab [another refugee camp] and I kept thinking "wow, I wish... I wish" [that she could share and talk about the findings]. That one the guy who was in charge tried to ask. They said no. But it was so good like, you know things you can really speak about but...
Angela Okune 56:27
And they ended up in a report...
...for the client? And the client did what with that report?
I don't know. There's one they said "oh we presented it in the parliament." It's the...in...in...Denmark...but you don't know what they've presented... like you...
Angela Okune 56:44
So they're researching in refugee camps in Kenya and then they're presenting it in Parliament in Denmark??
For donation. It's for... It's part of ... it's an evaluation. So if you want more funding, you will...[Angela: to then help support the refugees?] Yeah.And I think we had highlighted a lot. And I kept asking "what did they discuss?" Even him he didn't know, he was just told. And they highlighted a lot...we had a highlighted... it was about mapping spheres of influence. We were mapping whose influence... whose influence operates what time. Like if I look back, it was quite thorough...But ah. So I've seen consultancies are such a such a waste...in terms of data usage, data sharing, it's really where... it's really a... [pause] I think it's not even research at all. What are people doing with that data?
Angela Okune 57:51
Mmmh. And consultancies are normally paid for by who?
Angela Okune 57:56
But like which kinds of...there are development organizations... development agencies that normally set up research consultancies?
No. Part of your funding...part of your budget for a project has a consulting... So you will say...part of this project, we will do a baseline, we will do a midterm evaluation, we'll do an end-term evaluation. So you just put it there.
Angela Okune 58:19
So it's part of a bigger...the budget is actually for a development project, let's say giving aid to refugees in Kakuma. And then now you have a budget line that's like research and evaluation. [EAKWAM03: Yeah.] And that's now like a small 10% of the budget. [EAKWAM03: Yeah.] And now you're like, "okay, I'm going to do some just monitoring of the impact of the project," is it?
Or if they want to start, the donor may say, "okay we want to see...you know the proposal must be based on..." So they would fund that and then... or they ask for an abstract and then you send a bigger proposal.
Angela Okune 58:56
And normally the organizations outsource that to let's say people like yourself, freelancers, other companies, like that?
In terms of freelance, that's where it's a bit...sometimes they even want consultant, a person and not an organization.
Angela Okune 59:16
Because they want an external person to do it?
Yeah, no, its external even me at some point [inaudible] for an external but there's this idea that when you are internal you're too close. So it's always an external person who comes for a few days. You don't even interact a lot with the people, cuz you even look like... like when we were doing the evaluation, we almost looked like police [inaudible]. You don't...you're not part of...you're such an outsider to the end cuz you have to be feeling objectivity of some sort, eh? So its very touch and go. You're mainly dealing with data, interviews, write the reports, send it, get paid, finish. [laughs]
Angela Okune 1:00:12
It's not rewarding? You doesn't sound like you...
Fulfillment wise? As a researcher, no. I wish I could do something more with that cuz I also don't think they go back and tell the people we talked to. Most maybe don't go back because to them, I also feel people own...we call them "beneficiaries", a very contested term, like their property. "Our target group", "our beneficiary". You own nobody. Anyway, [laughs]
Angela Okune 1:00:52
Cuz you've been doing this kind of research for how long? How many years?
Consultancy?...uhhh, it's it's been there. I do it alongside working, I've done it alongside...I started in 2014.
Angela Okune 1:01:06
Okay, so that's five years now?
Five years but not super consistent. Now this...2014 2015 quite consistent, that's how I started working with the [REDACTED NGO NAME], through a consultancy project I did and I was really happy with that because I stayed on and we started the project till the end of three years and so I was happy "you know we actually proposed what you saw and field tested it," but most never do that. But yeah, so I can say it's been...Now I'm doing it more and...yeah.
Angela Okune 1:01:40
Do you find...
But what I try to do...I try to bring a research...I'm very heavy with literature, someone was like "wow, [inaudible]. But I'm like, yeah, I'm going there." [laughs] But I footnote...like the one I did last time...the guy was very...I felt he's very... I think he's so used to doing it and you know, international consultants are also they... are diverse in terms of payment but...
Angela Okune 1:01:56
The international one is much higher?
