Local Research for Better Lives

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The Unnayan Bhabna was part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program in the period 2014-2016 generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Their assessment found that the Government of Bangladesh does not have any clear policy or framework for social science research. Social science research is being quite isolated from the political agenda of the country at present compared to the period before independence, where it had considerable status and tremendous macro impacts for creating socio-political changes. Social science in Bangladesh is also dominated by international donors. Considering the low level of capacity and low funding levels for research in (public) universities, most of the faculties do not engage routinely in research; rather they prefer to deliver lectures in non-public universities. Below, you will find the link to the full access of the report.

Studies and publications

  • Results of the Doing Research Pilot

The implementation of the Doing Research (DR) program in Bolivia has spanned over two phases. The pilot phase, carried out between April 2014 and April 2016 and generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, involved a comparative study of three Latin American countries, namely Bolivia (through the ARU Foundation), Paraguay (through the Center of Analysis and Dissemination of the Paraguayan Economy - CADEP), and Peru (through the Group for Analysis of Development - GRADE). The comparative study found that all three countries are dominated by instrumentalist approaches to social research production, where social science is predominantly commissioned and used to support specific political projects. In this context, the possibility of developing critical and independent social sciences – apt for identifying and problematizing social issues and not just limited to answering top-down agendas dictated by the state or by international donors – is considerably weak.

The second phase (proof of concept & scale-up - financed from GDN core funds) involved the Doing Research Assessment (DRA) in the period 2018-2021 which was implemented by the Center for the Studies of Social and Economic Realities (CERES). The DRA is considered the first systematic analysis carried out in Bolivia to better understand current research practices and policies. The assessment found that, with the exception of a few and somewhat isolated efforts to generate empirical evidence, research dissemination and the research-policy interactions in Bolivia is limited. There are some research centres that are part of regional networks such as the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO), and which aim to foster knowledge generation and uptake, but initiatives of this nature need to be more efficiently consolidated in order to stimulate change. Activities associated in the two phases in Bolivia have produced two reports, one book chapter, two webinars – national and international, a blog article published in Research to Action, and a working paper initially presented at the OECD International Conference on “The Transformation of Research in the South: policies and outcomes” in Paris, France. Below, you will find the link to all these outputs.

Studies and publications

Webinars

  • 8 Dec 2020 | Webinar: De la investigación a la política. The national webinar for dissemination of the results of the Doing Research Assessment in Bolivia.
  • 1 Dec 2020 | Boosting social science research in Bolivia. An international webinar based on the results of the Doing Research Assessment in Bolivia. Know more.

Presence in Conferences

  • 21-22 January 2016 | The Latin American case study on “The Dynamics of Social Research Production, Circulation and use in Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru: A Comparative Study” was presented at the OECD International Conference on “The Transformation of Research in the South: policies and outcomes” in Paris, France. See more.

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The Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) implemented a study of Cambodia’s research landscape as part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program in the period 2014-2016 which was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The study, titled “Doing Research in Cambodia: Making Models that Build Capacity”, found that research in Cambodia is highly donor driven, which hinders production of quality research and obstructs avenues for domestic capacity building. The study also found that research dissemination and research-policy connections are limited. The study discusses three entry points for enhancing interactions between research and policy: NGOs, Think Tanks, and international Donors.

NGOs work through advocacy and public dissemination of policy shortfalls based on empirical and hard evidence gathered through primary research. Think Tanks leverage personal connections with policy makers built over time, and research services provided to them on demand, but does not challenge their objectives. Donors, instead, leverage funding as a source of influence. The Doing Research initiative in Cambodia has produced one report, one public event dissemination which involved research actors, policy makers and international actors, two blog posts published in Research to Action and the Phnom Penh Post respectively. Below, you will find the link to all these outputs.

Studies and publications

Workshops, Seminars and Consultations

  • 29 March 2016 | The Cambodian case study “Doing Research in Cambodia: Making Models that Build Capacity” was officially launched in Phnom Penh in front of an audience of research actors, policy makers and international actors.

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In the period 2014-2016, a study assessed the research environment in Cameroonian public universities by the University de Yaoundé II-Soa as part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program which was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The study found that academic institutions in Cameroon (departments, faculties, schools, universities) grapple with an unfavorable research environment which hinders the effective production, dissemination and uptake of social science research. The study recommends the setting up of a national center for scientific research with the aim of promoting scientific collaboration and research integration at national level. The full report (in French) can be downloaded from the link below.

