The research activities of CREED are primarily aimed at improving the quality of our expertise. Faced with the conceptual or practical difficulties we encounter in implementing our activities, we seek to produce new knowledge that helps us overcome them. Our fully independent approach also deepens the link between knowledge production and development processes and reinforces our beliefs.
The results of our work are valued in the form of internal and external publications, academic and / or technical. Regarding the dissemination of our work, we want to reach the most relevant readers, that is to say those who make the best use of the knowledge produced. We will therefore focus on disseminating the findings of a geographically focused sectoral study in a local journal rather than an international rank A journal. We are also working on the format and presentation of the knowledge produced so that it is easily accessible.
Five projects are currently underway:
For the past 20 years, development funders have gradually adopted the practice of external evaluation to measure the quality of their work and the projects they finance. This practice has become the standard for monitoring and evaluation and has become professional, giving rise to true international engineering (including the European Commission’s Result Oriented Monitoring (ROM) device is a good illustration).
The field of research capacity building has followed the trend but, probably because of its specificities (strong link with public institutions, production of scientific knowledge, academic proximity), it has seen other forms of support emerge.
Some organizations have adopted the systematic practice of “mentoring” as a central element of their research capacity building work. Mentoring takes a variety of forms but generally consists of assigning scientific and technical advisors to all recipients in order to provide them with an external perspective on the progress of their project, on a continuous, regular or on-demand basis, both for beneficiaries only for the lessor. Intermediaries, scientific and technical advisers closely monitor, but at a distance, the development of a project and its externalities. Their position also makes it easier for the lessor to control and monitor the activities supported.
In this project, we hypothesize that it is possible to enrich the practice of mentoring to enable it to perform the function usually performed by external evaluation. The central idea is that mentoring could offer a viable alternative to traditional external evaluation approaches, which rely more on sophisticated technicality than on in-depth knowledge of context and social dynamics specific to the field of intervention – essential knowledge to understand and analyze a project in a relevant way. We address the following questions:
✔ What are the commonly accepted benefits and limitations of external evaluations?
✔ What are the commonly accepted benefits and limitations of mentoring?
✔ To what extent do approaches that use mentoring assign a role or an evaluation capacity to mentors?
✔ Based on what assumptions, under which conditions and with what potential gain could the role of the mentor be broadened and structured to bring the knowledge usually borne by external evaluation?
It will then be necessary to specify the conditions for implementing such a practice and in particular the necessary skills.
If Science is the grouping of knowledge acquired by humanity, considered universal truths, it is not the case of research which, it, produces new knowledge to follow a long process of questioning and confrontation by peers and through their use or implementation before becoming Science made (Latour, 2001). Research, as a practice, groups actions that follow a scientific approach but produces little truth. This is particularly the case for Humanities and social sciences (HSS), intimately linked to the data they analyze.
A good example of the complex relationship between analysis and context is the difficulty for the sociologist or anthropologist to construct his or her research subject. The physicist or the chemist does not have to ask a question: a calcium ion is the same, whether it is in Norway, Japan or Burkina Faso, fifty years ago or tomorrow. Research in HSS, strongly linked to its environment, must be contextualized to contribute, if not to Science, to the understanding of the social phenomena and, if possible to the collective well-being. Hence the importance of having reliable data, often collected during a “field” study, necessarily specific to a historical, political and geographical context.
Yet in many developing countries, and particularly in Africa, HSS research is not contextualized. The structural weaknesses of higher education and the characteristics of the global knowledge market are probably the main explanatory factors. The consequences of this non-contextualization of HSS research are numerous and little known. Intuitively, we can argue a lack of appropriation of scientific results by research actors, a weakness of the participation of the academic sector in the definition of public policies, but also the maintenance of a domination of the North as regards the definition of the diaries. More directly for higher education, this probably entails difficulties in developing settlement strategies, defining training curricula (what is the place of research in these curricula?) And influencing the habits of teacher-researchers and students as much as the relationships that develop between them (perpetuation of vertical practices of knowledge transfer?).
When addressing development issues in light of the above, the lack of contextualization of HSS research is proving to be a barrier to socio-economic progress based on knowledge. Promoting quality research in and by developing countries is therefore becoming a key issue for international cooperation agencies, whose programs also have undeniable negative effects (Adriansen, 2016).
The historical, profound and universal foundations of the academic world sometimes suggest that the production and transmission of knowledge follows immutable processes. The recent evolution of higher education proves that it is not so. This sector of activity, like the others, is transformed, basically and formally, by globalization and the ongoing digital revolution.
The aim of the project is to identify what, in the current dynamics that characterize global and African higher education in particular, contributes to a greater contextualization of HSS research in Africa. It is based on the testimony of researchers and academic authorities from West Africa (Ivory Coast, Senegal, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso) and the East (Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya), on the basis of a detailed documentary study taking into account CREED’s experience in the field of international scientific cooperation.
