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Over 180 participants meet online for the
2020 PEP Annual Conference

Over 180 people from around the world participated in the 2020 PEP Annual Conference, held online from September 22 to October 16. They included researchers, practitioners, international experts, representatives of donor and international organizations, and policy actors. 

In response to the restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, PEP – committed to providing training and peer-review opportunities – moved the event online. Activities were held in half-day sessions from September 22 to October 16. 

Members of the 14 project teams coming to the end of the research cycle participated to present their research findings and policy recommendations for discussion and peer-review. PEP Communications staff also provided training in evidence-informed policy briefing, to help prepare the teams for their upcoming dissemination activities. The event concluded with the 2020 PEP Policy Conference, looking at the Coproduction of development research.

 

Improving policy research, increasing research uptake

Under the third funding round of the second Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment initiative (PAGE II-Round 3), PEP is supporting 14 mixed government-research project teams in 10 African countries.

Investigating the themes Entrepreneurship and Financial Inclusion and Productive Employment in Rural Farm and Non-farm Sectors, the projects use either the microeconomic analysis or macro-micro policy modelling methodology to provide analysis that is useful for informing development policy decisions in their home countries.

These projects are coming to the end of the research process. This year’s conference activities aimed to prepare the teams of researchers and government officers for the dissemination stage of their projects.

 

September 22-October 1

Evidence-informed Policy Briefing Workshop

The PEP Communications team held a three-part workshop to share key principles and best practices for communicating evidence-informed policy advice. These sessions were for all members of PAGE II-Round 3 teams to learn about and discuss strategies and tools for the effective dissemination of their findings in their respective countries.

Download the presentations

 

October 5-15

Presentations of research findings & policy recommendations

As the first cohort of PEP research co-producers to come to the end of their projects, they shared their project findings and conclusions in two ways.

The researcher team members presented their final reports outlining their scientific findings to an audience of their peers and PEP-affiliated international experts (below, left). After each presentation there was a period of discussion and peer-review. 

The government-affiliated members presented their policy recommendations to the members of the other PAGE II-Round 3 teams and policy outreach experts (below, right). These presentations were based on the teams’ policy papers. Members of the other project teams reviewed the presentation while members of PEP’s Policy Outreach Committee critiqued the papers.

These sessions provided valuable feedback to the teams to improve their reports, policy papers and presentations.

 

 

October 16

2020 Best Practice Awards

The PEP Best Practice Awards underline the importance of simultaneously embracing the scientific and policy engagement sides of the PEP projects. They reward PEP-supported project teams that have made outstanding efforts to pursue the highest scientific research standards while engaging with policy stakeholders to ensure that their evidence informs critical development policy decisions. 

This year, prizes were awarded to the highest-achieving team in each of the two methodological groups that are reaching the end of the project cycle:

 

 

October 16

2020 PEP Policy Conference

Research coproduction is a collaborative research model: researchers work in partnership with the knowledge users who have the authority or ability to use the findings to inform decisions.

PEP supports coproduced research projects involving local experts and government institutions. When researchers have a better understanding of the users’ contexts and needs, the relevance of their findings improves. At the same time, this collaboration helps policy actors to better understand the research process and how the evidence can and should be used to inform decisions.

However, such collaborations are not without challenges, scientists and policymakers often have different interests, and different perspectives on the issues. These challenges inspired the theme of the 2020 PEP Policy Conference, held as a public online event on October 16 to conclude the 2020 PEP Annual ConferenceDownload the concept note.

 

 

An international, inter-disciplinary conversation

More than 180 people from around the world attended, including researchers, international experts, stakeholders, donors, and decision makers. The discussions concentrated on how governments and academia can work together to produce reliable evidence to support policy decisions.

The event featured a keynote presentation and a panel discussion. Anita Kothari and David R. Walugembe from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, gave the keynote presentation on the “Coproduction of development research: Research that matters”. They looked at how coproduction takes places within development research and highlighted questions of power, sustainability and digital inequality as areas for frictions. They also provided recommendations to researchers and research-funders for successful collaboration.

Following the keynote presentation, the audience was invited to ask questions and contribute their thoughts on the advantages of and challenges to coproduced research.

The second half of the event was a panel discussion between four members of PEP project teams: two government-affiliated members and two researcher members.

The panellists were:

  • Francis Mwaijande, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Social Science Research at Mzumbe University, Tanzania
  • Namizata Binaté Fofana, Advisor for Gender and Research at the Ministry of Women, Family and Children, Côte d’Ivoire
  • Sifiso Ntombela, Chief Economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council, South Africa
  • Chitalu Miriam Chiliba, Research Fellow at the University of Zambia

Each panellist spoke of their experience and outlined lessons and recommendations. 

Matodzi Amisi, Senior Research Consultant at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, moderated the discussion and the question-and-answer session that followed. She provided key takeaways from the day’s presentations and discussions.

 

Conclusions…

The benefits of coproduction outweigh the costs. Coproducing evidence is important for the quality and relevance of the research as well as the usefulness and usability thereof in policy and practice. When research is undertaken with the intention to influence policy, working in partnership or collaborating with the intended evidence users is essential. Done well, coproduction is mutually beneficial for researchers and policy actors.

Coproduction means democratising the research process. Those involved must commit to shared knowledge generation and allow different perspectives to shape what is known about the issue of interest. They must recognise the value of the knowledge both sides are bringing to the table. 

Challenges to successful coproduction come from both sides. Careful planning and being aware of the power distribution within the research-policy team, and the wider systems of knowledge generation will help manage the challenges.

Coproduction is not limited to public policy use. Partners for knowledge production may include NGOs and civil-society organisations, especially when coproduced evidence can support their activism.
 

…and action points

Funding for research should incentivise coproduction. Research coproduction is a process and producing high-quality results will be resource-heavy and time-consuming.

Build genuine relationships based on trust between evidence producers and evidence users.

Acknowledge contributions that shape the outputs. This may include naming policy actors as authors if they give their time and share their experiences and expertise, whether or not they write research outputs.

 

Watch the full event (also available via the PEP Facebook page)

 

The 2020 PEP Annual Conference was held online. It was organized as part of the second PEP-PAGE initiative, with support from the Canadian government through the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Additional funding was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Global Affairs Canada under the Impact Evaluation Mentoring for Governments and Climate Change in Africa initiatives, respectively.

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