Evaluation of Danida support for Development Research (2008-2018)

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This assignment was an evaluation of Danida’s support for development research in the period 2008-2018. A total of around 2 billion DKK was granted to research projects assessed by the evaluation. The main aim was to provide insights that would help to shape future support for development research. The evaluation had three specific objectives:

  • To document the achievements of development research funding since 2008, including all modalities;
  • On the basis of an analysis of the Danish and international context for development research, examine the results of funding development research since 2008, with particular focus on the relevance, outcomes and impact; and
  • Draft recommendations for future funding of development research, indicating how to maximise quality, capacity development partnerships and policy impact.

Responding to 20 evaluation questions and guided by four evaluation criteria, the evaluation combined a mixed methods and systems-informed design. From a methodological perspective, an innovation was the use of Research Quality Plus (RQ+), which is a flexible and holistic approach for evaluating the quality of research for development. This approach embraces a broad definition of research quality that includes scientific rigor but also recognizes other critical dimensions, for instance gender equality. Read more about RQ+ here.

In brief, the evaluation finds that:

  • The research supported by Danida was of high quality in terms of technical integrity, relevance and originality. Quality was lower in terms of the normative ‘research legitimacy’ dimension in RQ+, including gender-responsiveness, alertness to negative consequences, and engagement with local knowledge systems.
  • The most visible, significant contribution of Danida’s financing has been the development of basic use-focused, applied research capacities at individual researcher level, but also through support to institutions.
  • In terms of real impact on ‘development’, especially at scale, this has seldom been achieved, but research teams have done much that is valuable in a national context despite significant challenges and limited resources.

Based on these conclusions, the evaluation provides a number of options to stimulate discussion for the future of Danish development research, each with different areas of focus and resource requirements.

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