First, we seek to show that African research in HSS is not currently sufficiently contextualized for it to play its full societal role. We will then discuss the consequences of this lack of contextualization. The hypotheses formulated above, enriched by the data collected, will be questioned. Finally, we wish to update the current transformations of the higher education and research sector at global and local scales, in order to discuss to what extent these transformations contribute to a greater or less contextualization of African HSS research.
The findings of this project will allow us to identify the key factors that enable African higher education and research systems to foster the contextualization of HSS research, and thus improve or expand our services and training. again.
The importance of knowledge, knowledge and, as a corollary, education in development processes is well established. International cooperation in the field of higher education and research is the professional space in which the tools for the production and transmission of knowledge are shared, while seeking to strengthen the capacities of developing countries to produce and disseminate knowledge. new.
Information and communication technologies profoundly change the practices of those involved in scientific and university cooperation. While they allow, in fact, the diffusion for all and at a lower cost of the knowledge, the analysis of the phenomenon reveals its complexity and raises many questions as well on the current practices as on their consequences in terms of development: standardization knowledge, liberalization of the international education market, perverse effects on local institutions, devaluation and decontextualization of knowledge, contribution to the reinforcement of social inequalities, etc.
After recalling the place of knowledge and knowledge in the field of power and discussing to what extent its importance is taken into account in the practices of the sector of scientific cooperation for development, we will draw up an inventory of the positive and negative effects of ICT in these practices. The cross-fertilization of our analyzes with the views expressed by a number of academics, researchers and academic authorities from different developing countries will help identify some of the conditions for ICSTs to fulfill their promises.
The environment for undertaking socially relevant and useful research in developing countries is most often characterized by both systemic and extraneous factors that lead to low research capacity, sub-standard quality of research, poor advice to governments, or unused knowledge. This ultimately may also impact the quality of public opinion and policy discourse in these countries. A comprehensive review of existing literature identifies a number of factors that directly or indirectly and in varying magnitudes affects the way research, particularly in social sciences, is undertaken and disseminated in developed as well as developing countries around the world. The essential elements inter alia, of this “research ecosystem” include a) the quality of higher education institutes (HEIs) that exist, b) think-tanks or research institutes and their linkages with the HEIs, c) policy framework that is supportive of an independent academia, an independent research agenda and research uptake, d) stakeholder groups like industrial or civil society groups or media that translate research into policy inputs or material to influence public opinion, and finally e) the ability of the research system to attract, nurture and retain talent.
The factors that determine the quality of the research ecosystem, themselves operate within a larger institutional framework that determines their effectiveness. This larger institutional framework encompasses a broader range of issues which include a) the political-economic framework within which the research systems operate (existence of rule of law and guarantee for freedom of expression), b) a regulatory and quality assurance framework for higher education and research that directly determines the quality of HEIs and their internal research environment, c) availability of physical infrastructure and agglomeration of institutions of similar calibre and strength determining opportunities of networking, collaboration and inter-disciplinary research, d) presence of information dissemination mechanisms signifying the ease of getting published, e) nature and quantum of funding that is available, which in varying degrees determine the research agenda and f) the accountability and incentive mechanism through which researchers are linked to their institutions and which in turn are linked to funding agencies (whether public or private).
The literature on research environment is, however, silent on the existence of a clear set of defining properties that characterizes a high quality and productive research environment. A high quality research environment is almost always assumed to exist in developed countries, although there is a lot of variance in the way research is produced and disseminated in these countries. Most importantly, the mode of production of research in the developed countries has evolved significantly, often in tandem with evolution in polity and changes in economic modes of production. While frequently, countries in the developing world have tried to emulate the different models of research production from developed countries in North America or Europe, in most cases the mode of knowledge production and dissemination has remained archaic and most often a function of their historical-political legacies. On the other hand, there also exist many isolated islands of excellence in social science research in developing countries despite several constraining factors that frequently hamper quality research production. At the level of organizations, the research culture or informal relations and processes that define funding, promotions, peer reviews, professional networking abilities and mentor-researcher relationships also play an important role and it would be interesting to examine these.
Guiding questions of this project are :
✔ How is research produced?
✔ How is research capacity building organized?
✔ How does demand for research emerge?
✔ How to measure the research environment?
This project, currently under construction, aims to demonstrate the importance of diversity of knowledge for any change process. The hypothesis we wish to verify is that diversity of knowledge is as essential as biodiversity for our societies. From a methodological point of view, we compare the determining factors of biodiversity and the different elements making up the diversity of knowledge. Field research is envisaged in three different cultural areas.