GDNet Program Closure

Dear GDNet Members,

I am writing with important information about the closure of the GDNet program this week, (GDN’s knowledge service), and details of online resources which you may find useful.

Funding for the GDNet Program ends shortly and the GDNet website and online services are no longer accessible. GDN will be contacting GDNet members in due course to re-register for a new database of researcher profiles. We hope the following links will be of value to you in your research:

GDNet publications: GDNet’s toolkits, research communications handouts, learning publications and project documents (e.g. How To Guides on Policy Influence) are available from DFID’s Research For Development portal.

GDNet’s reflections on the achievements, outcomes and learning of the GDNet programme, 2010 to 2014, are captured in the GDNet Legacy Document.
GDNet’s June 2014 series of short ‘Lessons Learned’ publications comprise:

Free e-journals: INASP and the British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) provide access to several collections of free online journals including collections from Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

How to communicate research: INASP’s AuthorAid portal is a global network that offers support, mentoring, resources and training for researchers in developing countries.

Accessing development research:

Working papers and policy briefs from GDN-funded research are available from the GDN site.

The BLDS Digital Library is a free repository of digitised research papers from African and Asian research institutes.

Eldis is an online information service providing free access to relevant, up-to-date and diverse research on international development issues.

Finally, on behalf of my team, I would like to thank you for your membership of GDNet and to wish you every success in your future work. Many of you took part in our latest Members survey and we are disseminating the results widely. The analysis of the survey is included in our latest Monitoring & Evaluation report (see p.54 and p.84).

Best wishes

Sherine Ghoneim, GDNet Programme Director on behalf of the GDNet Team

Open Access: One small step or one giant leap?

By Clare Gorman

GDNet Connect South Campaign

GDNet Connect South Campaign

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) recently announced the welcome news that all publically-funded development research is to become freely available.  As the recent ‘Academic Spring’ debate attests, this is good news for most, not least of all southern researchers who rank accessing research high up a long list of problems they face when trying to engage with the wider development community.

Charging the developing world to see findings of new scientific research will mean fewer people escape poverty and could cost lives” warned International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell as he set out the Department’s new open access policy.  “Even the most groundbreaking research is of no use to anyone if it sits on a shelf gathering dust… What’s just as important, though, is ensuring that these findings get into the hands of those in the developing world who stand to gain most from putting them into practical use.”

Although some may disagree, surely any attempts to make research available easily and at little or no cost to researchers in developing world deserve applause (bravo, Eldis)? Yes… but while open access initiatives and policies such as these are hugely significant, it’s important to understand that the ‘apartheid of knowledge and analysis’ (as Duncan Green of Oxfam puts it) doesn’t end with improving access.

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“Will not use them. Cannot use them. Web 2 what?” Why aren’t web 2.0 tools being used more for research collaboration?

GDNet study explores the barriers to adoption of web 2.0 tools for research collaboration in developing countries

By Cheryl Brown

Blogs, wikis, social networking sites and other web 2.0 tools have enormous potential to facilitate collaboration. But to what extent are researchers actually using them to support networking, working with and exchanging knowledge with other researchers online? And how can we explain why some researchers adopt these tools and others do not?

Adoption of web 2.0 by academics in the UK and US has received some attention in recent years, (e.g. funded by the Research Information Network) and even in these countries, adoption is limited. GDNet wanted to establish if the picture was the same in developing countries and get ideas for what it could do to encourage more researchers to use web 2.0 tools for research collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

A study of secondary sources, including GDNet survey data, was commissioned by GDNet to explore the adoption of web 2.0 tools for research collaboration by researchers in developing countries and the reasons for lack of use. The study also looked to see if there are any regional or gender differences and reviewed existing (and failed) online communities for academics to identify any lessons to be learnt.

Web 2.0 study

Web 2.0 study

What did the study find?

For a start, there is little data available on adoption of web 2.0 tools among academics in developing countries – something GDNet plans to address by carrying out follow-up primary research. From the data that exists, levels of take-up among academics are relatively low and there do seem to gender and regional difference both in terms of use and reasons why adoption might not occur.

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Financing development in a post-conflict world: The new agenda

Panel plenary session 1 - Financing development in a post-crisis world: The new agenda

Panel plenary session 1 - Financing development in a post-crisis world: The new agenda

The panelists in the first Plenary Session of GDN’s 12th Annual Conference agreed that financing has become widely available for developing countries in the past few years, and that the main issue has become how to allocate it.

Francois Bourguignon, Director of the Paris School of Economics, claimed that financing has increased significantly in the last years and the main issue has become finding the most suitable finance scheme to maximize social return and avoid a poverty trap. Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Chief Economist of the Financial and Private Sector Network in the World Bank, pointed out that there are some undesirable effects of having such a wide availability of financing, including the irresponsible expansion of access to credit. But at the same time, she acknowledged that financial systems, and financing in general, are still crucial to developing economies because they underpin economic development. She suggested that in order to attain sustainability, the State must play a clear and defined role and that regulations have to be well formulated and enforced.

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Look How Far We’ve Come

A Roundtable on regional responses to the crisis revealed surprising optimism about the state of play in 2010 from panellists representing sub-Sahara Africa, central and eastern Europe, Latin America, the Arab States and East Asia. Regional responses varied greatly. The session was chaired by Andrew Steer, Director General, Policy and Research, DFID.

Africa was hit hard. It suffered more than other regions of the world yet the response has been more positive than ever before. Ernest Aryeetey from the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institute said “[African] policies are better managed and finance institutions are better structured which lead to better containment of these shocks.” Read more of this post