Hybrid Interactive Training

Applied Research Methods with Hidden, Marginal and Excluded Populations

  23-27 August 2021 – One week, full time course (35 h)

  9:30-13:00 and 14:00-17:30 (class times)

While the Applied Research course cannot run in its traditional format this year, we are able to offer this course in a live, interactive format that combines online and real-life exercises.  We hope this will provide many of you with the opportunity to continue your training this coming summer.

The course will run for the duration of the time period originally advertised. The Hybrid training format will combine training and real-life application of all the presented research methods at the location of students. The timings of course will take place during morning and afternoon London UK time. Students are expected to be available full time. Active implementation of methods will be concentrated during the morning session;  afternoon will be more focused on online training,

We will conduct the lecture sessions via the video conferencing software Zoom. Participants must have access to appropriate computing facilities as well as a reliable internet connection to enable full participation in the online sessions.

To maintain as much of the spirit of the traditional experience as possible, sharing between practitioner and academic researchers, we will include activities to facilitate interaction and collaboration among participants. These will include research presentations from students as well as joint simulation and real-life exercises.

The course aims to enable participants to undertake empirical research with marginal and hidden populations, and seeks to encourage participants to develop methodological strategies for the collection and analysis of such data.

The course will provide tools to address key issues such as the lack of known sampling frame, the difficulties in reaching the target group; the concepts of impact, attribution and contribution; and the political dimension of research findings. The course explores topics such as basic and advanced estimation and sampling techniques; participatory research; evidence-based policy versus policy-based evidence; innovation, crowdsourcing and the use of technology; the art of combining qualitative and quantitative methods; and ethical considerations arising when conducting research with hidden and marginalized populations. It covers quantitative techniques such as adaptive cluster sampling, capture and recapture, RDS (Respondent Driven Sampling), network analysis, as well as participatory research methods.

Basic knowledge in research methods and design. An interest in the topic and some practical research experience, or an acquaintance with applied research, would be helpful. Take the online course on Research Ethics prior the beginning of the course.

This intensive full time course is structured in morning and afternoon sessions. Participants will be encouraged to present their past/ongoing/future work to be used and discussed during the course. Combining both taught and practical sessions, the main emphasis of the course is on acquiring practical skills in doing research.

A copy of all the articles in the bibliography will be provided during the course.

The following is a provisional structure of the course and it will be adapted according to participants’ needs and capacity.


1.1 – Hard to reach populations:

  • concepts, definitions, data collection implications

1.2 – Applied research and basic research:

  • linkages, opposition, challenges and opportunities

1.3 – Evidence-Based Policy vs Policy-Based Evidence

1.4 – How to research hard-to-reach populations: objectives, strategies, expectations

Research methods: Impact drawing surveys and questionnaires design (introduction), on-line (web) data collection; stakeholders analysis.


2.1 – The quest of assessing the magnitude: sampling and estimating hard-to-reach populations

  • Guesstimate and scientific estimation; random and purposive sampling;
  • Cluster sampling;
  • Adaptive cluster sampling;
  • Time location sampling;
  • Capture and recapture;
  • Respondent Driven Sampling RDS (intro);
  • Social network analysis applied to hard-to-reach populations (introduction).

2.2 – Case study: The Politics of Numbers

  • Cases: Estimating refugee and displaced population;
  • Estimating civilian casualties in wars: the struggle between statistics and politics.

3.1 – Participatory research

  • Participatory research methods;
  • Rapid assessment;
  • KAP (Knowledge Attitude and Practice);
  • Positive deviance.

Applied methods for participatory research: e.g timeline, chapati (Venn) diagrams; transect walk; wealth ranking; seasonal calendar; community mapping.

4.1 – Innovation and the use of technology: SMS, crowd sourcing and mapping

  • Using SMS and mobile phones for research and data collection.
  • Crowdsourcing and mapping (introduction).

4.2 – Ethical consideration in doing research with marginal population


5.1 – Combining research methods

Students will use all the techniques presented during the course in a real case.

Academic – £1,000.00

Commercial – £1,300.00

The fee does not include accommodation, food or travel costs, but all essential material for the course.

Andrea Rossi

Senior Advisor on Social Policy and Economic Analysis for the United Nations in East Asia

Andrea Rossi is the former Director of the Harvard Measurement and Human Rights Programme at Harvard Kennedy School of Government (USA) and currently works as Senior Advisor on Social Policy and Economic Analysis for the United Nations in East Asia. Previously he worked in Mozambique, Nepal, New York and a research coordinator at the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center. He is an economist with a particular focus on development and applied research. He coordinated research projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe, as well as developing specific research methodologies on children’s issues. He has previously worked for the International Labour Organization in the East Africa Area Office, Tanzania where he was in charge of research and statistics. His main areas of interest are applied research methodology; combining qualitative and quantitative methods; applied micro econometrics; and participatory approaches. He has conducted research on human rights, child labour and child trafficking, prostitution, homeless people, illegal migrants, refugees and displaced people. He has been teaching Research Methods with Hidden ad Marginal Populations for more than 15  years at the Essex School of Social Sciences Data Analysis,  at the World Bank International Development Evaluation Training, at the University of Milan, and with the United Nations.

Applying for the course

Course fully booked


For queries related to the event, please contact Melanie Sawers at melanie.sawers@nuffield.ox.ac.uk.