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PEOPLE

FINDING LEVERS OF CHANGE

Assessing the social science research landscape of developing countries reveals key challenges to building strong and influential research systems.

Credit: Neil Baynes/GDN

ASIA RE SEA RC H N EWS 202 0

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Unlike many other developing countries, almost no social science research is done in Myanmar’s higher education institutions, according to an analysis by the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD). The bulk of social science research currently produced in the country is done by private research groups or non-profit organisations, primarily funded by international donors. “It is not that there is nothing there, but the absence of anything to measure was alarming,” says Nyein Chan Aung, the technology and communications officer for CESD.

Further information

Researchers who conducted the Doing Research assessments in Indonesia, Bolivia, Myanmar and Nigeria discussed their findings at the 2019 Global Development Network conference.

The finding comes as part of the Doing Research initiative launched by the Global Development Network (GDN) to systematically assess how features of a nation’s research system affect production, dissemination and uptake of quality social science research. Social science can provide evidenced-based insight into everyday lives, informing policies that advance social and economic development. However, very little is known about how social science research happens in developing countries, and how much policymakers use data to design laws and programs.

Francesco Obino | E-Mail: fobino@gdn.int Head of Programs Global Development Network

To address this information gap, GDN developed a comprehensive framework to map a nation’s social science research landscape. The methodology, which is carried out by local teams, identifies who is producing, communicating and using social science research, and to what extent, based on a set of common criteria. “Only by looking at the whole system can we identify the actual levers of change,” says Francesco Obino, head of programs at GDN. The Doing Research program began in 2014 and included 13 countries in the first pilot phase. A standardised methodology

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