Third workshop with representatives from Ukrainian Think Tanks: “Professional Scientific Standards and Policy Analysis”

The workshop “Profes­sional Scien­tific Standards and Policy Analysis”, organized within the framework of the project “Platform for Analytics and Inter­cul­tural Commu­ni­cation” (PAIC) between 12–14 February 2018 in Kyiv. It brought together repre­sen­ta­tives of Ukrainian think tanks and young researchers from Kyiv and the Ukrainian regions to work on research proposals, presen­tation skills, research ethics and to learn about useful software tools.

The third workshop in the series focused more closely on the analytical publi­ca­tions on which the partic­i­pants are working during the course of the project and elabo­rated on four key topics: The first part dealt with academic writing in general and the prepa­ration of research proposals in particular. The second topic was aimed at enhancing presen­tation skills and argumen­tation techniques. The third part intro­duced the partic­i­pants to useful reference management software tools, while the fourth section revolved around quali­tative research designs and quali­tative methods.

After some intro­ductory words by the project leader Ljudmyla Melnyk (IEP, Berlin) and speaker Oksana Huss from the Institute for Advanced Study in the Human­ities (KWI Essen), the first workshop session opened with a discussion about best practices, common mistakes and the general structure of research proposals. Huss elabo­rated in the following units on the objec­tives and content of convincing research proposals and conducted practical exercises in the prepa­ration of proposals.

In the second topical block, Oksana Huss shed light on the principles and the structure of convincing presen­ta­tions of analytical publi­ca­tions. A special focus was set on the devel­opment of a stringent line of argumen­tation in the presen­tation, which later helped to criti­cally review the publi­ca­tions and give constructive feedback in regard to content and structure. The block ended with a compre­hensive practical exercise during which the partic­i­pants presented their own articles and received a thorough review by their peers on the quality of their research in a group discussion.

Sebastian Hoppe, research associate and PhD candidate at the University of Leipzig, presented in the third workshop unit the pros and cons of different reference management tools, namely Citavi and Zotero. Furthermore, he intro­duced different features of the respective software and which one to use for the specific needs of the partic­i­pants’ organi­za­tions. The appli­cation of the reference management instru­ments was put into practice in an exercise to famil­iarize the partic­i­pants with the features of the tools. This unit was met with particular positive resonance as the presented programmes are not in use in Ukrainian univer­sities and liter­ature refer­ences are usually managed manually.

As the partic­i­pants showed strong interest in quali­tative method­ological approaches during the October workshop, Dr. Anna Wetzel, Research Associate at the Centre for European Social Research (MZES) at the University of Mannheim, addressed quali­tative research designs in compliance to their requests. In her session, she elabo­rated on different quali­tative approaches, the design of quali­tative research projects, the selection of cases as well as the processing of large quali­tative data volumes. It is planned to expand the proportion of quali­tative research topics in future workshops.

A positive long-term impact has already become evident. Various aspects from the previous workshop have been utilized by the partic­i­pants: especially partic­i­pants who work at think tanks and univer­sities reported that they conducted workshops on Policy Analysis for their colleagues and students. Others created a corporate design for their email commu­ni­cation, which has been a subject in an earlier workshop, and estab­lished it in their organi­za­tions.

Furthermore, the workshop handouts about Policy Analysis were used as teaching material for a student group at the Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre (ACREC) with the reference to the project PAIC. State-run think tanks also showed interest in cooper­ating within the framework of the project and will be included as an additional target group in future. During the workshops and individual expert talks the idea of devel­oping a Ukrainian handbook on Policy Analysis and Commu­ni­cation of research proposals has been expressed and will be considered.

The partic­i­pants of the workshops now have the oppor­tunity to work on their analytical publi­ca­tions and apply to a study trip to Berlin. Under the scope of the study trip they are given the oppor­tunity to attend the final conference and present their Policy Papers to an expert audience.

The workshop took part within the framework of the project “Platform for Analytics and Inter­cul­tural Commu­ni­cation” (PAIC) which is conducted by Institute for European Politics (IEP, Berlin) in cooper­ation with the Inter­na­tional Renais­sance Foundation (IRF, Kyiv), Ilko Kucheriv Democ­ratic Initia­tives Foundation (DIF, Kyiv) and the think tank initiative think twice UA (Kyiv). The project is supported by the Federal foreign office of Germany in 2017 – 2018.