In the recently released paper Making a Difference in the Real World? A Meta-Analysis of Research for Development, Robert McLean of IDRC and Kunal Sen of the University of Manchester provide a meta-analysis of the quality of research supported by IDRC. The meta-analysis examines a large and unique data set comprising 170 studies undertaken between 2010 and 2015. The research sample spans multiple disciplines of the social and natural sciences and was conducted primarily in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
Research Quality Plus (RQ+), the evaluative approach applied, incorporates argumentation espoused in a growing international and interdisciplinary call for reform in the way research evaluation is conducted. As such, this paper presents a case study for using a different approach to evaluate research, and what the results can look like for research policymakers. The analysis suggests that contrary to conventional wisdom, there is no clear trade-off between the rigour and the utility of research and that research capacity strengthening efforts are positively correlated with the scientific merit of a project.
The authors conclude that the people closest to a development challenge are generally best positioned to innovate a solution. The results present novel evidence for consideration by those supporting, using, and doing research for development.
A condensed companion version is also available. Why Southern Research? Summarizes five findings underlining the value of research and innovation in the Global South.
This work has recently been published in open access by Oxford University Press in their journal Research Evaluation. Read it here.