CRRC Methods Conference: Advancing Methodological Innovations in the South Caucasus

On June 20, 2013 CRRC convened a conference on research methods in Tbilisi that brought together researchers from the South Caucasus and beyond to discuss methodological developments in the social sciences. The conference was attended by over 50 people and the program included 13 presentations of research projects carried out in the region and elsewhere, followed by discussions and Q&A sessions. Interdisciplinary approaches and broad methodological interests motivated a fruitful debate on previous and ongoing research projects -both qualitative and quantitative. Time was also devoted to discussing the policy-relevance of presented studies, as well as the next steps that need to be taken in order to promote high caliber research and to foster rigorous methodological training in the region.

The keynote speech, delivered by Dr. Cynthia Buckley, highlighted the institutional context in which social research is being carried out and results are disseminated. This included a discussion of funding organizations, policy advisory bodies, academic and social research institutes, and the complex network of relations between them. The speech helped participants to focus on methodological advancements, as well as practical applications of the presented studies.
The research projects presented at the conference included a wide range of topics, research designs and used qualitative, quantitative or mixed-method approaches. Several presentations used online and internet-based methods – a promising medium for research in the region since the share of internet users is consistently increasing in the South Caucasus.
The qualitative studies that were discussed highlighted social issues such as interethnic marriage in the South Caucasus, and Armenian diaspora in the region. The quantitative research projects that were presented primarily focused on policy-relevant issues, such as the work ethic in Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey, the prospect of compulsory healthcare insurance in Armenia, and time-based measures for paid and unpaid work, as well as labour force participation. Other areas of particular interest were business and the accuracy of economic performance estimations.

This 2013 conference begins a cycle of annual conferences that will address methodological challenges, data collection techniques, and developments in social science research carried out in the South Caucasus.
For more information on the conference and this year’s presentations, please see the conference programme and draft papers available on the CRRC website.