Ooooh, waaaaay higher...waaay--oh my gosh-- ai! Anyway, and it's the same qualification...but cuz you will be called a "local". Then now you will be with the local standards. So I told this guy and he called me I say, "I am a local consultant with international experience so does that count for something ?" But still it's not as easy to...but he was very... and me because I'm, I'm from a research... I want to... "why are we saying this?" "where did this idea come?" Like? I'm on that level. [questioning the research and survey design] And he was like, that's too complicated. We'll do...
Angela Okune 1:02:50
This is now the international researcher?
Yeah, like it's too..."Don't go to those literatures... like it's...don't..." Like so for me, I was like and then I was doing the gender bit. I kept feeling, I have to... anything I'm proposing, I have to situate it in the current debates. I can't suggest something that is from my head like what are people doing in such a context. I had footnotes and then you said "okay, that would be an annex." And I said, as long as it's there, even if we annex it, it will be there and I put "refer to the annex" because he had not. I said but we have to, in my view, we have to, even if it's not... you have to be...because we are proposing...we are...we are being seen as...the organization is trusting you. So you have to locate yourself within how people are studying these issues.
Angela Okune 1:03:45
So that "international" by international you mean...US? Europe? Which one?
Ai, that question... it has to...[be cut].
Angela Okune 1:03:55
Anyway, so a mzungu man hired you to work under him?
Yeah. Through the institution...
Angela Okune 1:04:02
But to be the local one?
Eeeh. Through the institution I was with.
Angela Okune 1:04:06
So it was the two of you?
Angela Okune 1:04:07
And you're now the one who does?
Doing the interview protocol.
Angela Okune 1:04:12
But him he was hired from the institution?
Yeah, even I was hired from the institution.
Angela Okune 1:04:17
But you worked...?
Cuz he's was saying he needed someone local.
Angela Okune 1:04:20
So you guys were here or ... he was your boss?
He was the team leader.
Angela Okune 1:04:26
Coordinator? [Yeah} And he says, he needs someone local?
Local. Who knows the context, you know, there's an assumption, you [the local] know, the context, right? So who knows the context and who...so I was doing a bit of admin work like the interview protocol. And then I just said... I told the lady in the institution that I really want to do good work as well. It's not just...I don't want to do protocols because I'm more than...
Angela Okune 1:04:53
...interview guides, you know?. You know... "this is who we spoke to"... like, I'm beyond that kind of work. So it's also an interesting space in terms of systemic...For me, it's racism. Yes. It is.
And again, going back to what we were talking about higher education...who's the norm? Who's not?
Yeah. Who is the "knower"...Yeah, it felt like why do you have to put "local?" You know, like...? He was like, "why are you bothered?" I say, "Because it is a political thing like it's... when you say local there's a specific way you are framing this. And so I kept feeling this "I have to prove myself" like I have to go over and beyond. So the day we were doing the presentation, the whole night I was saying "how will I frame this?" I was reading, I was listening to YouTube. I was...like, I had to do so much extra. See, this is so weird. Like for me, I have to go over and beyond and I'm sure him he will do but he's...he's already the "knower". I am the one who doesn't know...
Angela Okune 1:05:56
Who needs to prove...
But I was happy, they were like "oh those are good insights," but I work like...[pause].
Angela Okune 1:06:11
Next time you should be the international team leader.
I don't even know. [laugh together] [inaudible] mzungu is under me?
Angela Okune 1:06:17
Yeah, let him be the "local" one.
Oh, he can't. [laugh together] Oooh! I cannot even imagine. I cannot even imagine. And you know, because it's gender I kept feeling... "Oh it's not important, no, it's gender..." And I kept saying, "it is important", like, I had to really...I felt I had to defend my space as a local, but more so as...someone didn't accept it which is dismissed. Gender. You know I kept saying "No, I have to ask a question..." Cuz sometimes they would say, "Okay, now we are about to leave..." I said, "no, I have a question." So it's...yeah.
Angela Okune 1:06:58
And you also...there's a gender component maybe between you and him also...
Yeah, you know! [laugh together] Like, "she's taking notes. Are you taking all the notes?" I said, "Yeah, but I have a question too." So I felt I have to keep..."I'm here, I'm here." [Yeah] I've never had to claim for space like that, but it was a very interesting job, I loved it. And maybe that's why we are doing it again, but I...once in my life because I've never worked with an international consultant...I felt I have to really claim my space. Even if he was very nice, but I could...maybe it was me? I felt I have to...
