SSN Memo

The Importance of Refugee Inclusion in Research Design

Policy field

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Northwestern University

Below is an excerpt from a memo written by Christa  Kuntzelman for SSN in March, 2021


Background United under the rallying call, “nothing about us without us,” refugees have demanded inclusion in global policy and decision-making processes that impact their rights, protections, and provision. Moreover, refugees demand direct representation and participation in the academic research that critically informs governance decisions and humanitarian responses to migration crises. Refugees have reiterated their demands at the regional and international levels- including at the inaugural 2019 Global Refugee Forum held in Geneva, Switzerland and at the 2019 inaugural Africa Refugee Leaders’ Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite their advocacy efforts, refugees remain excluded from meaningful participation in academic and policy research, including in shaping the agenda for this research.

The time is apt to address this. To contextualize the global inequalities in shaping the global research agenda, the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network reviewed authorship trends in two preeminent migration journals. They found that while over 80% of the world’s refugees live in the Global South, scholars from the Global North published over 90% of articles in Journal of Refugee Studies and in the Refugee Studies Quarterly. In the latter, only 4% of articles were solely authored and 7% co-authored by scholars in Global South Institutions. Refugees authored or co-authored very few articles, underscoring the exclusion of refugee voices.