The policymakers’ take and advice on research communication challenges

Policy Panel

Policy Panel

Any story has two sides. Research communication is no different; there are researchers and there are decision makers.. In developing countries, however, there is more to the challenge than a bridge between researchers and policy makers. Following up on the GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop, this blog takes to the policymaking side of the issue; specifically regarding the challenges in assessing research evidence and research uptake. Eric Aligula (Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, KIPPRA) and Leonard Kimani (Director, Economic Sector, National Economic and Social Council) talk about the main gaps and opportunities for research uptake in Kenya.

Leonard Kimani first talks about the challenges of policymakers in assessing and utilizing research in policymaking. Regarding policy briefs, he argues that policymakers appreciate policy briefs as an effective research communication tool. Kimani discusses a number of “Dos & Don’ts” for researchers, to help them maximize the opportunity of their research reaching the right audience. These are:


  • Researchers should be very familiar with the research agenda, and make sure that the agenda is relevant to the challenges that are specific to a certain organization; whether the organization is governmental, counter governmental… etc.
  • They must also make sure that the quality of the research that they do is comprehensive, having in depth, and offering alternative practical solutions to the decision maker.
  • Mechanisms of dissemination should be put in place so that the research results could be shared, which could be through conferences, workshops, retreats, web portals or blogs.

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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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Changing mindsets and policy priorities: Can growth and inequality reduction go hand in hand?

“This is a cross post based on GDN’s President Pierre Jacquet’s Op-Ed on the GDN 14th annual Conference, taking place in Manila, Philippines. The conference theme is “Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth”, with a focus on promoting research capacity building to inspire better policies.”

Pierre Jacquet

Pierre Jacquet, GDN President during the GDN 13th Annual Conference.

As concerns of the spread of poverty and social inequality across the world, and in developing countries in particular; research to impact policy decision must thus be driven by those who live among it, rather than international experts and aid agencies. GDN’s vision to bridge social science research and policy takes up an approach that ensures maximum effective as well as efficient communication. This year’s annual conference aims not only to raise the voice of developing country researchers, but also to provide them with a unique chance to debate their views and their research against comments, insights and advice of the experts. Also on the debate whether a policy focus on inequality reduction weakens or strengthens the growth objectives of a country, GDN advocates, through this conference, that the frustration with insufficient results does justify more research and more debate, which also entails value-for-money in learning about how to better meet challenges and influence effective policies and priorities.

Both the rise of poverty and inequalities in industrial countries, and their persistence in developing countries amidst a diversity of experiences, suggest that the empirical design of social protection schemes and of “inclusive growth” policies is still a mostly unchartered agenda. In a context in which policy priorities are largely the results of local political economy considerations rather than general discussions on what “should be” done, it is crucial to expose facts and document policy results, because this is what can powerfully change domestic agendas. This is what GDN’s research experience confirms, for instance through the recently completed research program “Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia“. This is also what all participants in the GDN Conference in Manila will help do.

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!


For Africa’s health, economic growth and poverty reduction welfare

Africa is a wonderful, beautiful, exciting continent and offers amazing experiences and adventures. However, these experiences are often slowed down by health issues along with concerns of economic growth and poverty.

As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow in the continent, so do the numbers of people fall through the cracks finding themselves homeless, and neglected.

AERC in partnership with GDNet and CommsConsult arranged a two days workshop in Kenya. The workshop focused mainly on approaches that researchers would undertake in order to better communicate research to their target audience to maximize uptake and impact.

GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop

GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop

Researchers hailed from almost all over the “Motherland” African continent countries. Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Burkinafaso, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Uganda, Benin, Malawi, Sierra Leone and of course Kenya; the host country along with Egypt represented by me and my dear travel mate and colleague Ms. Zeinab Sabet.

Day 1 started with a brief intro and a warm welcome from AERC representatives; Prof. Damiano Manda and Dr. Innocent Matshe. “Communications is one of the most overlooked things in your lives”, Dr. Matshe expressed his concern for such a fact. He stressed that “communicating” is generally ignored and for a successful approach to culminate, communicating must be implemented.

For AERC, poverty is one of the main objectives to study. As health is very much affected by poverty, it is again a topic that should be clearly discussed. In doing so, workshop participants are encouraged to raise their concerns they encounter in their receptive researches to shed more light on such challenges that would serve the cause.

