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

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SK for SFE – Sustaining Knowledge beyond a program’s lifetime

This is a cross-post of a piece written by Leandro Echt (CIPPEC), entitled “A researcher in search of a policy maker: reflections on the sustainability of a project aimed at linking policy and research in developing countries and published on Politics and Ideas

Running a multi-year development programme successfully is not an easy straightforward task; but rather a long journey characterized by its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. The latter become even trickiest to overcome when this program is coming to an end.

In which case, the remaining challenge/question is how to sustain such program; in other words, how to make sure all programme products and learning material do not die away when programme closes. The programme “Spaces for Engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” (SFE) illustrates this situation. Not only the knowledge produced throughout the lifetime of the programme has been made available for public use, but also a reflective exercise on the programme resulted in a lessons learned paper which has also been made public with the aim to empower other intermediaries and knowledge brokers working in the same field.

The programme “Spaces for Engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” (SFE) is a six-year joint initiative by Global Development Network’s GDNet’s program and the CIPPECCenter for the Implementation of Public Polices promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC). Many of the lessons learned along these six years have been systematically reflected about in a Lessons learned paper, so as to improve our future work, as well as empower others who are walking or want to walk down the same path.

Started in 2008, the project encompasses six years of intense work aimed at creating diverse range of spaces of engagement with the participation of researchers from policy research institutions that conduct and use research to influence policy, policymakers, and/or decision making processes. For this purpose, SFE has deployed a va­riety of complementary methodologies to engage stakeholders in the field: an ef­fective combination of cutting edge research production, development of training materials, coordination of networks and debates and capacity building (both online and offline) allowed the programme to work with more than 300 researchers, prac­titioners and policy makers from more than 40 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

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South-South cooperation efforts within “Spaces for engagement” program

By Leandro Echt, Coordinator of the Influence, Monitoring and Evaluation Program at CIPPEC

Every two years, the Colombian Confederation of NGOs (CCONG) holds the National Conference of NGOs in partnership with regional NGO Federations. This year, CCONG and the Caldas’ Federation of NGOs brought the “V National Meeting of Colombian NGOs: social innovation for development, an analysis from the NGO” to Manizales, Colombia.

Encuentro-Nacional-de-ONG-2012-090-e1380738795998The meeting aimed at creating a space for dialogue and reflection among leaders and representatives of social organizations, as well as other stakeholders in Colombia. The dialogue was targeted at the importance of having an innovative social sector to contribute to the peace process, governance and territorial development.

Established throughout the meeting, a South-South Cooperation Forum aimed at knowing the trends of South-South cooperation in Colombia, sharing experiences of South-South cooperation between NGOs and other stakeholders, analyzing South- South cooperation as a modality to be strengthened among NGOs, and identifying realities, challenges and opportunities for cooperation among NGOs.
CIPPEC was invited to participate in this Forum and share its experience within the program “Spaces for engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions (SFE)”. A joint initiative between GDNet and CIPPEC, SFE encompass­es six years of intensive work (2008-2013) that aimed at creating diverse spaces of engagement with the participation of researchers from policy research institutions (PRIs) that conduct or use investigations to influence policy, policymakers, and/or decision making processes. For that purpose, it sought to work with a Community of Practice (CoP) gathering selected researchers from think tanks and research institutes, as well as policymakers who are strongly committed to improving the use of development research in policymaking in Latin America. The program also seeks to promote South-South cooperation on linking research and policy between Latin America, Asia and Africa.

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Are “South-South” interactions geographically restricted?

Southern researchers experience particular barriers to having their knowledge influence global debates on development. Publishing in international journal, in addition to putting together and sharing research ideas is often harder for them. Southern research institutes are less likely to have the communications capacity and budgets of their equivalents in the North so their voices can get lost online and at international events. GDNet’s own survey data also points to the dominance of northern academic practices making it harder for southern research to be seen on an equal footing.

In this video, Nader Kabbani (Silatech, Qatar) sheds light on some of the challenges facing researchers in the Middle East and the South in general. He argues that research clubs located in the South do not interact with each other, but with northern organizations instead.

Besides, the “South-South” interactions are much more elusive, in which people attending conferences in English or Arabic do not interact due to geographical restrictions, so there is a need to address different audience.

Learn more about the GDNet Connect South Campaign and watch this video

Interested to join us? Sign up to the Connect South Charter of Commitment and pledge how you will help southern research have a greater impact on LinkedIn

Access to water and education gap in China

Water is vital for our survival. This is indeed an unquestionable fact. Experts predict that future conflicts will be over water:

“It is estimated that, by 2025, 4 billion people—half the world’s population at that time—will live under conditions of severe water stress, with conditions particularly severe in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.” (Source: World Bank)

Not only an increase in the awareness about water issues has been noticed, but also a better understanding of the existing links between access to water and sanitation. This probably explains why access to water and sanitation has been one of the most commonly discussed development issues lately.

