What did I learn from Wednesday’s arguments over aid, academia and ‘the literature’?

November 9, 2018
As they say on twitter, Mind. Blown. Wednesday’s rant about way aid and academia generated a fantastic discussion. Including some great putdowns. My favourite, which made me laugh out loud, came from Ryan Briggs: ‘Just to be clear, you’re arguing that academics are insular and generalize too much from shoddy evidence, and the evidence for your claim is based on

A day in the life of an Oxfam researcher – fancy joining the team?

May 8, 2018
Guest post from Deborah Hardoon Psst, want my job? This is my last week as Deputy Head of Research at Oxfam. It’s a role which is as fascinating as it is challenging. You get to work on important global issues, with brilliant and bright people from all over the world. For details on the role and responsibilities, here’s the job

9 bad things you do (but know you shouldn’t) in research communications

February 9, 2018
Guest post by Caroline Cassidy and Louise Ball  Over the years, at ODI’s Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme, we have worked with an array of researchers, communicators, practitioners and policy-makers, trying to make head and tail of how to get evidence to influence or inform policy. Reflecting on how far we’ve come, we realised that there’s a ton

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

How is evidence actually used in policy-making? A new framework from a global DFID programme

November 1, 2017
Guest post from David Rinnert (@DRinnert) and Liz Brower (@liz_brower1), both of DFID Over the last decade there has been significant investment in high-quality, policy-relevant research and evidence focussed on poverty reduction. For example, the American Economic Association’s registry for randomised controlled trials currently lists 1,294 studies in 106 countries, many of which have yielded insights directly relevant to the

How can NGOs get better at using evidence to influence governments and companies?

October 26, 2017
This week I attended an ‘Evidence for Influencing’ conference in the Netherlands. A couple of Oxfam colleagues had started planning it as a small event, and then found such interest in the topic that it mushroomed to 150 people over 2 days, roughly divided between Oxfammers and others (NGOs, media, academia). My overall impression was that campaigners, academics and governments

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,

What researchers say v what they mean

August 10, 2017
This handy translation device from Claire Hutchings is reminiscent of an FP2P all time favourite ‘what Brits say v what they mean’. On the left, what they say; on the right, what they mean. Enjoy (and send me other similar exercises). And with that, I’m heading off on holiday – two weeks in the Scottish rain, including a week replenishing

Capacity development is hard to do – but it’s possible to do it well

August 8, 2017
Lisa Denney’s gloomy take on the state of capacity building in the aid industry prompted quite a few comments and offers of blog posts, including this from Jon Harle of INASP, on organization that ‘strengthens the capacity of individuals and institutions to produce, share and use research and knowledge, in support of national development.’ Lisa Denney’s recent blog – and

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

The Case for a ‘Slow and Steady’ Approach to Capacity Building

July 19, 2017
In response to Lisa Denney’s piece last week on the low quality of much capacity building work in the aid biz, several people got in touch to say ‘but we do it better’. Here’s one example – a guest post from Arjan de Haan and Olivia Tran, from one of my favourite organizations, IDRC (see rave review of some of

Empowerment and Accountability in Messy Places. Need your advice on Nigeria, Pakistan, Myanmar and Mozambique.

June 7, 2017
My post-book research plans are shaping up, so it’s time to ask for your advice. As well as the work I blogged about recently on Public Authority in fragile/conflict-affected settings, I’m doing some research with Oxfam and Itad on how ‘adaptive management’ plays out in those same settings. Here’s the blurb: ‘There is much hype and attention given to new