Collaborating on Data: An ethnography of qualitative research data in Nairobi
This doctoral research project examines how qualitative research data is produced, shared, and contested by diverse research groups in Nairobi, Kenya. Despite decades of research aiming to solve Africa’s problems and billions of dollars in funding, many of those who are studied see little change in their everyday lives. Particular communities such as groups in Kibera, an infamous slum in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, demonstrate survey fatigue, falsified responses, and even feelings of being exploited by global processes of scientific knowledge production. Through a comparative study of three Nairobi-based research organizations working in and on technology and development, I will examine the negotiations over privacy, quality, commercialization, and moral duty enacted by the process of opening up qualitative research data. This research will analyze the changing ideas about data sharing among social scientists in Africa, responding both to increasing concern that scientific knowledge is not benefiting the communities studied and to growing, global interest in the possible benefits of “open data.”
AO: This research project description is intended to give context on why these literatures are being investigated.