Maximizing the return on investment: Making research matter
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Rose Wilcher is the Director of Research Utilization at FHI 360 where she works to translate public health research findings into evidence-based policies and practices. She has extensive experience supporting the application and scale-up of underutilized and emerging evidence in reproductive health and HIV programs in developing countries. This was originally posted on July 30, 2014 on the FHI 360 blog, Degrees

Earlier this month, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) released a report that seeks to answer a compelling question: Does research drive international development?

Through an extensive literature review, the authors examined the evidence supporting the commonly held assumption that investing in research leads to positive impacts on socioeconomic development. One of the specific pathways they explored is whether investment in research leads to development through more evidence-informed policy and practice. While the authors provide several examples of how research has led to policy and program improvements, they also conclude that “there are significant gaps in the capacity, incentives and systems necessary to ensure that research is systematically used in decision making.” Continue reading “Maximizing the return on investment: Making research matter” »

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Reconciling business interests and development needs
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How can publishers ensure developing countries have access to the research they need?

A successful partnership

INASP’s partnerships with publishers have always been an essential part of our work to support access to research in Southern universities and research institutes. Through the two phases of the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) we’ve been able to make many thousands of e-journals available and in some cases e-books too. 2013 saw 4.5 million full-text downloads, with 65,000 full text items available in our partner countries – and this is of course on top of access achieved through Research4Life and other initiatives, as well as the wealth of resources now open access.

The world of research communications has changed significantly in the last few years. OA has advanced rapidly, making a significant volume of research freely available, and there have been some steady, but marked improvements in the research systems of many of our partner countries – with library consortia developing and universities beginning to invest more in research and postgraduate training. And at the same time, publishers have begun to look increasingly to African, Asian and Latin American countries to develop new business and reach new readers and authors. Continue reading “Reconciling business interests and development needs” »

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Responsible engagement with developing countries: what can publishers do?
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We’ve put together some key principles to guide publishers wanting to ensure they engage responsibly with our partner countries, and to support genuinely sustainable and effective access.

  • Make an effort to understand the country context, which institutions are members of the consortium, and what their needs are. Try to look beyond the capital city – connectivity for each is often very different. You can do this through direct discussion with the consortium, but also by participating in Publishers for Development events.
  • Where a country wishes to negotiate as a consortium or purchasing club, respect this – don’t try to find alternative routes and don’t withdraw access before or during negotiations. It could damage reputations and relationships.
  • Don’t make sudden changes – if you wish to develop a direct relationship, communicate with the consortium or national coordinating body early to explain your plans, and give them time to prepare. A 3-5 year plan for engagement is likely to make for a more effective transition.
  • Think medium to long term on pricing and be realistic about your sales expectations. Budgets won’t have increased just because countries are able and willing to deal directly with publishers. Where increases are needed, make these affordable, incremental and predictable.

These suggestions are part of a longer blog discussing INASP’s work with developing country researchers and international publishers.

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Policy dialogues: A space for engagement
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Policy dialogues_A space for engagementI participated in the first of a series of policy dialogues organised by Zeipnet in Zimbabwe. The aim of these is to bring different sectors of society together to discuss certain policy issues. In this first one, the uncoordinated policies of industry and trade were discussed. These policies were formulated in 2012 and the set targets should be achieved by 2016. They are part of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).

There were more than 50 people at the event and I was surprised to see so many members of the government, and more than 50% of the participants were civil servants. Among them, the director of research of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the director of Insurance and Pensions from the Ministry of Finance, the director of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the principal director for programmes at the Parliament, the director of the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, among  others. Unfortunately the presence of the private sector was low, only three people attended plus a few academics and journalists. Continue reading “Policy dialogues: A space for engagement” »

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Promoting Policy Dialogue in Harare
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Promoting policy dialogue in HarareOn Monday 7th July 2014, the Zimbabwe Evidence Informed Policy Network (ZeipNET) hosted the first in a series of Policy Dialogue events. The aim of these Policy Dialogues is to open discussions around key national policy issues, bringing government together with relevant members of the society such as the private sector, journalists, researchers, social leaders, etc. This series will help to bridge the research-policy divide and engage relevant stakeholders in the policy-making process.

ZeipNET is part of VakaYiko; a consortium of five organisations involved in building the
capacity of policy-makers to recognise, articulate and act on research to shape better policy.

The first Policy Dialogue was held in Harare, Zimbabwe and focused on improving trade and industrial policy coordination and dialogue between the government and private sector. Director General of the Standards Association of Zimbabwe, Eve .C Gadzikwa, attended and chaired the Policy Dialogue. We asked her a few questions about how she found this first event: Continue reading “Promoting Policy Dialogue in Harare” »

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Enthusiasm, timing and local ownership shape our new initiatives in Sierra Leone
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Having recently returned from my second visit to Sierra Leone, I have been reflecting on the last year of our collaboration project with Reseach4Life.

The project aims to advance research in Sierra Leone through supporting and developing the capacity to use and produce research literature. While INASP is actively working to support colleagues in Sierra Leone, they are helping us to understand more about the conditions necessary to advance research both in Sierra Leone and elsewhere.

Initial visit

In September 2013 we made a scoping visit to Sierra Leone to meet with as many people connected with the higher education and research sector as possible, learning about their successes, challenges and aspirations.

It struck us how many people were determined to make a success of re-building the country after the war. We recognised the familiar challenges we meet in many of the countries in which we work: inadequate electricity and telecommunications infrastructures, and lack of library budgets, which are magnified in Sierra Leone. However the overwhelming commitment of individuals in the university system to address these challenges and increase research output makes it a suitable time for us to begin working there. Continue reading “Enthusiasm, timing and local ownership shape our new initiatives in Sierra Leone” »

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