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Meet the 2020 #ResearchforChange Grant Recipients

We are excited and thankful to have received so many amazing MAXQDA Research Grant applications this year! It has been wonderful to see that so much research being done that aims to study, bring awareness to, and contribute to empowerment initiatives aligned with one of VERBI Software’s core company values. We have been so inspired by your sustainability and sustainable development-based projects!

Global Nature FundIn line with this semester’s theme, we at VERBI Software have partnered with the Global Nature Fund (GNF) for this year’s #ResearchforChange Grant. GNF is a non-profit, private, independent international foundation that works to support the protection of environment and nature.
For further information and/or to donate, please visit their website here:

Global Nature Fund

The MAXQDA Research Grants Selection Committee announces the 2020 #ResearchforChange Grant recipients: 

MAXQDA Grant Recipients 2020

Though we set out to choose only 3 winners this year, we simply had too many excellent applications and have decided to once again award four student-researchers the #ResearchforChange Grant. Including the grant for the GNF, that makes the 2020 #ResearchforChange Grant the biggest MAXQDA Research Grants initiative to date! Congratulations to Bruno Miguel de Jesus Cardoso, Sara Aly El-Sayed, Andreas Holzinger, and Brittany Jones!

Bruno Miguel de Jesus Cardoso – “Energy consumption in the Portuguese water sector: benchmarking, barriers and driving forces to energy efficiency”

grant recipient Bruno Miguel de Jesus Cardoso

Bruno Miguel de Jesus Cardoso is a Ph.D. Student in Sustainable Energy Systems at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. His research project titled “Energy consumption in the Portuguese water sector: benchmarking, barriers and driving forces to energy efficiency” will begin in September 2020 in Lisbon, Porto & Coimbra, Portugal.

After his traineeship in a large Portuguese water utility, Cardoso realized that the water sector in Portugal has been neglected in matters concerning energy consumption. Despite all efforts, the energy consumption has not been reduced, partly because this sector is internally resistant to change.

Hence Cardoso’s research project is literally “Research for Change”. He writes, “Research for Change represents for me more than a grant, it is an incentive, a help to reach another level of my goal, because, if I am considered, it will attest that my work has value and can make a difference to society.”

The aim of the research project is to investigate which barriers, according to various stakeholders, forestall energy efficiency in the water sector from being fully exploited. For this purpose, Cardoso will implement several different research methods: he will start with an extensive literature review, then use an online questionnaire with three sections and, finally, conduct semi-structured interviews with the utilities’ employees.

The research implements both quantitative and qualitative data, making MAXQDA, a leader in mixed methods research software, the perfect fit for his project. In the first step, the quantitative data (for example, the closed questions from the questionnaire) will be analyzed using MAXQDA’s Stats module. In the second step, the data from the open-ended survey questions will be coded according to the addressed themes. The emerging data will be visualized with the help of such tools as the Interactive Word Tree and Code Map functions. According to Cardoso, MAXQDA’s MAXDictio module will also be employed to “look for relationships between themes and draw conclusions about possible opinion trends”.

We are happy to support Mr. Cardoso’s research and were very impressed with his understanding of the #ResearchforChange mission. His thorough approach and extensive fieldwork goals can make this research project a potential game-changer in Portugal. We cannot wait to learn more in Mr. Cardoso’s first Fieldwork Diary Entry coming soon, right here in the MAXQDA Research Blog!

Sara Aly El-Sayed – “Honoring Regenerative Practices in Arid Regions”

grant recipient Sara Aly El-Sayed

Sara Aly El-Sayed is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sustainability at Arizona State University, USA. Her research project titled “Honoring Regenerative Practices in Arid Regions” will begin in September 2020 in the Southwest, USA, including Hopi reservation, Ajo, Phoenix & Snowflake, Arizona.

El-Sayed’s research project is dedicated to the regenerative food systems and practices experienced and created by women in arid regions of the Southwest of the United States and North Africa. El-Sayed aims to “showcase the different methods that women employ in creating regenerative and sustainable food systems, and thus empower these women to show what distinguishes them from their male counterparts”.

El-Sayed’s motivation is rooted in her work experience. She co-founded both Nawaya, a social enterprise working as a catalyst to transition small-scale farmer communities in Egypt into more sustainable ones through education, and research and Dayma, an LLC responsible for outdoor Environmental Education, teaching young adults about Biomimicry and local Egyptian communities. These experiences have helped El-Sayed research and she states, “I strongly believe in the power and agency of women to create positive impacts in their community”.

A truly unique feature of El-Sayed’s fieldwork is her planned implementation of arts-based methodology in her research. During her baseline semi-structured interviews with 20 women, she will include several art tools such as drawing pallets, improvisation games, visualization exercises. In the next step, El-Sayed will conduct in-depth semi-structured interviews and film representative practices of women’s work that will be later edited into short practice videos.

MAXQDA will be implemented throughout the whole research, starting with the literature review and up to the last portion of the interview video analysis. Furthermore, El-Sayed highlights that some of the interviews will be conducted in English and some in Arabic and, therefore, she will need a software that can handle multiple languages in the same project as well as allow the researcher to code in the original language as well. As MAXQDA supports Unicode, it is a perfect tool for that task!

