Lessons for out-scaling and Up-scaling from DFID’s RNRRS Studies and Research

Lessons for out-scaling and Up-scaling from DFID’s RNRRS Studies and Research

Key lessons for up-scaling and out-scaling of DFID research

This report consists of a series of short syntheses which bring together key lessons for up-scaling and out-scaling research based on 19 key reviews, summaries and reports detailing DFID natural resources research. Each synthesis provides background information and key points, while the lessons learned are illustrated using examples and case studies.

Key lessons learned include:

  • Start from what's on the ground: most successes in spreading the uptake of research findings came about when the people involved understood  what was happening on the ground, including indigenous  knowledge on practices and processes, and worked with it. This is true at the local level, in communities, and at administrative and government levels.
  • Understand the key players and build relationships: starting from what is on the ground leads to an understanding of who the key players and local champions  are, and how they operate. This mapping of institutions and understanding of their roles in a network are pre-requisites for deciding who we need to invite to join 'coalitions' (ie the groups of people and organisations who get
    together to out-scale or up-scale research findings). Understanding what they want and where they are coming from also helps build trust and relationships with them.
  • Be realistic about what can be achieve: sometimes one has to face up to the fact that the conditions for uptake of research findings just aren't  conducive. For example, experience shows that any innovation in developing countries where innovation frameworks and infrastructure are weak is tough. Outscaling and up-scaling research findings have a better chance of success where governments have encouraged
  • Partner, communicate, advocate and build capacity strategically: an understanding of the local context, the key players and what can realistically be achieved will help develop clear strategies for 'how'—partnering, communicating, advocating and building skills—out-scaling and up-scaling will be achieved. adoption of new technologies by, for example, supporting producer prices, subsidising inputs and credit for new technologies, and investing in irrigation, roads and marketing systems.
  • Capture your own learning and learn from others: it is essential to capture  opportunities to learn and share learning with others. Learning what works and what does not is going to be vital in out-scaling and up-scaling. A good way to capture lessons learned is through a formal system of monitoring and evaluation that emphasises learning rather than accountability.

However, one size does not fit all. The lessons learned will be worked, reworked and adapted by practitioners to different  situations.


  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.