From April 15 to 21, 2019 in Almaty, with the support of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), I had a good opportunity to become one of the program participants for young analysts as part of the School of Analysts cabar.asia. The uniqueness of this program was to create an information and analytical platform to highlight and offer solutions to regional problems using new approaches and analysis methods.
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The first day of the program was introductory for all participants. The participants’ introductions of their professional experience and their interest in analytic activity gave impetus to the development of common interests and the expansion of new professional ties at the regional level. All training of the day was focused on ensuring that participants got a clear understanding of the main methods and approaches to write analytical articles in accordance with the requirements of cabar.asia.
The second half of the day included an interactive game with the use of unique, unusual methods of analytical thinking. The day ended with informative presentations on the types of analytical articles of the academic level and on the process of conducting expert analytics for decision-making.
The next day the participants were given an opportunity to gradually study the following questions: why is it necessary to structure an academic article, how to formulate the title of the topic and raise the right point, and how to effectively select and apply appropriate analysis methods.
Based on the gained knowledge, we reviewed the study in detail, where several research methods were simultaneously used. In my opinion, the most interesting method was to build a sequence of events, thanks to which it was possible to determine the main trends of events and subsequently develop forecasts and scenarios for the development of the situation.
The invited guests also shared their rich experience in working with analytical materials and reports in various scopes of activity. As a result, a clear understanding emerged that, different approaches and formats are required for writing an analytical document for different institutions.
The third day was full of multi-format events, starting with lectures with practical exercises, holding a round table on why and how analytical articles influence decision making. All people differ in terms of interests, preferences and their professional experience. Therefore, it becomes art or really hard work for experts, analysts, and decision-makers to draw their attention to the problem and its solution.
Training on writing articles for online publications was interestingly presented in terms of the relevance of the problem, its understanding and the ability to offer effective methods for its solutions. Additionally, there was held a round table during the day, raising questions about the possibilities for developing joint research in Central Asia. I spoke there as a participant. In my opinion, holding such round tables and meetings is a good indicator, showing the need for the development of scientific and expert cooperation in Central Asia.
In the afternoon, we reviewed several case studies using the example of Central Asian countries to study specific features and problems, as well as how analytical articles and materials are studied during the preparation process and are further promoted. The more people read or leave their opinions about the article in online publications, the more likely the problem will be explored and partially or fully solved by decision makers.
During the fourth day, all participants were involved in the work on fake news. Before this training, I was absolutely sure that news from official television channels is quite reliable and can be good sources for reference. However, in the course of the training, I was just amazed when we applied the methods proposed by the trainers to identify unreliable information. They themselves referred to other sources that did not confirm the grounds and relevance of the set problem.
During this session, we were given various kinds of news (TV news) for practice, which had to be rechecked from other sources. This technique and the process itself were fascinating and informative for the future analyst. By the end of the day, we got acquainted with the new methods of analysis, referring to the Internet applications that can be used in sociological and marketing researches.
There was continued training on working with Google forms in the first half of the fifth day of the School of Analytics. I often filled out different formats of questionnaires before that but it was not possible to independently make questionnaires in online mode using Google-forms applications. In the study process, I realized that each raised question requires detailed processing and testing so that questions can have a logical connection and lead the respondent to adequate perception and reliable data at the end.
The next lecture on the work of think tanks in developed countries, in particular, the Norwegian Institute of International Relations, was very informative in terms of the structural approach to developing and writing both analytical and academic materials. In order to fully understand the use of analysis methods by the Norwegian Institute, participants were given a practical task, which included the use of “snowball” method (the method is based on the fact that almost every target group representative can name one or more people who are in this group).
Following the results of assignments, the participants learned, to make assumptions about future scenarios, taking into account many uncertainties and the occurrence of unforeseen situations, basing on existing regional processes in Central Asian countries.
The most interesting, informative and entertaining awaited us on Saturday, on the sixth day of the School of Analytics, when we started working with data. At present, the data processing and, moreover, its visualization in a format that provides data information in an intelligible, easy, clear and beautiful way; it is a necessary and important component in the preparation and writing of analytical materials.
Therefore, the capabilities and expectations of the analyst in our digital world are enormous and real if he or she uses different methods of processing, visualizing and analyzing data using such innovative online tools as Datawrapper, Flourish, Google Datastudio, and others. Thanks to the acquired knowledge and skills in the program for analysts, I will be able to develop and produce new analytical products that will have increased public interest. The addressed issues and recommendations for solving them will be accepted and effective.
At the end of the Program on the seventh day, on Sunday, we met with professional experts in various scopes of activity who often work with analytical materials. In their opinion, to become an expert in a certain direction, a comprehensive and multidisciplinary experience in various organizations is required; starting from the state institutions and completing academic activities. This is one of the fundamental factors for building analytical capacity.
Understanding and observing the problem from different points (historical, social) and levels (local, regional) gives direction for the formation of a clear position to determine effective ways to solve the problem. Currently, the problems that arose in the past tend to recur with a subsequent level of effects. Therefore, the lecture of Elmira Nogoibayeva about the problem understanding through a critical study of the historical moments of the state, society and the individual, in particular, made a great impression on me personally.