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Research Capacity Strengthening. Concepts, components and achievements Prof Ruairí Brugha Dr Elaine Byrne. Common goals. Common goals between IA and the HEI researchers pro-poor development and the elimination of global inequities

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Research capacity strengthening

Research Capacity Strengthening

Concepts, components and achievements

Prof Ruairí Brugha Dr Elaine Byrne

Common goals
Common goals

  • Common goals between IA and the HEI researchers

    • pro-poor development and the elimination of global inequities

    • working to achieve the millennium development goals, which means a focus on poverty reduction, education, women and children, and health and HIV/AIDS.

  • Focus of ‘Programme of Strategic Cooperation’: a shared commitment to using research – and therefore of building research capacity – as a mechanism to achieving these goals


Research = re-cherche (to search closely)

“search for knowledge or any systematic investigation to establish facts”

“Applied research involves the systematic application of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge”


  • Systematic application of standards-based criteria to assess programmes

  • same as research: rigorous application of appropriate methods (including use of the counter-factual [comparators] – D Murray

  • Difference: research aims to produce new and generalisable knowledge

  • The difference are found in the:

    • Sampling

    • Analysis

    • Conclusions (reach beyond the programme / sample studied)

Rationale for what researchers do
Rationale for what researchers do

A.Policy makers and practitioners require reliable EVIDENCE

  • Research provides the evidence

    which means

  • Researchers need to be enabled to produce the evidence

    which means

  • Researchers need the capacity / skills and resources to do the research

  • Development EDUCATION

    • Ensure curricula + learning outcomes based on up-to-date evidence

    • Impart skills to students collect, appraise and synthesise the evidence that (should) underlie development policy and practice

Meaning research capacity
Meaning – research capacity

  • changes in the meaning of research capacity strengthening over time from individual to collective:

    Research capacity development is the process by which individuals, organizations and societies develop abilities (individually and collectively) to perform functions effectively, efficiently and in a sustainable manner to define problems, set objectives and priorities, build sustainable institutions and bring solutions to key national problems.

    (Global Forum for Health Research, 2000, p134)

Meaning research capacity contd
Meaning – research capacity (contd)

  • Different levels

  • Components of capacity:

    • To do the research

    • To manage the research environment

    • To get research into policy and practice

  • Context-specific – many forms

  • Builds on existing capacity and knowledge

  • On-going and long-term (sustainable)

  • More equitable relationships

Regional/Supranational health

research bodies

National Health Research Systems

Organisational development


team development

Individual training

Different levels of building research capacity.

(Adapted from Lansang and Dennis, 2004, Fig. 1. Examples of efforts to build research capacity, ranging from individual to global movements, p764)

How can we strengthen research capacity
How can we strengthen research capacity?

  • From the literature success of RCS is based on:

    • Scientific leadership

    • Continuity of funding

    • Appropriate infrastructure, such as buildings

    • Core group of researchers

    • Adequate equipment and communication technology

    • Access to literature

    • Networks with other institutions

    • Stable posts and adequate remuneration

      Nchinda (2002)

Our research capacity gaps
Our research capacity gaps*

  • lack of an enabling environment for research at institution level, especially career paths and availability of mentors

  • weak management and coordination of research process

  • the need for a clear and coherent research framework

  • agenda and priority setting capacities (externally driven)

  • specific skills such as:

    • writing research proposals, data collection, data analysis

    • dissemination to policy makers, scientific writing

  • research infrastructure, such as access to publications and internet

  • Willingness and feasibility of stakeholders (southern and northern) to harmonise and align different RCS initiatives

Ia hei programme achievements
IA HEI Programme achievements

  • Undertaking of collaborative research between participating institutions

    • Masters and PhD students, publications, relationships/networks of institutions established

  • Enhanced quality of teaching and learning with pro-poor focus

    • Masters and PhD studies, external assessment of programmes, new and revised teaching modules

  • Establishment of, and participation in, cross-institutional networks

    • MoUs developed and signed, governance structures established, websites/portals developed, documentation of workshops/learning events, further funding sourced as result of partnership

  • Development of specialist knowledge and research expertise

    • Consultations between stakeholders (practitioners, politicians and researchers), appointed masters/doctoral students, pro-poor research being conducted, dissemination of research processes and outcomes

  • Communications strategies to increase awareness and understanding of global development issues & IA

    • Cross institutional cooperation between Irish HEIs, integration of Irish students into programmes, communication of research findings

How to assess
How to assess?

  • Difficulties designing RCS metrics as capacity is complex.

    • Levels of capacity (individual, team, institution, organisational, national, regional, supranational)

    • Components of capacity (to do research; to manage research and to use research)

    • Stages of research (producing evidence; using evidence; managing evidence)

Iap and metrics
IAP and metrics

  • Research process:

    • literature review,

    • list of indicators,

    • design, pilot and implement questionnaire

    • selection of indicators through consensus

  • Example of indicators from Malawi meeting:

    • Proportion of Research Staff on Short-Term Contracts

    • Average Time to Completion for PhD

    • Training Support in Writing and Publication Planning

    • Awards or Recognition of Staff Producing High Quality Research

      Explained further in breakaway session


  • Global Forum for Health Research. (2000). The 10/90 report on Health Research 2000, Global Forum for Health Research.

  • Lansang, M. A., & Dennis, R. (2004). Building capacity in health research in the developing world. Bull World Health Organ, 82(10), 764-770.

  • Nchinda, T. C. (2002). Research capacity strengthening in the South. Social Science & Medicine, 54(11), 1699-1711.