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Researcher's intentionality in knowledge production practices: the case of demographic surveillance systems in West Africa

Nathalie Mondain, Université d'Ottawa
Eric Bologo, Université Catholique de Louvain

Demographic surveillance systems (DSS) imply specific constraints in terms of data collection leading to an increasing weariness by the participants involved. Our hypothesis is that reporting back research findings directly to the participants, and not only to local leaders and decision makers would mitigate this problem. We designed a qualitative fieldwork in four DSS sites in West Africa in order to identify the communicative tools best adapted to make findings accessible to respondents, while taking into account the social and cultural contexts of each DSS site. Our research led us to understand that we were in fact reproducing the same inequalities inherent in research processes typically driven by researchers trained in mainstream methodologies and concepts, which often leads to the production of decontextualized knowledge. This contributes to undermine the objectives for which standardized ethical norms and rules are usually designed, especially regarding the benefits populations might expect from a research.

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Presented in Session 96: Ethical issues in research