This framing allowed both parties to negotiate a collaborative agreement, or group contract, that laid the foundations of the partnership by clearly defining each other’s expectations, roles, and responsibilities. We negotiated the terms of this agreement in a six-day capacity development workshop, in which we trained the researchers on key research skills including interviewing, coordination and notetaking. Moreover, we facilitated a discussion in which the researchers identified the topic of enquiry, the target groups, locations and sample criteria.
Collecting data and beyond
Recruitment, training, and expectation setting done, we started collecting data related to people’s experiences of being exposed to online harassment and their reporting patterns. The researchers interviewed members of their local communities, gradually building a collection of stories that included key information, such as when and where the incident took place, how it made the person on the receiving end feel, who was involved, and the consequences.
In keeping with our commitment to upskill the researchers, we held debriefing sessions with each of them after their interviews. As the data came in, the debriefings allowed us to quickly identify the key issues that kept on being raised and collaboratively “induct,” or narrow down, the previously agreed upon research topic. The debriefings also meant that we were able to systematically keep track of the obstacles to involving the hardest to reach populations in the research, and then work together on plans to include them.
For the researchers, the debriefings additionally provided a safe space to ask questions, take ownership of their learning, and “decompress” after interviews on sensitive subjects. As one researcher told us: “During the data collection, I initially wondered why we needed to do debriefings … but it was actually really good because you see your mistakes, how to increase your strengths and reduce your weaknesses. Also, it affects me when I see someone hurt [by cybercrime]. The debriefings created a chance to get out whatever’s inside, and discuss it.”