Studies and publications​

  • Results of the Doing Research Pilot​
    • Download the research report (in French) of Cameroon

After the end of the post-electoral crisis, the Ivory Coast undertook a sustained program of reforms to improve the performance of institutions in charge of scientific research and innovation. A study was conducted by the Economic Policies Analysis Committee (CAPEC) of the Ivorian Center for Economic and Social Research (CIRES) in 2014-2016, as part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program which was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, to identify strengths and obstacles related to the production of scientific knowledge. Research is facing major challenges as a result of poor infrastructure, researchers and research institutions’ scientific isolation, poor access to quality documentary resources, and lack of capacity building activities targeted at researchers. The scientific output of social science research institutions in the Ivory Coast are for the most part produced by the academic sector, and mostly comprises postgraduate theses (82%).

Actions undertaken to improve research capacities depend on the nature of each institution. Universities tend to focus on educational activities, with fewer resources for scientific activities. Research centers whose prime vocation is research, are on the contrary more focused towards research promotion activities. The Ecole Nationale de Statistiques et d’Economie Appliquée (National School of Statistics and Applied Economics - ENSEA) offers the best combination of education and capacity building, which benefits both teaching and research staff as well as students and research end-users. The study highlights that reforms need to focus on transforming the research environment, working conditions and incentives for researchers, as well as improving the research sector’s governance. The link below provides full access and details to the Ivory Coast study.

Studies and publications​

  • Results of the Doing Research Pilot
    • Download the research report in English or French of Côte d’Ivoire

Post-COVID-19 analysis in El Salvador has found that gaps related to poverty, access to education, food and health have been widened. Consequently, movement of people and skilled labor towards the country’s cities and abroad including the United States is now heightened. This situation hampers the consolidation of social cohesion which is necessary for different actors to mobilize their efforts in steering the country’s sustainable development. A robust social science research system in El Salvador could help reduce gaps between social demands and public policies, addressing some of these broader challenges. A Doing Research Assessment (DRA) is currently being implemented by GDN and Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarrollo Económico y Social (FUSADES) in El Salvador as part of the scale-up phase of the Doing Research program which is currently being financed from GDN core funds. Results, webinars, peer-reviewed publications and blog posts are expected in 2022. More on El Salvador DRA in the links below. 

Studies and publications

  • Results of the Doing Research Proof of Concept & Scale-Up
    • El Salvador is currently one the NFPs working with GDN and the implementation in underway with results being expected by early 2022.

The study carried out in India within 2014-2016 as part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program which was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, assessed various dimensions of the research environment for social sciences. The study carried out by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) found that the increasing role of the consultancy firms has weakened the linkage between the social science research (SSR) and policy making which is a serious issue for SSR and its social utility. The report calls for a need to ensure greater interaction between the policy makers and the researchers and a larger participation of the researchers in the government-initiated programs and consultations. Get the full report in the link below.

Studies and publications

The Doing Research program has been implemented in Indonesia over two steps. A first step took place in the period 2014-2016 as part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program which was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, carried out by the University of Indonesia and the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG). The study found that the bureaucratic model and narrow technocratic role shaped during the previous authoritarian regime still impinge on social research productivity and critical thinking among Indonesian researchers. The gap between more open policies and the closed institutional model of state universities in Indonesia has resulted in an academic insularity. This insularity has stunted basic research, prevented long-term institutional engagement between university research and government policy-making, and it continues undermining the regional competitiveness of Indonesian state universities in the higher education market.

The second step saw a full Doing Research Assessment (DRA) implemented by CIPG in the period 2018-2021 as part of the scale-up phase of the Doing Research program which is currently being financed from GDN core funds. The study established that structural problems impinge on the quality of social science research performance in Indonesia, specifically in higher education institutions, which are subject to the policies and regulations of the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education. Policymaking is indeed predominantly informed by research with limited theoretical grounding that lacks a strong tradition of peer review. With these findings, an establishment of a national research policy and funding mechanisms that foster a balance between research for addressing national priorities and an independent research agenda for the social sciences is seen as a panacea. 

The two phases of DRA in Indonesia have produced two reports, two webinars – national and international, two workshops jointly conducted with the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI), four blog articles published in Research to Action, The Conversation, and Knowledge Sector Initiative, one media interview, and a peer-reviewed paper titled Reproducing Academic Insularity in a Time of Neoliberal Markets which is published in the Journal of Contemporary Asia – Volume 51 of 2021. Below, you will find the link to all Indonesia DRA outputs. 

Studies and publications

Webinars

  • 14 July 2020 | Bridging the research gap and improving development policies.' A webinar to disseminate the results of the Doing Research Assessment in Indonesia. Know more.

Workshops, Seminars and Consultations

  • 24 Sep 2019 | In cooperation with the Knowledge Sector Initiative, the Indonesian team promoted an event which was held at the Indonesia Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI), National Library, named KSIXChange#13 – Doing Research: Assessing the Social Science Research System in Indonesia. Know more. Read discussion article.
  • 6 April 2016 | o 6 April 2016 | The Indonesian case study “Reforming Research in Indonesia: policies and practice” was officially launched in Jakarta at a joint event with the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI).

