Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the project on several levels, PERCEPTIONS research continues to be highly productive. The project’s multi-perspective study design has been adapted to the pandemic situation, additional ethics requirements have been addressed, and the fieldwork has been prepared. Experts provided the consortium with input at the technical review in May 2020.
For PERCEPTIONS Fieldwork, a multi-perspective study design has been defined, specifying research in the 14 research sites in and beyond the European Union. However, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, PERCEPTIONS fieldwork has faced delays. The multi-perspective study design has been adapted accordingly. Furthermore, additional ethics guidelines addressing new requirements due to the changes in fieldwork caused by the pandemic has been defined.
The empirical research will be kicked off by a quantitative survey with practitioners working in the field of migration – policymakers, first-line practitioners, and decision-makers in CSOs and NGOs – across and beyond Europe. Aimed at first-line practitioners of all sectors, from migrant advocacy organisations to border security experts, the survey will be distributed in 14 countries and 11 languages. Aim is to explore perceptions of Europe that these first-line practitioners observe among migrants, how inaccurate information may influence migration in their perception, and the impacts of COVID-19 on the field of migration-related work.
Results from the survey will inform a second iteration later in the project. The results of the first iteration will provide insights into perceptions among migrants and practitioners that will be further explored in interviews and focus groups in the next steps of the fieldwork. With the information gathered across this spectrum of empirical research, PERCEPTIONS will create toolkits and innovative measures to support both migrants and professionals working in the field of migration. The second iteration will focus on best-practice measures and strategies among the same diverse range of first-line practitioners.
How to keep a consortium engaged during a pandemic: Coffee & Reading Meetings
With all face-to-face meetings put on hold for the foreseeable future, the PERCEPTIONS consortium found another way to stay in touch and keep motivation levels high, beyond consortium and work package calls: online Coffee & Reading Meetings. Organised by Swansea University, partners meet regularly with a cup of coffee or tea to discuss relevant research papers, disagree about definitions and learn from each other.
Technical review of the PERCEPTIONS project
Together with experts and members of Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG Home), i.e., the DG for Migration and Home Affairs, FRONTEX and the Research Executive Agency (REA), the consortium presented PERCEPTIONS’ main accomplishments and activities. Further part of the discussion were research-ethical issues, such as anonymity, confidentiality, privacy, data protection, ethics consideration and mitigation measures.
PERCEPTIONS aims to identify narratives, images and perceptions of the EU abroad and to identify how they could influence migration and, possibly, cause threats to both migrants and national security. As such, both qualitative and quantitative empirical research are an inherent part of our project. This includes fieldwork with migrants and experts, as well as an analysis of social media and traditional mass media.
In this context, protection of personal data of the participants involved by the project is of concern, regardless of the country in which the research is put forward. To address the legal and ethical issues associated with the project, the consortium emphasises the importance to ensure privacy and safety to the individuals involved. This includes research ethics such as specific informed consent procedures and a policy for dealing with unintended research findings, as well as considerations during the dissemination of results, taking into consideration possible negative consequences on participants, as stigmatisation, discrimination or intimidation.
The technical review has provided the Consortium with input and constructive feedback on how the project complies with ethical standards and guidelines of the European Union related to privacy and data protection.
Perceptions, narratives, migration, research, fieldwork, survey, interviews, social media analysis, ethics, review