vision and mission
Vision: IER strives to be one of the leading economic research institutes in Africa by 2025.
Mission: IER assist the economic development of the society by conducting collaborative problem-based research, consultancy, and community services.
What we do? We do three things
- Problem based research.
- Consultancy services on need basis.
- Community services
Tag line and working philosophy: We Think Differently!
- Continuous innovation
- Open for critics and reform
- Active stakeholder engagement
- Strong commitment for research quality
- Impact policy and practice to bring change in the lives of people
- Collaborative and Interdisciplinary research
How we do?
The how we do is depicted in the following research process flow chart and accompanying explanation to each phase of the research process flow chart. But before that below we explain the rationale behind the development of a research flow chart.
Research is a systematic series of activities conducted to achieve the known goals of contribution to knowledge development and generating useful recommendations that can change an existing policy or practice. Successful conduct of research requires the involvement of many actors such as research funders, researchers, research administrators, policy makers, and practitioners. The involvement of many stakeholders requires that the activity should be managed in a systematized manner. Flow chart can help to visualize the series of activities to be done to achieve the goals of research. Specifically they depict activities in sequential way so that everyone knows which activity comes from or following which activity. Besides, it helps to clearly depict the roles of each stakeholder in the whole research process. It is with such purpose a research flow chart is developed.
- Generating Research Thematic Areas and Subthemes
Each research division develops the research themes and subtheme in its own specialty area. The research themes and subthemes are initially identified by each division expert though a review of the existing literature (such as academic literature, government policies and strategies documents, five year plans like GTP etc). Then consultations are made with stakeholders (academics, practitioners and policy makers) for refinements of the research themes and subthemes.
The research theme identified through the consultation process is wider issues that have multi-sectoral implication. Besides, our researches are directed to address the core issue to be solved in the Amhara region and not all issues. Prioritization of research problems is a must as we have limited resource to conduct research on all areas. Furthermore a research thematic area should be valid for 5 years period (like the GTP) after which we will change it based on existing circumstances. Annually our plan for the first year is to focus on the most pressing issue in that year. The second, third and other follow-up years are allotted either for other subthemes of secondary, tertiary etc importance or the topic address in year one can be followed in a panel data fashion if we want to investigate the development impacts of interventions. After each division develops its own research themes and subthemes, consultations are made between divisions for identifying communalities of research themes and subthemes so that redundancies can be avoided.
2. Announcing Call for Concept Notes
Having the refined research themes and subthemes under each division, IER announce one call for concept note that include all the pressing issues of each division in the calendar year concerned.
3. Concept Note Development
Researchers from various walks of life (IER researchers, college researchers, PG students etc) will form their own research groups and submit their concept notes. Research teams should be composed of both academics and practitioners for the research to be participatory and later implementable. The concept note should include the technical idea and the CV of the participating researchers. Possibly the source of research funding can be roughly incorporated in the concept note with cofounding by BDU and outside funders. The sections a concept note should incorporate will be released in another template document. The best concept note for further proposal development will be selected through a competitive process and a serious blind review mechanism. The review here focus on the smartness of the idea or research question, the profile and mix of researchers from academics and practitioners and less on methodological rigor. Methodological rigor will be looked upon in the proposal developed later.
4. Research Proposal Development
Those research groups whose concept note is accepted will be invited to develop the full length proposal. The proposal selection process again will be competitive and will pass through a blind review mechanism. The review here focuses on methodological rigor rather than the soundness of the research question. The proposal should clearly indicate a review of the existing literature, the gap in literature filled by the current study, the practical problem addressed by the study, the objectives of the study, the significance of the study for policy making, improving practice and filling gap in literature, detailed methodological section dealing with data generation process and data analysis, time and cost breakdown. Detailed proposal templates will be released by the institute.
5. Data Collection
After announcing the selected proposal, IER will fund the research and the researchers will go to data collection. Only 70% of the funds will be released for data collection. This even may be broken down in phases if the data collection tasks are huge and conducted in phases. The remaining 30% of funds will be used to cover the expense of organizing workshop and publication in journals. The concerned researchers who take funds have to settle their expense with the finance section of the university by presenting a valid source document.
After the researchers collect the data, they will present a progress report on the collected data, the major achievements, challenges faced in data collection, an exploratory analysis of the data like report on reliability and validity, descriptive statistics, regression results. If it is a qualitative study, excerpts from FGD, KII, document reviews, observation etc should be presented in the progress report. The progress report will be used to evaluate on whether the researchers are moving in the right direction and if so continued funding should be made. If no satisfactory progresses are made, the research can be discontinued unconditionally and researchers will be required to refund the university for previously allocated funds. Thus the progress report is a major decision point to continue or discontinue the research.
6. Report Writing
The final report will be prepared after a thorough analysis of the data is made through advanced statistical and non-statistical approaches depending on the design of the study. A progress report is needed at this stage also. But here we need the full length research paper in thesis format together with the raw data in excel/stata format.
7. Dissemination to academics only through workshops and conferences
The first report should be presented to an academic forum only to get serious feedback. IER will organize these forums and will also assign an external reviewer for the paper who will seriously review the paper and give feedback to the researchers on the conference or workshop date. The purpose of making an academic only workshop earlier is to get the researchers enough feedback so that it is good for advising practitioners and policy makers later. Alternatively the feedback from academic forums will be useful to researchers when they send their articles to journals for possible publication. Their paper will easily pass and published. Besides presenting in IER academic forums, researchers are encouraged and should have a plan to present their paper in national and international conferences organized elsewhere. IER will support their workshop expense up to a reasonable number of workshops or conference per paper and allowable expense items.
Adjust the explanation to the Research Process Flow Chart in Line with the adjusted diagram to include some new routes and arrows.
After researchers get feedback from academic forums (IER forums, national and international conferences), they should send their articles to journals for possible publication. Because it is an enriched paper through different academic forums, the papers acceptance rate in journals will be high. The institute accepts publications in non-predatory journals and the university website need to be consulted on the list of acceptable journals. Particularly preference is made for articles published in Web of Science (WoS) indexed journals. These are International Science Index (ISI) and International Bibliography of Social Science (IBSS) indexed journals.
9. Dissemination to practitioners and policy makers only through workshops and conferences
After academic forums are conducted, the findings of the papers can be disseminated to policy makers and practitioners in a separate forum organized for their purpose only. We don’t feel the need to wait for the paper to be published as it may take much time like 2 or 3 years. By that time, the findings of the paper may be obsolete to advise policy makers and practitioners. So for a timely advice of stakeholders, disseminations of the research findings will be made to these group of stakeholders in various plat forms which includes regional or national workshops and conferences, policy briefs or action plans, abstracts of researches posted in website etc. But with the usual caveats surrounding research findings need to be communicated. Research findings can’t be 100% correct and hence stakeholders need to be advised to read or use the research report at this phase with the necessary questioning mind.
10. Follow up the implementation of the research recommendations by practitioners (policy makers) and generate new research questions
After communicating the research findings to outside stakeholders, we need to follow up the implementation of the recommendations. If they are not implemented, we also need to know the reasons and devise an appropriate strategy so that they can implement them. Active stakeholder engagement is needed for them to implement the recommendations. Particularly we need to study and know the gap existing between the academic circle and policy making circle in working together for a common end. The relationships between the two groups is not an easy one and this need to be improved with continuous consultations and devising an appropriate strategy to make the communication smooth. For this task, knowledge brokers that mediate the two can be employed. If we keep quite the research output may be put on the shelf and our research will not have any impact. If the recommendations are implemented, we have to follow up the changes made in the lives of our people as a result and generate a new research question.