It has been a busy year for the international development community. The 2016 Sustainable Development Goals ushered in a greater emphasis on monitoring and evaluation, and the implementation of yet more spending cuts pressuring the already contested communications budgets within programmes. Here at R2A we thought it would be useful to round up some of the important DFID updates relating to research communications and uptake in case you missed them.
1. DFID’s Research Review from 2016 was released in October. It committed 3% of the budget to research over the next 4 years and stressed the need for operationally useful evidence, stating that ‘research will ultimately be judged on its real world impact rather than purely on its academic merits’ (Page 12).
2. The DFID Guidance on Research Uptake for funded programmes was updated in 2016. James Georgalakis from IDS blogged about the updated guidance note, summing it up in 7 things to love and 7 things to worry about.
3. New guidance on digital spend advice and control for DFID partners and suppliers was released in December. Key things to note are that content production costs for websites do not need approval and social media activities/platforms are expected to be free.
4. An evaluation of DFID’s online research repositories and portals (covering R4D, Eldis, and SciDev.net) was published in October. It found that users were often constrained and impatient, and that Google was sometimes more effective at finding repository and portal documents than the portals’ own search functions, making SEO very important. Other interesting findings were the increasing use of mobiles and tablets for website access, and the fact that women are more likely to use newsletters and automated alerts to keep up to date than men.
5. The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) underwent an impact assessment as part of the International Climate Fund case studies, and the report was made public in December. It outlines 13 areas of expected results for the £101.6m DFID spend on the network.
6. Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA), a DFID-funded project, came to the end of its funding life cycle in December 2016. The reports and guides produced by the project have been collected into a Learning Resource and will be conserved as an archive on the Association of Commonwealth Universities website.
7. Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE), a DFID-funded project focused on the demand for research evidence, is well underway. Outputs so far include: an INASP learning report about approaches to capacity building gleaned from Vaka Yiko, an EIPM toolkit (also by INASP), the Politics & Ideas’ report ‘Going Beyond Context matters’ written by Vanesa Weyrauch, and the jointly authored ODI/DEA reports and frameworks about unpacking the organizational context to evidence-informed policy making.
8. Procurement for Improving Communication of Research and Evidence for Development (ICRED), which would have focused on the supply side of the policy cycle, complementing BCURE’s perspective on demand, was initiated by DFID in 2015 and then halted mid-way through the procurement process in 2016.
9. The UKCDS, a collaboration between UK government departments and research funders working on international development, launched a new Hub for researchers, ‘Science for Global Good’. The hub includes funding opportunities, communications tips, and careers advice. The UKCDS explained the motivations for and the uses of the hub in a blog on R2A.
10. For more updates from DFID about research communications, you can follow DFID’s Evidence into Action team on Twitter @DFID_Evidence.
Did we miss any crucial updates? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet us @Research2Action.
We are also keen to collect updates from other large national and international development funders. If you have any suggested updates about research communications or uptake from USAID, Ausaid, the EU’s funding mechanisms or any other donor please take a look at the how to contribute page about submitting a blog post or series of resources.