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The Right Toolkit: Applying Research Methods in the Service of Human Rights

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

What methods can best help student researchers expose, examine, and analyze violations of human rightsand their consequences? How can student researchers acquire these skills? And what are the ethical implicationsof human rights research and advocacy?

This guidebook aims to answer these questions. Encompassing a wide range of methods, the guidebookencourages students to transcend disciplinary and professional divides and explore new techniquesto strengthen their research design and implementation. It invites readers to broaden their understandingof available methods and consider the best approach for their own research objectives. It also provides resourcesfor further study. The guidebook is specifically designed to guide human rights fellows but can alsobe used by other students planning to undertake human rights-related research in the field.

This guidebook covers quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods. To determine which methodsto prioritize, the authors contacted eighty-three human rights practitioners to learn which methods theymost frequently employed to address human rights problems. Based upon the results of this survey, theguidebook covers fourteen different research methods, tools and approaches.1 Each section contains a briefdescription of a particular research method, an analysis of its advantages and limitations, reference materials,and a selection of resources explaining how to use the particular method and demonstrating its applicationin practice. This information is intended to help students select the appropriate methods to achievetheir own research objectives.

The guidebook is a primer on methods used in human rights research. It is not intended as a substitutefor instructional books on research design and methodology. Rather, it offers a cursory overview ofvarious methods as a point of embarkation and cultivation of student interest in researching human rightsproblems. Researchers planning to use any of the methods outlined in this guidebook are advised to readadditional works, including those listed under references and selected resources, for the selected method.The text of this primer is ordered to reflect the popularity of the research methods among human rightsprofessionals affiliated with non-governmental organizations and universities (hereafter described as professionals)and human rights fellows who took part in our study; the more popular methods are describedfirst, in greater detail, and with more references in comparison to less common methods.

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