But what about the other sectors? Would limited access to water hamper the access to other services?

Yasheng Maimaiti (Xinjiang University) argues that female participation in school education is limited when their water needs related to menstrual period are not met.

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Communicating Competitors

By Simon Bordenave

Global Development Awards and Medals Competition (AMC) is a unique competition for promoting research on development and scaling up innovative projects. The competition aims to unearth new talent and support innovative ideas and research on development. The main and unique purpose of the competition is to channel funds to where individual talented researcher of which funding cannot reach.

Participants during the Awards and Medals workshop: Presentation skilss

Awards and Medals training- GDNet Research Communications Capacity Building Program for 2013 in Manila

Researchers who were carefully selected and will compete for the Global Awards and Competitions- also known, as Finalists- will present their research at the GDN 14th Annual Conference on Inequality, Social Protection and inclusive growth in Manila. Finalists will be asked to make their pitch throughout the 3 days of the conference June 19-21, 2013. How they pitch their presentations is crucial to them competing. Having said that, finalists attended a pre-conference workshop to help sharpen their presentation skills to the selection committee and conference audience. This workshop is part of the GDNet Research Communications Capacity Building Program, facilitated in partnership with Commsconsult and Euforic Services.

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Fighting Human Trafficking: GDN funds Innovative Development Projects

This is a cross-post based on GDN’s Feature Story, “Fighting Human Trafficking: GDN funds Innovative Development Projects”. The post is based on the GDN 13th Annual Conference Awards and Medals Competition 2nd place winner, Hasina Kharbhih, for the work of ‘Impulse NGO Network‘.

Hasina Kharbhih, Team Leader, Impulse NGO Network receiving GDN Award

Hasina Kharbhih, Team Leader, Impulse NGO Network receiving GDN Award

Researcher capacity building is clearly driven by the importance of communication in bridging research and policy. Our Research Communication Training Workshops are thus an integral pre-conference activity, conducted by GDNet  Research Communication Training facilitation team in collaboration with CommsConsult, that helps researchers better present their research to create a bigger impact with their ideas.  Last year’s GDN awarded winner Hasina Kharbhih sets an example for effective  engagement of policymakers in  creating an impact with research. Her research team utilized a range of communications tools to support the research and help ensure wider impact. This included publishing a formal research report that presents the research findings, in addition to conducting a press release to involve the media and engage Indian government stakeholders in discussions of the findings.

To provide a long lasting, holistic solution to the rampant human trafficking problem, Impulse has created the Meghalaya Model which not only rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates victims of human trafficking, but also oversees prosecution of the traffickers and raises awareness to prevent human trafficking. What makes the Model special is its ability to get various stakeholders involved. “We understand that the issue of human trafficking is too big to be handled only by a few NGOs. The government agencies and other stakeholders have to be involved,” says Hasina Kharbhih, the Team Leader of Impulse. The Model brings together civil society, NGOs, media, educational institutions, government departments, judiciary, law enforcement, and Border Security Forces (BSF) to collectively fight against the problem.

Interested to learn more about the Meghalaya Model and the experience of Impulse NGO Network? Watch our interview with Hasina.

As part of GDNet’s Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, a panel was held prior to the GDN Conference where a few rigorous, robust and representative cases of knowledge into use in the policy process were selected. Hasina’s case was chosen as one of the Most Significant Cases where a number of interesting policy influencing factors arise.

This year, the GDN 14th Annual Global Development Conference on Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth will be held on June 19-21, 2013 at the Asian Development Bank Headquarters in Manila, Philippines.

Don’t miss any discussions and stay up to date with conference proceedings and messages through social media:

  • Read the daily blog on GDNet to catch up on plenaries and parallels discussions and listen to interviews from speakers and participants
  • Ask questions and share your ideas and relevant research by commenting on conference blogs, tweets, photos, video and more
  • Follow @Connect2GDNet and #GDN2013 for live updates and comments on discussion.

Download full Conference Note here!

Tips to overcome research communications challenges

A successful researcher needs to be an effective communicator of his/her own research. This is why GDNet committed itself to help southern researchers communicate their work more effectively. Through its series of research communications capacity building training events, and in collaboration with research communication and media consultants, GDNet creates an opportunity for researchers to build their capacity and skills, improve their ability and increase their confidence in communicating their research to policy to maximise its uptake and impact.

But training researchers on research communications is not only about developing their communications skills. It is important that researchers deeply understand and analyse the political and social context in their respective countries before approaching policymakers. In this respect, we are keen to allocate time at our research communications training workshops for a brainstorming session. During this session, researchers think, share and exchange what they think are the challenges in their respective countries, and the tools and tactics they assess as successful and may help them to overcome those challenges.

