‘How DFID Learns’. Or doesn’t. UK aid watchdog gives it a ‘poor’ (but the rest of us would probably do worse)

April 4, 2014
The UK Department for International Development’s independent watchdog, the  Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), has a report out today on ‘how DFID learns’. Or doesn’t. Because the report is critical and gives DFID an overall ‘amber-red’ assessment, defined as ‘programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be made’. I’m

How to challenge short term thinking in development and research?

September 3, 2013
Over the next few days this blog will be even more scattergun than usual as I’ve just arrived in Australia for a 3 week tour (including New Zealand). Got in on Sunday evening after weeping my way through all 8 episodes of Broadchurch (hope I didn’t alarm fellow passengers). It’s a fantastic crime drama with the extraordinary Olivia Colman (David

Why are NGOs and Academics collaborating more?

August 8, 2013
August is a good month for getting people to step back and take stock – those who are not on holiday have fewer meetings, and so are more relaxed and available for shooting the breeze. And so I found myself at the London International Development Centre this week in one of those periodic soul searchings about how to get NGOs

My first year as Oxfam’s head of research (and I may have a job for you)

June 20, 2013
Oxfam’s not-quite-so-new head of research, Ricardo Fuentes, reflects on what he’s got himself into, and plugs a new job in his team. It’s been a year and few days since I joined Oxfam GB as Head of Research. People inside and outside the organization still call me the “new Duncan”. I have even started to introduce myself like that –

What is the evidence for evidence-based policy making? Pretty thin, actually.

February 27, 2013
A recent conference in Nigeria considered the evidence that evidence-based policy-making actually, you know, exists. The conference report sets out its theory of change in a handy diagram – the major conference sessions are indicated in boxes. Conclusion? ‘There is a shortage of evidence on policy makers’ actual capacity to use research evidence and there is even less evidence on

Book Review: Knowledge, Policy and Power in International Development: A Practical Guide

January 4, 2013
This review appears in the Evidence and Policy journal, where it is now available free online (after I protested about the scandalous, rip-off $30 they were charging). Or you can just read it here. Note to self: in future, I will not write anything for journals that are not open access (thanks to Owen Barder for that suggestion). In recent years, the public

Do’s and don’ts on research -> policy and the state of Development Studies in Ireland

September 10, 2012

Can theories of change help researchers (or their funders) have more impact?

August 3, 2012

How can we get better results from working with consultants?

March 13, 2012

Do research funders have to chose between rigour, innovation and impact?

March 9, 2012

How to write winning research funding applications

February 29, 2012

Anyone want my job? Oxfam’s looking for a new Head of Research

August 23, 2011