Local Research for Better Lives


Photo by Jessica Ruscello/Unsplash

GDN has launched an innovative program to investigate the challenges of doing quality social-science research in developing countries. Informed by a two year pilot (2014-16), the Doing Research program partners with national research institutions in developing countries to assess local social science research systems. By contributing to a better objective assessment of research systems for social sciences in developing countries, it aims to expose weaknesses and shortcomings that can be addressed through better-informed national research policy.

The production, diffusion and use of locally-grounded social science research is key to democratic debate and planning for sustainable development. Building on the current discourse on knowledge systems, the program puts forward a full-fledged definition of what a research system is, and operationalizes it to investigate the national environment for social science research in three main dimensions: context, actors, and systemic features.

The program proposes the Doing Research Assessment, a three steps method to study national social science research systems through a context analysis, stakeholder mapping and an indicator-based theoretical framework. The program will produce both national and global reports, all datasets will be available in open access, and all outputs will be translated in accessible outreach material to support awareness and action on social science research.

Read more about the Doing Research program stages, download our additional resources such as infographics, webinars and videos. Read program fact sheet.

Advisory Committee

GDN has constituted a new Advisory Committee for the Doing Research program. It is currently composed of the following:

  • Fred Carden, Founder of Using Evidence and former Director of Evaluation at IDRC
  • Anindya Chatterjee, Regional Director for Asia at IDRC
  • Shanta Devarajan,  Senior Director for Development Economics (DEC) at the World Bank
  • Gargee Ghosh, Director of Development Policy & Finance at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Patrick Guillaumont, President of the Foundation for Studies and Research on International Development (FERDI)
  • Heide Hackmann, Chief Executive Officer of the International Science Council (ISC)
  • Jon-Andri Lys, Executive Secretary, Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE)
  • Lynn V. Meek, Professor at University of Melbourne and Founder of the LH Martin Institute *pilot phase
  • Eunice Muthengi, Deputy Head of the DFID East Africa Research Hub
  • Aleko Sarris, Emeritus Professor, Department of Economics, University of Athens
  • Nelson Torto, Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences
  • James Wilsdon, Vice-Chair of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) and Professor at Sheffield University


The Doing Research pilot phase was generously supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Agence Française de Développement, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation for US$785,000 from 2014-2016. Now, GDN is leading the creation of a coalition of donors and partners to support the Doing Research Assessments across 50 countries. 

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