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Collaborative Research Approach

IFS has recognized the importance of support to individual researchers for nearly four decades and will continue to provide renewable individual grants. However, the interlinked development challenges that face humanity increasingly require scientists to work with each other, sometimes uniting different disciplines, different countries and regions. Therefore, through the phased introduction of a new collaborative research approach, the 2011-2020 Strategy will also provide support for researchers to combine strengths, expertise, and experience, to address a larger topic or a research issue including situations where more than one discipline is required. IFS believes that through collaborative research, early career scientists can learn new insights from each other, can develop new skills and eventually also gain access to different funding sources.

Through support and mentoring we aim to reduce possible barriers which may include:

  • difficulties in finding appropriate working partners,
  • reaching consensus and team building,
  • clarification of intellectual property rights,
  • ownership of data, credit for work,
  • differences (amongst disciplines) in the nature and scope of knowledge,
  • different methodologies or analytical frameworks,
  • inaccurate preconceptions about other disciplines,
  • difficulty in learning the ‘languages’ of other disciplines.

It is anticipated that collaborative research could be across departments in a single institution (e.g. natural and social scientists working together with technical specialists - able to take a holistic approach and tackle a bigger development problem than one may tackle alone), across a country (e.g. where a common issue such as cyanide toxicity of tube well water might be spatially investigated), or across regions (e.g. where climate change resilience being investigated amongst communities in similarly affected places in say East, West or South Africa might be shared and compared).

We see a vital role for IFS as a platform for linking early career scientists from developed and developing countries in research collaboration.

A downloadable pdf description of the IFS Collaborative Research Grants is available here.

A pilot project of the Collaborative Research Approach was launched in October 2012, limited to young scientists in 5 African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda) and limited in scientific scope to research on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS). Ten small teams comprising 38 researchers were awarded Collaborative Research Grants at the end of 2013. This pilot was financed by the Carnegie Corporation and the Carolina Mac Gillavry fund.

The second pilot project, expanded to include 8 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda), was launched in 2014. Scientifically it was limited to research on Biodiversity and resulted in Grants being given to 13 small teams comprising 48 researchers. This second pilot, was backed with multi-donor support (Carnegie Corporation, Belgium Science Policy Office, and the Carolina Mac Gillavry fund).

A third pilot project was launched in January 2016, limited to young researchers in 9 Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam) and the scientific scope restricted to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation. This pilot was backed by the financial contribution of SEARCA.

These pilot projects will be evaluated in due time and the permanent Collaborative Research Grants Programme developed and made available to all eligible researchers in developing countries.


Read also IFS former Director Graham Haylor's paper:
Breaking Fences May Make for Good Neighbours in Collaborative Research
written in conjunction with the launching of the Collaborative Research Approach pilot in October, 2012.

Read also the IFS Strategy 2011-2020 - Working Together.

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