What does it take for researchers to be heard: Research competitions

Promoting Southern voices is at the heart of our work at GDNet. It is no secret that southern researchers struggle to communicate their research and have their work influence polices, and that’s exactly where we step in. This is NOT another post emphasizing the challenges facing southern research! It is, however, an example of what we aspire for research in the developing world to reach.

The winners of GDN 12th Annual Conference Awards & Medals competition, two Philippine researchers; Jeremaiah Opiniano and Alvin Ang from the University of Santo Thomas, Philippines, tell us what winning the competition added to their research. Ang and Opiniano use a tool called Remittance Investment Climate Analysis in Rural Hometowns (RICART) to advise the Philippine government on how to best use the billion-dollar remittances in local development.

Why did THEY win? In other words, what’s the X factor in their research?

When asked, Ang and Opiniano believe that their research is not only interesting, but also quite useful for communities. What ‘s more important is that it can be replicated and modified to apply to other communities around the world. In support of their argument, they found that other researchers were interested in their work. Researcher to researcher INTERACTION!

So how does winning help?

Winning the competition has indeed been a great step in communicating their research. Ang says that it opens doors to other funding resources as well as links with other researchers, both locally and internationally. It also gave them a boost of confidence in approaching policy makers. The attitude of policy makers itself is notably different; it shows more understanding and support and facilitates access to communities. Communities showed helpfulness and participation, and also provided them with access to information for research.

Without the award, Ang argues, research in the developing world remains rather small-scale and receives little support from both policy makers and communities. He emphasizes also on the importance of connections with other researchers in sharing ideas and findings, which is the essence of communication in the researchers community.

Jeremaiah Opiniano and Alvin Ang, GDN Annual Conference 2013

So is this what it takes for researchers to be heard?! Southern research has yet a long way to thrive the way northern research does. Researchers are not short on ideas for good research, however they lack the capacity to communicate their research to policy makers. Competitions are one of various approaches to empower their voices, they find a platform to compete and communicate with peers and reach their target audience, policy makers.

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