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The Doing Research Assessment (DRA) was conducted in Myanmar in 2019-2021 by the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The assessment found that the instrumentality of social sciences is often neglected and overlooked by the government and its partners in the pursuit of national development objectives and specific policy goals. Popular opinions supersede research evidence in policy discussions. Oftentimes, work commissioned by the government is conducted in a relatively informal manner, and is undertaken by researchers or organizations as a means of developing a rapport with policymakers. The report advocates for the establishment of a national research body that will coordinate, support and document research activities in Myanmar, and ensures that sufficient attention is paid to social sciences as part of the national research system. The DRA in Myanmar has produced two reports (in both English and Burmese), two webinars at international and local level, four workshops as knowledge dissemination events, two blog articles published in Tea Circle Oxford and Myanmar Insider, one podcast published in Asia Research News. Below, you will find the links to all DRA outputs in Myanmar.

Studies and publications

  • Results of the Doing Research Proof of Concept & Scale-Up

Webinars

  • 27 May 2020 | A webinar titled 'Boosting social science research in Myanmar'. Know more.

Workshops, Seminars and Consultations

  • 18 Jan 2020 | Second national consultation on the Doing Research Assessment in Myanmar co-hosted by GDN, IDRC and local research partner, the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD), an independent and non-political think tank supporting evidence-based policy making.
  • 9 Jun 2019 | GDN discussed the report 'Doing Research in Myanmar' at a public event in Yangon as part of the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar Initiative's 12-day Knowledge Forum. GDN joined the Centre for Economic and Social Development – national focal point – to present preliminary findings from the Doing Research Assessment.
  • 27 Mar 2019 | Partners hosted a national consultation to kick-off the first Assessment in Myanmar with a review of the assessment methodology and highlighted the need to pay attention to the quickly changing research landscape in the country, and the increasing role of informal channels of communication, such as Facebook, in disseminating evidence.
  • 10 Nov 2018 | Parami Institute, Myanmar, and IDRC's Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar Initiative, as part of their monthly public talks 'Parami-IDRC Lecture Series' showcased GDN's Doing Research Program. Francesco Obino, Head of Programs at GDN covered and discussed GDN's experience of studying social science research systems in Cambodia and Indonesia and its relevance to Myanmar. Know more. Watch video.

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In 2015, as part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program which was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, a study was undertaken in Niger by Think Tank Economie Politique et Gouvernance Autonome (EPGA). It was found that social sciences in Niger have experienced a moment of crisis resulting mainly from two factors: transformations in research demand, and structural challenges hampering the growth of the different research organizations, which complicate the work of governance and the establishment of public policies. The study recommends that it is necessary to set up political practices capable of bringing university research into a constructive relationship with the main poles of research demand. The following outputs resulted from study in Niger: one report which is available in French, one working paper in English, one video interview, and one blog article published in Research to Action. Below, you will find the link to all these outputs.

Studies and publications

Newsfeed

The Doing Research Assessment (DRA) was implemented in Nigeria by the National Center for Technology Management (NACETEM) in 2018-2021 as part of the scale-up phase of the Doing Research program which is currently being financed from GDN core funds, and marked the first systematic efforts to generate data on the domestic social science research (SSR) system since independence. The DRA found that while Nigeria is the second largest producer of SSR in Africa, its social science researchers do not communicate their research results extensively to policymakers and the general public. Most of the decision-making processes tend to be framed around political and ideological considerations, with little or no reference to hard evidence. The main culprit is both on the demand side (the policy community’s limited competence in evidence-informed policymaking) and the supply side (a lack of sufficient capacity and skills for science communication and policy advice). Dealing with these problems requires an understanding of two factors: firstly, the barriers to effective pathways to policy; and secondly, new approaches for engaging policymakers. The DRA in Nigeria has produced one report, one international webinar, four online workshops as knowledge dissemination events, and an article titled Data on the Production, Dissemination and Uptake of Social Science Research in Nigeria which is published in Data in Brief journal – Volume 35 of 2021. Below, you will find the link to all Nigeria DRA outputs.

Studies and publications

Webinars

  • 8 Sept 2020 | Doing Research in Nigeria: bridging the research gap and improving development policies. A webinar based on the results of the Doing Research Assessment in Nigeria. Know more.

The implementation of the Doing Research (DR) program in Paraguay was carried out between April 2014 and April 2016 within its pilot phase and generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, which involved a comparative study of case studies of the three Latin American countries, namely, Bolivia (through the ARU Foundation), Paraguay (through the Center of Analysis and Dissemination of the Paraguayan Economy - CADEP), and Peru (through the Group for Analysis of Development - GRADE). The study found that instrumental-technocratic model of social research production is prevalent in Paraguay, whereby social research is largely at the service of the decision-makers to which it provides information and evidence. The lack of shared standards of quality social research and programmatic funding is both a cause and a consequence of the instrumental-technocratic model. Recent science and technology policies in the country, which have increased public funding for the social sciences, have raised the possibility of a different developmental trajectory that might allow for a greater degree of autonomy in social research production.

