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Reflecting on research impact: examples from ODI Nicola Jones, PhD DSA Conference November 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Reflecting on research impact: examples from ODI Nicola Jones, PhD DSA Conference November 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reflecting on research impact: examples from ODI Nicola Jones, PhD DSA Conference November 2010

2 Introduction Research knowledge can contribute to significant development impacts but it is not the norm We need to be more strategic in identifying under what conditions knowledge can make a difference, esp. in the current global context of resource constraints ODI has undertaken a body of analytical work on linkages between knowledge, policy and power in the development sector

3 Conceptualising impact Moving beyond linear models of interest group influence to the power dynamics of information politics and ideas – Shaping agendas – Securing procedural shifts – Achieving policy or legislative change – Changing attitudes and behaviours

4 The problem with attribution CEF National Gov Family Local Gov GRO USAID Church CSO DFID

5 Non-linear, dynamic policy processes The impacts of research may occur neither at the time of the research, nor in ways that are predictable…or in the direction in which researchers intend. [Rather] it is mediated by the options available to policy makers at a particular time. [There is a] …need for researcher to be both radical and relate to its time and place….to make an impact but also to accord…with existing mores » (Lucinda Platt, 2003: 2). The hard evidence of many cases supports the claim that intent matters. It matters precisely because the confusions, tensions and accidents of the policy process itself turn out to be so complicated and unpredictable…Research will only have a reliable influence on policy if it can survive… » (ONeil, 2005: 762).

6 Approaches to assessing research impact Classical case studies Episode studies Impact logs Outcome mapping Stories of change

7 Example 1: the role of historical evidence Review of historical evidence on impacts of financial crises on child rights More comprehensive picture of impacts and transmission pathways than data would permit of current crisis Findings underpin UNICEFs response to the global crisis – Recovery with a Human Face UNICEF country and regional offices also commissioned work to underpin policy dialogues on social protection responses

8 Example 2: Partnering with advocates ODI partnership with Plan in its Learn without Fear Campaign Systematic review of evidence in developing country contexts Legislative mapping exercise Costing exercise Packaging of findings Mobilising partnerships in 44 countries where Plan works on the ground; international media coverage Legislative, attitudinal and behavioural changes

9 Example 3: Embedded longitudinal research DFID-funded 5 year RiPPLE programme Aims to identify challenges facing water sector and respond to those challenges as part of MDG safe water target Working through Learning and Practice Alliances at sub-national level which involve researchers, practitioners, officials and champions of the research Increasing budgets for water and sanitation initiatives; capacity building for water sector professionals

10 Example 4: Bridging disciplinary divides ODI research on links between land, conflict and humanitarian action. Uncharted territory – research synthesising findings from six case studies in Asia, Africa and Latin America and identifying good practice in restitution processes Uptake by International Committee on the Red Cross, UN Cluster Group on Early Recovery and UN Habitat to develop guidelines for humanitarian workers and land tenure community

11 General lessons Types of knowledge matters Partnerships / Intermediaries Framing matters Time investments Importance of dedicated funding for communication/ policy engagement activities and M&E of impact


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