GDNet to investigate southern research uptake: Perceptions, challenges and experiences

By Cheryl Brown

Connect South

Connect South

Every year, the GDNet Members survey gives thousands of southern researchers the opportunity to comment on GDNet’s services, and to share their experiences of the research process: from gaining funding, to accessing journals, to getting their research used. In the last two surveys, close to 1000 southern researchers gave their views on the challenges they face, the perceptions of southern research and the success they have had in getting their research used by development decision-makers.

This survey data has already been used to inform GDNet’s monitoring and evaluation framework, and inspire improvements to the services it offers, such as the new Thematic Windows. The findings also provided the foundation of the Connect South campaign, which GDNet launched earlier this year. Connect South aims to draw attention to the value of research knowledge from the South, the barriers facing southern researchers and encourage others to pledge their commitment to creating a more enabling environment for southern researchers.

The survey data is now being analysed and combined with a review of qualitative data, and peer-reviewed and grey literature to help GDNet create a clearer picture of the experience of southern researchers and the use of southern research and help us to generate new ways to take the aims of the Connect South campaign forward. The study is being led by Cheryl Brown, who advises GDNet on User Engagement and Outreach, with support from the GDNet Team.

We hope to find answers to a number of questions, including:

  • What are the most significant challenges facing southern researchers today?
  • Does the type of organisation in which a southern researcher is hosted affect which sources of research they use?
  • Which channels do southern researchers use for communicating their research?
  • What are the perceptions around the quality of southern research? And is the North/South distinction still being made?
  • To what extent is southern vs. northern research used by southern researchers?
  • Where is southern research having an impact on policy-makers and how does this happen?

GDNet’s Program Director, Dr. Sherine Ghoneim, sees the study as playing a key role in the Connect South campaign: “GDNet has been raising the global profile of southern knowledge since 2001 but the need for research findings from southern countries to be heard by decision-makers worldwide has never been greater. I’m confident this study will help GDNet, and others who share our commitment to supporting southern researchers, to identify new ways to help southern research have a bigger global impact.”

This is the first of a series of blog posts to be written during this study. We look forward to sharing with you our findings, conclusions and reflections along the way and hope you will let us know your views and insights in response.

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