We, at CPAR Uganda, are privileged to work closely with Dr. Ben Jones, a lecturer in development studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA). For a two year period 2021 to 2023, Dr. Jones is the Principal Investigator for our research and policy advocacy project: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda;” a project which we are implementing in partnership with UEA.
Dr. Ben Jones (centre) in the field with Stella Rose Aguti (left) and Jimmy Ezra Okello (left), two of our young innovators in mentorship who are benefiting from working alongside Dr. Jones as his research assistants. Photo @ UEA
Observing Dr. Jones do fieldwork in an extraordinary manner, which is not the norm among Ugandan academics, is refreshing. He is actually out there, deep in a rural setting, living there in humble abode, blending in and doing hands-on data collection, working side by side with his research assistants, young innovators whom he is at the same time mentoring.
For me, a budding academic who is revisiting my desire to restart and to pursue studies for an award of a Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD), Dr. Jones is an inspiration. He has made be believe again that I can do it simply, albeit with hard work.
I believe, as well, that our young innovators under my mentorship, under our CPAR Uganda project: “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators Against Poverty,” are benefiting to the maximum from Dr. Jones. They are working alongside him in the field as his research assistants.
Dr. Jones has completely demystified academic research for us. And I am confident that the findings of our Challenging Categories project shall be positive-impact filled as those from Dr. Jones’ previous work.
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Such as, for example, Dr. Jones’ research findings on which his book: “Beyond the state in rural Uganda” is based.
Beyond the state in rural Uganda, by Ben Jones, is “a refreshing and original antidote to the myopic habits of conventional scholarship … (an) illuminating, astute, against-the-grain study of real-existing development.”James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University
By Ms. Norah Owaraga, Managing Director
5 responses to “Research brings positive impact on daily lives”
Working with Dr. Ben Jones on the Challenging Categories research project has improved on my social life with my community of Ireda Parish. This is because as we do data collection, I have developed friendship with the people I didn’t know. I am also getting business ideas from the people we have interviewed from looking at the type of business they are doing; the challenges that they faced; and how they have solved them.
I used to know research to be the most difficult thing to do. Other people used questionnaires that were so direct investigating into someone’s personal life. This is so hard for some people who may not feel comfortable discussing issues concerning their lives to people who are not familiar to them. This can make the content of the research to lack a lot of information. In this short period I have participated in the the Challenging Categories project, under the supervision of Dr Ben Jones, I have learnt so many ways one can come collect data – like mapping, observation and hanging out. All these ways have simplified our work and I now know that research does not have to be the most difficult thing to do.
I graduated from University, where I also carried research as a University requirement to be awarded a bachelor’s degree, but I never understood the research concept at all. This made me to be biased about anything related to research. I used to treat it like a foreign body. But for the time I have been with Dr. Ben Jones, as a research assistant, I am getting to know the best techniques of data collection, like participant observation. In this approach, I learnt to be simple, friendly and use psychology to get quality data from the reliable source.
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While I was at Kyambogo University, I used to look at research as one of the most complicated and difficult papers. After my graduation, l did not look at doing or applying for the job of research assistant as a priority. I would ignore it. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with Dr Ben Jones on the Challenging Categories Project – it is a great learning experience. I learnt various ways to collect data rather than just depending on questionnaire as it was the case in my University. I am really happy that Dr Jones has reprogrammed my mindset and made research more relaxed and very interesting. l look forward to learning more and more from him.
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I have learnt new things about research from the research activities going on under “challenging categories”. Previously, I know of data collection as being mainly using questionaires but with ethnographic study things are different. Here am learning about getting concrete (detail) data from the field through the mentorship of Dr Jones. Through the research, I can now understand how young people work, relate, share information, in areas of church, clan, village savings groups (VLSA), and many more. I still hope to learn more as we (the innovators) are now going to the stage of literature review with reading selected articles.
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