The study in Paraguay has produced one report, one blog article published in Research to Action, one working paper initially presented at the OECD International Conference on “The Transformation of Research in the South: policies and outcomes” in Paris, and a book chapter titled Production, Circulation, and Use of Social Research in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru published in an edited volume: The Transformation of Research in the South. Below, you will find the links to the Paraguay-related outputs.

Studies and publications

Presence in Conferences

  • 21-22 January 2016 | The Latin American case study on “The Dynamics of Social Research Production, Circulation and use in Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru: A Comparative Study” was presented at the OECD International Conference on “The Transformation of Research in the South: policies and outcomes” in Paris, France. See more.

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Peru was the subject of a comparative case study of the three Latin American countries, namely, Bolivia (through the ARU Foundation), Paraguay (through the Center of Analysis and Dissemination of the Paraguayan Economy - CADEP), and Peru (through the Group for Analysis of Development - GRADE) in 2014-2016 within the Doing Research program’s pilot phase, generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The study found that the presence of an empiricist-technocratic model of research is a concern for many researchers who feel that the consultancy-heavy model of knowledge production has had a negative impact on research quality. The study maintains that the current institutional dynamics and capacities need to be considered in any reform process, to capitalize on the already existing capacities for research. The study in Peru has produced one report, one blog article published in Research to Action, one media interview (video), one international conference, one working paper initially presented at the OECD International Conference on “The Transformation of Research in the South: policies and outcomes” in Paris, and a book chapter titled Production, Circulation, and Use of Social Research in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru published in an edited volume: The Transformation of Research in the South. Below, you will find the links to the report and the book chapter.

Studies and publications

Presence in Conferences

  • 11-12 June 2019 | Our partners at Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo's (GRADE), Peru hosted the international conference 'How to promote research in the social sciences in Peru?' (¿Cómo promover la investigación en ciencias sociales en el Perú?) where GDN presented the implications of the Doing Research program in Peru, drawing on studies in Bolivia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Nigeria, and the eleven-country pilot. Know more.
  • 21-22 January 2016 | The Latin American case study on “The Dynamics of Social Research Production, Circulation and use in Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru: A Comparative Study” was presented at the OECD International Conference on “The Transformation of Research in the South: policies and outcomes” in Paris, France. See more.

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A study on the research system in South Africa carried by the University of KwaZulu-Natal between 2014 and 2016 as part of the pilot phase of the Doing Research program which was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation revealed that social science research is less valued than research in the natural and physical sciences, despite the role social scientists play in the country in dealing with social issues such as poverty, inequality and other developmental issues. Numerous challenges remain: limited funding opportunities (more prominent for certain disciplines and thematic areas), biases in the perceived value of research and contributions (including those in relation to performance management and promotions) towards the natural and physical sciences as well as specific thematic areas, workload distribution (especially at universities), and support for social scientists in terms of mentoring and networking. There is a need for institutions, the National Research Foundation and government departments, to provide support for hubs of excellence in the social sciences. These hubs/centers will also create more spaces for networking and collaboration. Below, you will find the link to the report.

Studies and publications

In 2020, GDN joined hands with Canada’s IDRC to produce a first report on the state of research capacity in Venezuela, a country going through a serious structural crisis, affecting all sectors: the economy, education, and the health system. Amidst the humanitarian crisis, domestic and international actors are concerned with the loss of intellectual capacity, due to shrinking domestic resources for research across all fields, and an unprecedented diaspora among highly trained professionals. If the current crisis (compounded with the impact of the global pandemic – COVID-19) has put Venezuelan research on its knees, the structural changes underway also affect the long-term capacity of the country to rebuild a critical scientific community.

Under the coordination of Prof. Hebe Vessuri, a multidisciplinary research team based in Venezuela conducted a rapid and insightful analysis of the ongoing de-institutionalization of the research sector. The report identifies pockets of capacity that are proving particularly resilient, constellations of actors that continue to act as research champions despite enormous difficulties (compounded with the impact of the global pandemic). The report suggests a number of ways international donors can support existing capacity in the country, and set the foundation for the reconstruction of the research in key sectors such as food and nutrition, health and engineering. Below, you will find the link to the report, policy brief and the webinar resulted from this Venezuela study.

Studies and publications

  • Results of the Doing Research Proof of Concept & Scale-Up

Webinars

  • 18 Aug 2020 | Webinar Impulsando capacidades de investigación en Venezuela for presentation and debate of the findings to feed into the report. Know more.

To support this work, please contact Francesco Obino, Head of Programs on fobino@gdn.int

 

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