As the aim of our research takes starting point in the implementation of global minority standards, all aspects of minority existence must be in focus. Minority standards are thus not only guiding the research but also seen as a means to identifying areas and situations where minorities are at risk as a result of incompliance. This may be during violent conflicts and in weak states where the rule of law is applied randomly. Yet developed states are also in focus as some remain in denial as to the status of minorities who have lived in their territories for many years. Thus, the interplay between many facets of human existence requires a sophisticated research approach. Our approach is thus multi-dimensional, multi-disciplinary as well as inter-disciplinary and covers a trans-regional space.
The ECMI approach follows a Knowledge Development Process (KDP) that is a process cycle designed to reach the goal of practice-oriented outputs. This is required in order to create the synergy between standards, research and action set out in our Vision Statement and the mandate of the Centre. See Figure 2.
Based on global minority standards, the initial stage of the KDP identifies a topic through preliminary research and policy review. This usually leads to the first creation of knowledge that forms the foundation for further exploration. As this is a critical stage where decisions are made with regard to the viability of the research, external review and input is vital to the further process. External critique is received through the publishing of ECMI Working Papers© and presentation to peers at conferences. Next, relevant comments are incorporated into a research strategy.
During this stage and through the initial external review potential partners and contributors are identified in terms of both internal and external sources, and where relevant the networking begins. During the networking period partners and contributors meet to discuss directly the viability and sustainability of the research strategy. In case of internal research projects, the strategy is scrutinized internally and in co-operation with the ECMI’s Advisory Council. Through joint analysis the research strategy is finalized and, in cases where external funding is required, options for funding are identified. At this stage, a consortium of partners is formed for collaborative projects. The final project proposal and a funding application are prepared in joint co-operation and followed by an appraisal made by members of the ECMI’s Advisory Council or other relevant scholars and colleagues.
During the period from submission of proposal and funding application, members of the ECMI research team prepare and publish Issue Briefs© that alert the general academic community and policy makers to the fact that a new area of research has been identified because it involves issues that have not heretofore been adequately addressed in Minority Studies. During this stage, the preparations for the kick-off and practical implementation of the project also take place.
In general, the implementation stage of our projects follow a classic project cycle for research projects usually adjusted to requirements that may have been set by funding organizations. These may therefore vary from project to project but as a minimum include the traditional Logical Framework areas as well as inception review, detailed schedules and monitoring procedures, risk reduction tools, etc.
During the final stages of a project recommendations are usually defined, and the process of dissemination of these and other results of the project are initiated. Handbooks are prepared in order to create the foundation for the next stage of the ECMI synergy, the action project.
Our research Team in residence covers the main disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities. See the Team at http://www.ecmi.de/people/staff/. In addition, we maintain a wider network of scholars in the area of minority studies who collaborate with us on projects. This network of non-resident Senior Research Associates (SRAN) ensures that the projects we design have access to some of the best and most up-to-date researchers in Europe today. For more information about the individual members, see http://www.ecmi.de/people/non-resident-researchers/. Finally, the ECMI is governed by an Advisory Council consisting of senior scholars who oversee our research and provide cutting-edge advice during project design as well as during project implementation. See the members of the Advisory Council here http://www.ecmi.de/people/board-and-council/.
The geographic reach of the ECMI portfolio comprises all the member states of the Council of Europe. This is an area where as a minimum the adoption of the European Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities is required. Not all member states have signed and ratified the Convention but the ECMI portfolio nevertheless includes all these states. In addition, the ECMI participates in projects in other regions of the world where European minority standards are seen as guiding ongoing standard and norm setting. On the basis of the European minority standards, the ECMI geographic reach is thus global.