We are impressed with not only Ms. El-Sayed’s vast work experience but also her ability to combine her practical knowledge with her research. We believe that this combination makes her research innovative, unique, and full of potential to create long-lasting impacts – it is truly an embodiment of the #ResearchforChange goals. We are looking forward to learning more about her research and other projects and hope that you will check them out as well! 

Andreas Holzinger – “Peacebuilding in West Africa”

grant recipient Andreas Holzinger

Andreas Holzinger is a Ph.D. Student in Political Science at the Helmut Schmidt University, Germany. His research project titled “Peacebuilding in West Africa” started in January 2020 in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau.

Not only a student-researcher but also a sustainable development practitioner, Holzinger works as a social inclusion and cohesion advisor, focusing on intercultural research and action research with a systematic, fair, and impactful research approach. He has been living and working in Guinea-Bissau, a so-called ‘fragile state’ in West Africa that has experienced political instability over the past decades.

Holzinger’s research is currently underway and he has begun collecting interview data from decision-makers in the public and third sector, as well as from external actors, to answer his research question on how people-centered these external actors have coined their peace efforts. Holzinger believes that because:

  1. international donors have disengaged,
  2. the cashew-economy faces challenges in COVID-19 response scenarios, and
  3. the United Nations Security Council-mandated peace operation departure is imminent,

now is the time to analyze the perception of external actors and their effect on the peace processes in Bissau. His research has been described as cutting-edge and of the utmost importance to the understanding of peacebuilding approaches by local actors in the country and it is believed that such a study will contribute to “the better understanding of how to overcome fragility and attain sustained peace drawing from the experience of Guinea-Bissau”.

Holzinger is taking a mixed methods approach with MAXQDA, combining expert interviews from the UN mission, the EU Delegation, regional bodies like ECOWAS, and civil society actors with a survey with the Bissau-Guinean population on their perception of the external actors. He will use MAXQDA to systematically develop categories from his interviews to influence the survey design and allow for a cross-analysis of the two datasets.

Mr. Holzinger’s research is embedded in the conceptual frameworks of human security and subsidiarity, making it a great fit for this semester’s sustainable development theme. We were highly impressed by his commitment to integrating a large portion of the community and found his ambitious goals deserving of our support!

Brittany D. Jones – “Empowerment through Consumption: Land Banks, Land Ownership, and Black Food Geographies”

grant recipient Brittany D. Jones

Brittany D. Jones is a Ph.D. Candidate in Spatially Integrated Social Sciences at the University of Toledo, USA. Her research project titled “Empowerment through Consumption: Land Banks, Land Ownership, and Black Food Geographies” will begin in August 2020 in Toledo & Dayton, Ohio, United States.

Jones’ Ph.D. project focuses on the Black urban agriculturalist experience and Black foodways within two Legacy City Ohio cities (cities that underwent major population and economic loss after the decline of manufacturing). The research will identify sociodemographic and economic factors correlated with high urban land vacancy rates and barriers that inhibit the growth of community-led urban agriculture. It will also add to the literature concerning the revived food movement of African-Americans and the relationship with urban agriculture in these areas. Additionally, it will examine “the barriers Land Banks create through racial capitalistic land transfer programs that slow progressive urban food governance towards food sovereignty”.

In her very personal application, Jones wrote about how it was first after learning about food systems planning in her Masters’ studies that she fully understood the systematic nutrition problems of the environment that she grew up in. For her, “Research for Change means more than just finding solutions to a complex problem, but embodies the [grassroots] efforts of providing resources and realistic methods that can be easily replicated and adapted, all the while acknowledging cultural differences/expectations, which is crucial to long-term change.”

Jones has chosen Toledo and Dayton as two main destinations of her fieldwork because they represent two of many large Ohio metropolitan areas that attracted African-Americans to relocate in the first wave of The Great Migration after slavery. In her research, Jones will implement the theories of collective agency and community resilience (CACR) and racial capitalism, as well as a spectrum of research methods ranging from participant observation to narrative evidence (interviews, oral histories, etc.).

The qualitative data will be coded and analyzed in MAXQDA, as part of her mixed-methods approach. She will use Computer-Aided Qualitative Geographic Information Systems (CAQ-GIS) , where both geographical science information (GIS) and the qualitative capabilities of MAXQDA combine to create a synergy of integrated data interpretation through ArcGIS. Jones states, “MAXQDA Analytics Pro will not only serve as a way to transcribe and code my primary and secondary data but will provide the statistical analysis and interpretation of emerging themes as common ideals and values shared by residents within these two cities, especially concerning Black food geographies and land ownership.”

We were greatly impacted by Mrs. Jones’ story and how her life history has inspired her to pursue Food System and Sovereignty studies. With her project, she aims to uncover racialized hypocrisies embedded within both the local and global food system, which is now as relevant as ever. Mrs. Jones is a first-generation Ph.D. student in her family, and we are glad to be able to support her!


Stay tuned for their Fieldwork Diary Entries coming soon – right here in the MAXQDA Research Blog

As always, you will be able to follow each of these talented students along their research journeys through their Fieldwork Diary Entries. Make sure to also follow the MAXQDA social media platforms (@VerbiSoftware @MAXQDA) to see the grant recipients’ fieldwork photographs and search posts about this semester’s grant using the hashtags #ResearchforChange and #MAXQDAResearchGrants. 

Meet the previous MAXQDA Research Grant recipients:


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