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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Seminar - Seeking Evidence of Research Effectiveness: lessons from an international research-for-development programme

12th October 2015, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor Brian Belcher (Royal Roads University, Canada)


Publicly supported research faces high expectations from funding agencies to achieve and prove “impact”. At the same time, there are strong internal pressures to evaluate research effectiveness, to better learn from experience and to improve research design and implementation. The tools for doing this are still not well developed, but there is substantial emerging experience with utilization-focused evaluation and theory-based evaluation approaches applied to research. The Center for International Forestry (CIFOR), an international research-for-development organization, is on the forefront of this development. This seminar will provide an overview and context of CIFOR’s research focus and approach, with emphasis on an ongoing reform process that markedly shifted the center and its scientists from a primary focus on high quality outputs to a shared responsibility for outcomes. We have developed and started implementing new approaches to planning, monitoring and evaluating in which the intended contributions of research are deliberate, explicit and testable. This improves our ability to gather evidence, assess and communicate outcomes and impacts for enhanced accountability, and our ability to learn from experience. The approach is promising, with important technical lessons and lessons about the inherent cultural change and how to support it. Questions still remain about whether the evidence produced and used in this approach will satisfy all constituencies, and about how to further improve the quality of this evidence.

Fellows' seminars take place on Monday lunchtimes in the seminar room at Cosin's Hall.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

The aim of these seminars is to develop new thinking on the big issues that are of current concern/interest for the Fellows . Each Fellow is asked to present a core idea that informs their current work, or a problem that they are tackling, that could benefit from cross-disciplinary thinking. These seminars are informal and designed to encourage discussion.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.