Following up on our latest blog on the challenges of research communications, “Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns”, we share with you some more interviews conducted at the latest GDNet-AERC Policy Brief which took place in Arusha, Tanzania, in November 2012.

In the video below, researchers talk about the challenges they face in their respective countries when it comes to approaching relevant policymakers. They also suggest some successful tactics that would help them and their homologues get their voices heard.

Below are some tips and tactis:

  • Organizing dissemination workshops that bring together researchers, policymakers and media practitioners
  • Taking part of informal events where policymakers are present
  • Making use of social media
  • Using media to reach a broader audience/ordinary public
  • Communicating research at an institutional level – researchers to liaise with their institutions/organizations to get their findings disseminated given that a researcher has more power as an institution

A word of advise to all our researchers: Do not shy away from knocking the doors!

Interested to hear more from southern researchers, watch the following interviews:

Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns

Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?

The challenges facing southern researchers in the Arab world

Good research hidden behind walls of subscriptions

Financement : Défi majeur de la recherche sur le développement

Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns

“The road that goes from a piece of research to public policy is a winding, forked and blurry one” (Weyrauch y Selvood, 2007)

The goal of any research is to have an impact, and not to be kept in a drawer or forgotten on a bookshelf.
Wordle: Research Communications II

The global south does not lack robust economic and social research; a lot of it is being carried out with the intention of helping policymakers develop better policies for better development. Sadly, very little of that research achieves its objective mainly because it is poorly communicated to its intended target right audience.

Southern researchers experience particular barriers to having their knowledge influence global debates on development. Accessing development research and data, securing research funding, communicating research findings to peers and policy audiences, the way southern research is perceived and demanded are amongst the key challenges southern researchers face when informing policy. Besides, publishing in international journals is often harder for them due to their lack of access to the latest research necessary for referencing. It goes without saying that Southern research institutes may lack the communications capacity and budgets required to ensure effective research communication, compared to their equivalents in the North. GDNet’s own survey data also points to the dominance of northern academic practices making it harder for southern research to be seen on an equal footing.

In an attempt to highlight the challenges that southern researchers face and focus on solutions and ideas that help the development community to Connect South and ensure a more effective research uptake, we have been conducting a series of interviews with southern researchers who took part of GDNet Research Communications Capacity Building events.

At the latest GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Workshop which took place in Arusha, Tanzania, and as part of building the researchers’ capacity in research communications; we had the opportunity to hear from some of the participants about the challenges they face in their respective countries when trying to get their voices heard.

The following came out as significant challenges in different African countries:

  • Lack of interest expressed by policymakers in what academics produce on economic and social development
  • Crafting effective and simplified messages exempted of jargon and terminologies
  • Getting research published in reputable academic journals and newspapers
  • Lack of understanding of the value research has
  • Existing gender bias aspect in the development community (perception of research produced by women in some African countries)
  • Motivating media practitioners to listen to researchers and pitching stories out of academic research
  • Establishing a dialogue between academic researchers, decision makers and communication practitioners
  • Lack of accuracy of media practitioners when publishing research findings

Watch highlights from different interviews (English)

Watch highlights from different interviews (French)

This blog is part of a series of blogs on research communications challenges faced in the global south.

If you want to hear more from southern researchers, watch the following interviews:

Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?

The challenges facing southern researchers in the Arab world

Good research hidden behind walls of subscriptions

Financement : Défi majeur de la recherche sur le développement

The challenges facing southern researchers in the Arab world

Development experiences from many Arab countries show that the achievement of development in different sectors depends on the practical level of knowledge and skills of the labor force available to those countries.  That’s why it is crucial to encourage southern research that can help the developing countries cope with the developed world, since it is the cornerstone in development where work force is trained to lead the social, economic, political and cultural changes.

Southern researchers experience numerous barriers to have their knowledge influence global debates on development. Thus, GDNet is focusing on solutions and ideas that help the development community to Connect South; it calls on development actors to pledge their support and re-establish their own commitments to southern researchers. Accordingly, the GDNet’s Connect South Campaign aims to advocate the value of southern research as well as promoting southern voices.

In this interview, Jamal Haidar (University of Paris I, Pantheon-Sorbonne, Paris) draws our attention to the three main challenges he has been experiencing as other southern researchers. First, it is extremely hard to access data from southern countries especially Arab countries. Second, there is a lack of funding in the Arab world to PHD students as well as young researchers to attend international conferences. Last but not least, he expresses his concern towards the issue that most southern researchers focus on the quantity rather quality of the research. Thus, he suggests that there should be some supervision on the quality of southern research in order to have more sound policy implications.

Related posts: Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?