In Search of the Helpful Academic: 10 ways they can support Practitioners

February 6, 2020
OK, I admit it, I’m sometimes a bit rude to academics, even though I have a foot in both camps (I’m 3 days a week at Oxfam, 2 at LSE). I’ve accused them of treating everyone in the aid business as either stupid, or venal, or both; I’ve complained that they slag off aid practitioners without ever bothering to talk
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5 Top Tips for Designing Research to change Social Norms on Gender (or anything else)

August 7, 2019
Anam Parvez Butt is a Gender Justice Research Lead in the research team at Oxfam GB. Gopika Bashi is the Asia Campaigner for the Enough Campaign at Oxfam International. As researchers and campaigners in development organisations we constantly grapple with the question of how to design research that is useful to influencing change. At Oxfam, we’ve been thinking a lot

Using evidence to influence policy: Oxfam’s experience

November 2, 2018
Oxfam has got a new paper out on how it uses evidence to influence policy. My colleague Ruth Mayne led on it (along with other Oxfam colleagues, I chipped in a few ideas). The paper brought together lots of new (to me) examples to illustrate how Oxfam seeks influence through research, while Ruth and Paul Cairney added some useful academic

5 Things I learned about how to Communicate Research on Sustainability

August 9, 2018
Is it possible to achieve a sustainable future where the social needs of all are met without exhausting the planet’s resources? Julia Steinberger shares lessons learnt from communicating her research findings. Earlier this year, my colleagues and I published an article entitled “A Good Life For All Within Planetary Boundaries” in Nature Sustainability. In this article, we aimed to test the central

Want to ensure your research influences policy? Top advice from a Foreign Office insider.

January 4, 2018
The most read posts from 2017, in reverse order. Here’s number 4. Check out the original if you want to read the comments. The conference on ‘Protracted Conflict, Aid and Development’ that I wrote about on Friday was funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, a massive (£1.5bn) UK research programme that is funding, among other things, the LSE’s new Centre for Public Authority and

Want to ensure your research influences policy? Top advice from a Foreign Office insider.

October 10, 2017
The conference on ‘Protracted Conflict, Aid and Development’ that I wrote about on Friday was funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, a massive (£1.5bn) UK research programme that is funding, among other things, the LSE’s new Centre for Public Authority and International Development, where I’ll be putting in a day a week over the next few years. Not surprising,

Local thinktanks are natural allies in ‘Doing Development Differently’ so why not support them better?

October 3, 2017
Just been reading a rather good paper by Guy Lodge and Will Paxton making the case for supporting  thinktanks in developing countries. They’ve been doing just that for several years, building on their experience in the UK at IPPR and No. 10 Downing Street respectively, hence the paper. They both now work at Kivu International. The starting point is that

Of Course Research Has Impact. Here’s how.

August 2, 2017
Irene Guijt, Oxfam GB’s head of research, puts me straight after my recent scepticism about the impact of research. And I don’t mean personal impact on CVs. At the annual Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) impact award ceremony in Westminster, I got a glimpse of the best of what that Research Council has to offer society. I was deeply

Are Academics really that bad at achieving/measuring Impact? Summary of last week’s punch-up

July 11, 2017
Last week’s post about academics struggling to design their research for impact certainly got a reaction. Maybe not a twitter storm, but at least a bit of a squall. So it’s time to summarize the debate and reflect a bit. The post annoyed some people in the ‘research for impact’ community, because it was basically saying nothing much has changed.

Improving collaboration between practitioners and academics: what to do? (with a little help from Einstein)

April 21, 2017
Previous posts in this 3 part series explored the obstacles to INGO-academic collaboration, and the lessons of systems thinking. This final post suggests some ways forward (with some sarcastic asides from Einstein) Based on all of the above, a number of ideas emerge for consideration by academics, INGOs and funders of research. Suggestions for academics Comments on the blogposts that

What does Systems Thinking tell us about how INGOs and Academics can work together better?

April 20, 2017
Yesterday, I wrote about the obstacles to NGO-academic collaboration. In this second of three posts on the interface between practitioners and researchers, I look at the implications of systems thinking. Some of the problems that arise in the academic–INGO interface stem from overly linear approaches to what is in effect an ideas and knowledge ecosystem. In such contexts, systems thinking can help

How can a top development thinktank improve its communications?

June 24, 2016
Well it feels like the world just ended, but thought I’d post this anyway. Life goes on and all that. The title to this post was my exam question for a recent discussion with the comms team at ODI. My initial reaction was ‘you’re top of the heap already, relax’, but then I got to thinking about a couple of