Always the Ideal? Exploring the Risks of Refugee Participation in Research




participation, refugee, research, methods, humanitarian


Researchers in humanitarian settings increasingly encourage refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to participate within broader research processes, beyond solely providing data. However, efforts to increase participation in research may be tokenistic, complicated by the challenges present in humanitarian settings. The assumption that more participation is always good has meant sometimes limited reflection occurs on the challenges associated with such participation. This study explores the possibilities and realities for refugee and IDP participation in research based on interviews with practitioners and academics who conduct participatory research with refugees and IDPs. It discusses lack of consensus in defining participation and explores five risks of participation that challenge the assumption that participation is always desirable and appropriate.


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Author Biographies

Michelle Lokot, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Michelle Lokot is an Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She can be reached at

Iram Hashmi, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Iram Hashmi is a doctoral student at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She can be reached at

Erin Hartman, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Erin A. Hartman is a Research Fellow and PhD Candidate at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She can be reached at

Thurayya Zreik, Independent consultant

Thurayya Zreik is an independent consultant. She can be reached at

Caitlin Wake, Independent Consultant and Research Associate, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI

Caitlin Wake is an independent consultant and Research Associate at the Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI. She can be reached at


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How to Cite

Lokot, M., Hashmi, I., Hartman, E., Zreik, T., & Wake, C. (2024). Always the Ideal? Exploring the Risks of Refugee Participation in Research. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 40(1), 1–15.

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