Our ten most popular blog posts from 2012


2012 was a busy year for all our bloggers on R2A. Here is a selection of posts that proved the most popular over the course of the year. A big thanks to all those people that contributed, your insights and thoughts always prove popular and we look forward to hearing more from you in 2013! If you have not blogged before, but would like to, do get in touch.

1. Presenting Complex Data Visually: Using web-based tools to make your development data travel

Data and statistics are a powerful way to communicate development research.   Solid figures can add weight and sustenance to research findings and through organisations such as the World Bank and the Open Data Foundation, the internet now provides an ever-growing open-data source for development statistics in the fields of economics, finance, healthcare, education, labor, social science, technology, agriculture, the environment and much more [Read more].



2. Ten ways DFID can improve Theories of Change for Research Uptake


For many DFID-funded RPCs (Research Programme Consortia*) the concept of Theories of Change (ToC) can appear to be the elephant in the room when conceptualising new (or even revising existing) research programmes. As Duncan Green has pointed out, ToC has become the new “fuzzword” that everyone’ s bandying about, but when you ask people what is a ToC or what theirs looks like, there tends to be an awkward silence [Read more].


3. Key questions to ask when putting together a Theory of Change for Research Uptake

handsIt’s amazing how the process of answering simple questions can help you uncover so much complexity. It’s rather like a child lifting a large stone to reveal all kinds of creep crawly things that they never knew existed. Unfortunately, when developing a Theory of Change (ToC) we don’t have the choice, like children, to leave those things alone we don’t like the look of. Developing a ToC gives us the opportunity to address problems, complexity, and opportunities that exist within a programme and to think about how these issues can be monitored and evaluated [Read more].

4. The (not so) easy task of translating research into policy and practice

rubix How can research feed into development policy and support positive change? This question remains critical to the development research community, and attempts to answer it often rest on understanding the roles, interactions and incentives between the many different actors in the research to policy process [Read more].



5. What makes a policy brief stick? Lessons from a pioneer experiment

Picture 88How many times have we had to write a policy brief on a very complex piece of research that has contained no clear take away messages? And when writing the brief, how often have we wondered what the decision maker or government official that our organisation is targeting will do after reading it – if he does read it [Read more].



6. Dissemination, Communication and the social life of research impact

There is an ever greater need to think about information and knowledge flow – what works and what doesn’t. As the demand for effective research communication grows it is important that we understand more clearly the different concepts attached to this practice. The distinction between dissemination and communication (outlined below) has been kicking around for a few years now, and yet we seem to repeatedly fall back on this as a means to understand what effective research communication looks like [Read more].



7. Peeling back the layers of the onion: Theories of change, assumptions and evidence

Abstract-Layers-of-ColorI was very lucky to be invited to participate at two meetings on theories of change in the Netherlands in the last few weeks, one at Hivos and one at the Centre for Development Innovation. At both meetings, we discussed a lot of things, from really thinking about your purpose for working with theory of change through to how to visualise – and even dramatise! – your theory of change [Read more].


8. Theories of Change – A conversation with Duncan Green and Simon Batchelor

London, 31 July 2012. At the end of the R4D Theory of Change workshop held at DFID, we recorded a conversation with Simon Batchelor (IDS) and Duncan Green (Oxfam GB). In this video, Simon and Duncan explain how they got interested in Theories of Change. They discuss how ToC can be used in research programmes and how DFID and other donors could created incentives for researchers to use ToC in their work [Read more].


9. What’s all the interest in Pinterest? How can it be used for research communication?

Here on R2A we have often shouted about the benefits of using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to further academic profiles online and build a following for development research. In recent months, a new site, the image-sharing platform Pinterest, has exploded onto the social media scene.  It is a tricky task keeping abreast of changes to web 2.0 tools and when a site like this emerges, surrounded by noisy hype, it is easy to either sign up and jump on the bandwagon without really understanding how it works (only to lose interest shortly down the line) or dismiss it entirely as the next new fad [Read more].

10. A lively afternoon at the 3ie workshop as Research to Action has lift off!

https://i2.wp.com/www.researchtoaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_9003.jpg?resize=193%2C128Tuesday the 25th September saw individuals from across the globe meet to discuss Policy Influence Monitoring and celebrate the official launch of Research to Action at the Academy for Innovation and Research, Cornwall, UK. Facilitated by Pete Cranston, of Euforic services, Tuesday’s workshop and launch were filled with lively discussion around what constitutes policy Influence and how it can be measured [Read more].