Development research: improving access and relevance | Global Development Professionals Network | Guardian Professional
Use the link to access more information about the recent event: "Many careers have been built on development research, but how much impact has it made in the real world? In an interview last year, Alisdair Scott, informations systems manager at the Institute of Development Studies, was quoted as saying: 'The appropriate use of research saves lives, reduces poverty and improves the quality of life for people living in developing countries. But, for this to happen, research needs to be made as accessible as possible – both to the decision-makers themselves and to the people and organisations that seek to influence them.' This point was reiterated by Dr Gora Mboup of UN-Habitat, who said: 'If you produce information and it is not used for policy, or in any way that changes people's lives, then it is useless.' So how can researchers ensure that their work extends beyond the academic community? An answer has come in the form of open-access publishing, defined by non-profit publisher Plos as 'unrestricted access and unrestricted use' of research. It is intended to bypass the restrictive costs of traditional journals, allow for universities and other institutions to themselves archive publications and give copyright back to the authors of research. But as Scott's interview reveals, here too, there are costs involved and not all institutions or individuals can afford open-access fees. The second part of Scott's statement tackles the issue of research uptake, defined in a paper for the Department for International Development as 'the process of becoming aware of and accessing research outputs'. This is particularly important in developing countries where research institutions are relatively new and as Eve Grey, a South African academic, points out: 'The biggest battle southern African universities face is to combine the achievement of both prestige and relevance.' So how can development research be more widely accessed and used? Are open-access debates such as those now common in the US and the UK having any impact on southern institutions? Finally, what are the implications for development if the very publications that explore democratic best practice in developing countries are not themselves democratically available? Join us to debate these questions and others on Thursday 6 May from 1pm BST."