Angela Okune 1:07:37
But he wasn't based here? Like he's not from here, he's not based here?
No, no, not from here. No, he was flown in.
And then flown out [said simultaneously with EAKWAM03].
Housed very well. [Ai!] Yeah. That's the thing. Consultancy is big money. These are guys I think that are paid for the job could be 1.5 [million] Kenyan Shillings. Yes, yes yes... [REDACTED ORG NAME] rate is 50,000 a day, shillings. Yeah.
You know it's "professional fees", it's not ati, your accommodation, your flights.
Angela Okune 1:08:18
That's just income.
Angela Okune 1:08:22
And the local rate?
Local rate I had said 40, they said no. 30 so...
Angela Okune 1:08:30
30k a day.
Angela Okune 1:08:33
So a difference of 20k.
Yeah, I don't know his was how much but I know the [REDACTED ORG NAME] rate is 50, so the job was 20 days. Cuz normally it's never more than 20. Actually 20 is quite long, most are 15, 12... So that's, that's an M [million]. It's very lucrative...for their consultants, but for the data world...
Angela Okune 1:09:03
Okay, going back to data [they laugh], Okay, stretch, stretch again. Just a few last last just final closing thoughts. [Eehe] We actually we talked about, okay, a lot of over researched topics, over-researched places...what areas...Are there areas or data sets that you would say are hard to find? Topics? I mean, we kind of talked about higher education, the research is there, but maybe not as much as like health or like things like this. Are there "hard to find" missing data sets, things that aren't researched?
Whoo, it's hard to tell. It's hard to tell in a place where data never leaves organizations. It's hard to tell. You can only sense by how many institutions are there doing this thing. But it's really hard to tell... and that's a big challenge, you know? And especially in a country, which is highly privatized, whether it's nonprofit or for profit, it's very hard for you to...it's property, like personal property.
Angela Okune 1:10:11
Got it. Okay, going back to this thing that you had seen...this site, what do you think after aaaaall this conversation...What could be benefits of digitally archiving such materials, let's say data but even materials qualitative...
It's access, it's conversations. It's ummm, conversations to minimize duplication. It's uhhh, trailing your work, you know, even if you see you've been cited in...what, whatever, those things. I saw someone had cited, but I was like, "Who are they?" Can I ask them... how did they find me...? like... So it's also that trailing...that you find your work has meaning, your work is is finding utility and how it is and could you extend that discussion? Because sometimes it ends there. Maybe...yeah.
Angela Okune 1:11:14
And what do you see maybe as the risks?
The risk is...uhhh...[laughs]. The risk is mainly...[pause]. I don't know how you transform rigidity, like, of people not willing to... like you have to navigate that. Because people protect data too much, you know, like, so you could have a very nice space but what you have... there's also need to work on the trust and there's background work for people to say, "okay, we're here. This is for good. There's a problem when it is so siloed." But other than that, if there is good protection...data. Because is it any difference, as I was saying if it's published anyway... you know? But for me it's that eh, it's yeah, I think it's people not coming out of their cocoons of what data is. Over protecting it for I don't know who.
Angela Okune 1:12:26
Mmmh. And how much do you think other people, let's say other consultants or other people that you know that work in the research space... How much do you think they would share your perspective? From what we've been talking about and how much do you think they would see like you're an outlier? Like you're just unique, you.
I think over time people are starting to see the need for sharing. So maybe before I would feel like an outlier, but...and, you know, some still also some they don't care. It's the next big gig, you know, some it's not about knowledge production...it's...So there could be that. Quite a number maybe could fall there. But I'm seeing like now I'm in the M&E...someone from the monitoring and evaluation and monitoring and evaluation that's where most people, consultants are, and there's this learning, shared learning that is...it's only that our hands are tied not to share reports, but I can see people now grouping like...coming together and first the grouping for me is the first step towards breaking these silos. And then saying now what [inaudible] what have we learned. Is there space we can have our work in? You know? Because I keep seeing "Oh, do you have this tool? Do you have this? Oh we developed it here." But it's still...but at least people are grouping. At least they are forming communities of practice.
