Since its establishment in 2008, Qatar University’s (QU) Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) has completed over 100 high quality research projects on various issues that fall within the scope of the institute’s competence, as well as within the national priorities for scientific research, and serve decision-makers and policy-makers in various sectors.
The research projects included several areas regarding the importance to Qatari society, including issues of work and employment, modernity and changes in social values, as well as issues of education, health, family structure, the influence of the media, and others.
In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Director of SESRI Dr Kaltham al-Ghanim said that these projects resulted in qualitative data and trends on the social, economic and cultural attitudes and values in the country. She added that the outputs of these researches are made use of at the institutional level in making and rationalising policies and at the level of researchers, as it enables them to employ them in their research and in the investigation of new research issues.
Dr al-Ghanim pointed out that since SESRI’s establishment in 2008, one of its biggest achievements has been setting high-quality standards for survey research in Qatar. She said the institute has become one of the leading institutions for survey research in the State, and that it played an active role in the quality and efficiency of scientific research and building national research capabilities when working on survey research.
She pointed out that researchers at SESRI have received many grants from the Qatar National Research Fund for a variety of projects, including grants from the National Priorities Research Programme (NPRP), which enabled them to implement research projects that are the first of their kind in Qatar as the Arab Democracy Index, the survey project on Qatari youth, in addition to other projects such as using mobile media applications and obtaining other grants such as the Family Grant.
She stated that the research activities are based on the national needs of Qatar in light of the Second National Development Plan 2018-2022 and Qatar National Vision 2030. They encompass a wide range of core areas of importance to Qatari society, including economics, work and employment, modernity and shifts in social values, education, health, family structure, and the influence of social and traditional media. The institute also participates in many international and regional survey projects.
Regarding the strategy of SESRI, Dr al-Ghanim emphasised that its most important strategies are to promote experimental social sciences, support the policy-making process based on facts, and enhance community awareness of the issues and challenges facing Qatar, as well as seeking to enhance the institutional effectiveness of the institute.
She said that this strategy is based on main objectives, which are producing high-quality research in the field of socioeconomic survey and applied studies, enhancing the presence of Qatar regionally and globally in this field, disseminating high-quality data on the Qatari community, and supporting students and faculty members at QU in these research areas, and to enhance public awareness of the value and importance of participating in them.
On the most prominent current research priorities and future projects for the years 2021-2022, Dr al-Ghanim said that the research priorities correspond to a set of topics related to those of Qatar University in social sciences and human sciences, such as social change, identity, extremism issues, economic diversity, population, migration and labour force, urbanisation, sustainable development, family and youth, national security, education, etc.
The institute conducts many surveys related to those fields and axes, such as surveys in the field of family, public opinion, population, immigration and the workforce, in addition to other research priorities related to mental health and sustainable development, she added.
Among the other priorities that the institute seeks to achieve is preparing a generation of Qatari researchers in the field of survey and applied studies, she said, noting that the institution has many initiatives in that area, such as the survey clinic to develop the research skills of Qatar University employees, and the part-time employment of students to participate in research projects, in addition to other training programs.
The Director of SESRI pointed out that among the most prominent future research projects for 2021-2022 in managing policies is the Youth Empowerment programme, which covers education and the labour market, the project of studying orientations and behaviours related to climate change, the family cohesion and child welfare project, and the project of food security and institutional waste management in the country.
Responding to a question regarding the institution’s interaction with the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr al-Ghanim said that SESRI carried out a quick survey on Covid-19, and focused on the extent of the society’s awareness of the virus and its potential repercussions, in addition to a research project on Covid-19 in Qatar, its risks, behavioural responses and adherence to precautionary measures, and another research study on mental health during the pandemic.
On research co-operation, she said that SESRI has many agreements with local and international ministries and institutions, to enhance and encourage research activities in social science on the local and international levels.
She explained that the institute carried out a set of survey-like researches that meet the country’s needs for information in specific areas, on the local level, adding that there are other ongoing projects, including the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), and the Agricultural Census project in co-operation with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment.
At the international level, Dr al-Ghanim said that the institute is co-operating with many foreign universities and organisations on various joint research projects.
She noted that SESRI had previously co-operated with many different universities in USA, UK, Italy and Netherlands, adding that the institution is currently co-operating with Harvard University in USA, as well as the universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Leeds in UK, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and Michigan University on one of the current projects that are funded by HMC, which is the World Mental Health project (WMH).
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