Realizing visions for strong and equitable national research systems


Over the course of late 2018 and early 2019, INASP and national partners convened a series of dialogue events to consider what is needed for equitable research systems in those countries and beyond. The dialogues generated lively discussions and actions planned. This post summarizes the output from these events.

The world’s problems can be best solved if worldwide expertise is engaged in tackling those problems. But often those researchers and others with the closest links with the problem – for example the impact of climate change in Bangladesh – are underrepresented in efforts to understand and tackle those problems.

And, within countries too, some people have greater access to resources and opportunities to participate in the research process than others.

Enabling equitable research and knowledge systems is a key theme running across all of INASP’s work. Over the past year, with thanks to support from Sida, we have had a chance to explore with partners the various dimensions of inequity in research and knowledge in four of the countries that we work with through a series of dialogue events.

The events, which brought together researchers, university management and teaching staff, policymakers, government ministers and others, provided an opportunities to examine and discuss key areas of inequity between and within countries. Discussions included international research collaborations, research funding imbalances and differentiation between research institutions within countries. Each event also dedicated time to specifically consider inequities that can emerge with gender.

There were common themes across the four events but in each country we partnered with a local organization and were led by their priorities and contexts.

Three of the countries were in East Africa: UgandaEthiopia and Tanzania, two of which are also partners with INASP in another piece of work, the TESCEA higher-education partnership.

Some common themes identified across these dialogues included:

  • The potential leadership role of national institutions in creating unified national research systems
  • The influences that “externally supported development” has on a country’s capacity to autonomously shape its future.
  • How both women and men must benefit from any solutions advanced to promote gender equity.
  • The importance of technology to the realization of the research system visions.
  • The desire and commitment to see the quality of publications improved.

“We need forums for continually growing our researchers’ capacities – mentoring programmes that support core competencies, research skills, critical thinking skills, analytical skills, generating research ideas, more learning opportunities outside the classroom.”

“Researchers across institutions never really meet to discuss about the sector as a whole across disciplines and with other important stakeholders. This has been very useful in bringing many diverse voices together to do just that.”

In Bangladesh, the only Asian country of the four, we took a slightly different approach with our partner Bangladesh Academy of Sciences (BAS). BAS had been a partner for many years on the BanglaJOL journal platform and so the dialogue event was complemented by a workshop for journal editors helping them to address the inequities often faced by journals from the South in being recognized and trusted in a global research communication sector dominated by large commercial publishers from the North.

“… actions for collectively helping make Bangladesh’s research system world class… include harnessing the opportunities provided by open science as a way to improve visibility and dissemination of Bangladesh’s research output…”

Find out more

Thank you to our four partners in these dialogue events: Uganda Council for Science and Technology in Uganda, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences in Ethiopia, COSTECH in Tanzania and Bangladesh Academy of Sciences.


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