Sue Kinn on DFID’s approach to research

Sue Kinn is the Research Manager for the Health and Education Research Team from the Department for International Development (DFID). In this short video she discusses why research is so important for DFID and how they go about finding the evidence that is needed. DFID is committed to commissioning world-class research that directly improves people’s lives. They also want to make the research they fund available to those who can use it around the world. Scientists, policy makers and humanitarian organisations in poor countries run into significant barriers when accessing research findings. They need better access to research outputs to let them build upon and use this knowledge. Therefore DFID has in place an open and enhanced access policy for the research that they fund.

Research for Development (R4D) is an on-line portal containing the latest information about research funded by DFID, including details of current and past research. It contains over 35,000 project and document records. R4D is free to access and the search functionality allows research to be browsed by region, country or subject or searched using key words. There is also a search for research contacts. There is also the facility to subscribe to receive targeted alerts on research.

DFID funds research that can lead to new technologies and better ways of helping the poorest people in the world. They fund studies that look at whether funding is being used as effectively as it could be. Another area of research is focused on helping to improve governance and reduce corruption. More information about funding opportunities provided by DFID and their programme partners is available through the DFID website.

Another useful resource is the DFID Research News page, which includes latest news stories and key issues in the global fight against poverty through research and evidence. Also, examples of how DFID funded research is helping to tackle disease, hunger, poverty and climate change throughout the developing world, are available on a Research Case Study page.

A How to Note titled “Assessing the Strength of Evidence” aims to help assess the strength of evidence being used to inform policy and programming choices. DFID is making the guidance publically available, as it may be helpful to researchers and policy makers in government departments, research institutes and funding bodies. Identifying and using high quality research studies is challenging. The note aims to help people:

  • Understand different types of empirical research evidence
  • Appreciate the principles of high quality evidence
  • Consider how the context of research findings affects the way that staff might use them
  • Understand how to make sense of inconsistent or conflicting evidence

The note is an integral part of DFID’s commitment to equipping staff with the skills to improve their use of evidence. It forms part of several current initiatives to advance staff analytical skills. There are also plans to help staff use evidence and research. This will allow staff and researchers to make more informed decisions about how DFID spends taxpayers’ money on viable development projects.

In 2012, Sue Kinn gave an interview to TDR, a Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. In the interview Sue gives her views on the value of implementation research to meeting the global health challenges – “It’s quite clear that as we get more and more products and technologies being developed that we’re going to have what some people call an innovation pile-up where we have so many things sitting on the shelf and nobody knows how to implement them. We already have lots of things sitting on the shelf and we know that we could save many more lives if we implemented the things we know work well. But the trouble is we don’t know how to implement at scale and in many different environments. So implementation research helps us identify some of the barriers and facilitators to implementing. Scale is absolutely key for success. TDR is positioned right at the heart of what is required, having it fed in from all the other programmes developing products and doing research, there’s a real need for all these different processes and systems along the chain and TDR is part of that.” The full interview is available via the TDR website.


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