Mrs. Megan Lloyd Laney; CommsConsult Director and workshop facilitator took over to declare the opening session and commencement for Day 1 activities. Mrs. Megan stressed on the workshop’s main focal objectives. Objectives included how to increase the understanding of communications with targeted audience, build capacity and skills of researchers and produce a concise “policy brief” for each research project.

Megan Lloyd-Laney, CommsConsult

Megan Lloyd-Laney, CommsConsult

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How to win an online and offline audience

The second day of the Awards and Medals Training Workshop covered more ground in terms of the do’s and don’ts of presentations and how to effectively handle and win your audience. Starting with a brief Q&A session, Megan Lloyd Laney (CommsConsult) discussed how to deal with contentious questions, and effectively address them, and win the crowd in the process.

Pearls of wisdom were also handed out, such as not getting defensive or aggressive, and admitting when not knowing how to do something. It’s also never a bad idea to crack a few jokes and get your audience laughing. Some final thoughts reiterated the importance of taking deep breaths, having confidence in the subject matter, your ability to deliver, and just being sincere; as surefire ways to captivate your audience.

The second highlight of the day, led by Pier Andrea Pirani (Euforic Services), was a session devoted to social media tools for researchers and how and why to use them. It started with a fun, hands-on activity involving a human spectrogram where finalists were asked three questions, relating to their attitudes towards social media, and how beneficial they believe it is in terms of their research, and making it travel.

Having fun during social media session

Needless to say, responses were varied, with some believing in the efficacy of social media as a powerful way to communicate to a wide audience, and others seeing it as a cumbersome, at times useless approach to spreading the message. The session was fun, informative, and helped shed light on the options available to researchers. The choice to use or not to use the tools, remains theirs.

Winning…the hooray feeling!

What makes compelling communications? What is human about ourselves is what makes us passionate about our work, and ourselves. The way we present our work, and ourselves shapes how people think and perceive us. Presentation is crucial to the success of our work if not fundamental to its realization and attainment.

Martin Oteng-Ababio @ GDNet Presentation Skills for Awards & Medals Finalists

Martin Oteng-Ababio @ GDNet Presentation Skills for Awards & Medals Finalists

The GDNet Research Communications Workshop targeted to the GDN Awards and Medals finalists covers the basic, essential skills required by researchers to pitch their research findings to a wide audience, thus multiplying its outreach spectrum.

The overarching aim of the GDNet Research Communications Workshop is to zoom in and strengthen presentation skills and help researchers become better communicators. Crafting presentations, identifying internal tones of voice, developing key messages, getting ready for elevators pitches, and creating “stay-behind-documents” are among the learning outcomes of the first day.

Finalists are asked to pitch their research findings and ideas to a committee in a competition with their peers for rewarding research grants. Nevertheless, “victory and loss are not endpoints or final destinations, but gateways to something of immense importance to us: the affirmation of our place in the world.” (Francesco Duina, University of Princeton).

All great ideas are simple at heart.

Good luck to all finalists!

GDNet presentation skills training for Awards and Medals finalists to kick-start in Budapest

Being an influential researcher requires you to be good at research – of course that goes without saying – but also an excellent communicator!  As basic as it sounds, it is often the reason why robust research fails to be looked at or acted on and thus researchers fail to make a bigger impact with their work.

Awards & Medals Finalists

Awards & Medals Finalists

It is increasingly not enough for scholars to be methodologically thorough and to produce robust and objective research. To be effective, they need also to be proficient communicators who can engage policymakers and the media with their results and its implications for wider development debates.

With this in mind, a special two-day GDNet Research Communication Training Workshop will be held in Budapest, Hungary, prior to the GDN 13th Annual Conference. The Presentation Skills training, held on June 14-15, is designed for Awards and Medals finalists.

Delivered jointly with CommsConsult, the workshop aims to do two things: first to strengthen capacities to identify key messages and tailor research for different audiences; and second, to develop skills, confidence and a powerful presentation for each finalist to present to the Judging Committee and other scholars at the conference.

The training will showcase inspiration speakers and work with participants to develop principles of effective communication in the written and spoken word. It will use video-critique and peer review methods to improve the styles and build the confidence of participants to present their work in different forums, including at the Conference Ceremony later in the week. The training will also explore some of the social media tools to help researchers make their research travel to a broader audience.

Learn more about the GDNet’s Research Communications Capacity Building Programme

Check GDNet Research Communication Training for Awards and Medals Finalists 2010, Bogotá, Colombia

Your facilitation team

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