Angela Okune 1:14:03
And most of these are grouped around topic? Or how are they grouped?
Like monitoring and evaluation. By discipline. M&E, people who do monitoring and evaluation...
Angela Okune 1:14:15
And most of them that you know, have been trained in what? Like what...?
Angela Okune 1:14:20
Yesterday I saw someone saying monitoring and evaluation has to be like sort of the underbellies of research because they're very...so I think there was also in their mind for most that it's not research they're doing and so he made that note and I was like yeah, this is research we do it. When do a baseline, you're doing a research. It's not...you're framing it "M&E" but it's research! So we are researchers, but I don't feel they identify as researchers. Yeah, I don't think that identity is their identity. Because they will always say "Oh, I'm an M&E." But to me you are doing research, you are dealing with data. So but most of us who are quanti[tative]...
Angela Okune 1:15:10
And you interact with them, because you're coming in as the gender expert or?
As a...to me, and I do consultancy, I'm a researcher. So as a qualitative researcher. Yeah. Today I'll also try and say, who does... just to see is there anyone who is doing qualitative? Do they value that kind of...cuz they are always about tools and frameworks...
Angela Okune 1:15:33
Yeah, I think most of the time, especially in M&E because there's the baseline, the midline, the end-line, it's also about just measuring what has changed what is the impact and usually the gold standard of that is an RCT, randomized control trial, or maybe just a set of like indicators that then you monitor over time. And so often you find that more holistic qualitative work is not...
And it's so problematic because sometimes when you do an evaluation, you're like, what was the story here? What...if we say this changed? What...how are you measuring it? You know? So I've seen also even in how projects touch, there is a bias towards a lot of quanti[tative] data. And I think we don't have...someone told me we don't have very good qualitative researchers in Kenya because it's been very ignored.
Angela Okune 1:16:26
Do you think that's why you don't have good qual[itative] researchers because it's been ignored as something that's important?
Yeah! Because even in the discussions with the students, so I say, you want to do a quali[tative]? The lecturer says "No, if I don't see a quanti[tative] there or mixed study." So that... that's now how it trickles down to projects...how we start projects, which are not very grounded on people. People's experience, people's changing experiences. So it matters. That bias. So today I'll start the conversation on quali[tative] and say so who is a "quanli[tative] researcher here? Who was primarily brought in to do that," you know?
Angela Okune 1:17:15
This is one of the journal clubs?
No this is an M&E group. Someone else runs it but it has professors, it has sort of the "who's who" in M&E. And I want to see if quali[tative] data is something that to them is valid...
Angela Okune 1:17:35
I have learned so much. Thank you so so much.
Thank you too.
AO: This discussion took place at a restaurant selected by the interviewee. We sat in a corner and were the only ones there since the place is usually popular for lunch and dinner. She got a tea and I got a coffee but neither of us thought it was very good. The waitress was in the corner and listening to some videos on her phone loudly so I was slightly distracted by that because I was wondering how much of that would pick on the audio recorder. But in informal debrief afterwards, interviewee said she hadn’t even noticed it because she was so into our conversation. The restaurant was located in Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya. The recorded interview took place on Friday, May 24 from 10:57 AM although we were hanging out from around 10:10 AM – 2:00 PM. The discussion was guided by an amended version of this set of questions, which I had prepared in advance. By this time I had done several interviews using this guide and towards the end of the interview did not stick to the guide very closely (which I found led to many interesting insights). As per the interlocutor's wishes expressed during the consent form process, I anonymized all proper names mentioned in the interview including project names, organization names, personal names. At the time of conducting this interview, I had known the interlocutor for about three months; we had first met in person on February 25 after having been connected by a mutual friend who works at a local university. At that meeting she had mentioned to me: "I am happy you are interviewing me. Usually we just do research and put the gaze on the most poor. I was even saying, why does no one study me."
This transcript is part of a broader essay ("Researching in/from Nairobi") on expectations, values and experiences of those producing qualitiative research data in and about Nairobi as part of Angela Okune's dissertation project.
Angela Okune, 24 May 2019, "TRANSCRIPT: 190524_002 RESEARCHING IN/FROM NAIROBI", contributed by Angela Okune, Research Data Share, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 20 October 2020, accessed 16 September 2021.