Accountability principles for research organisations

Accountability principles for research organisations

Accountability principles and practices for research organisations

A significant proportion of funds aimed at development are allocated to research. This investment in research is done on the basis that rational policy processes rely on good evidence. Research organisations generating this evidence can have great impact on the citizens of a country. As such, it is important that they remain accountable.

Accountability for research organisations means engaging with the wider policy community and potential beneficiaries of the research. While there have been great leaps forward in a number of areas linked to accountability such as advances in participatory research methods, evaluation of research and community empowerment, the field lacks a unifying overview. This study aims to provide one such overview. [adapted from the author]

This study is designed for managers and researchers of policy research organisations working in developing countries. It provides a set of principles and practical guidelines to help them reflect on their organisation’s accountability.

Sections cover:

  • Motivations for an organisation to be accountable: this draws on the good practices examples increasingly being highlighted in the literature. It starts with four central principles of accountability: participation, evaluation, transparency and feedback. Using this as a working definition of accountability, it explores from both an instrumental and a normative perspective to which stakeholders a research organisation should be accountable and why.
  • Exploring the tensions and constraints facing different types of organisations when they seek to hold themselves accountable. It is based on work with sixteen diverse research organisations researching in developing-country contexts.
  • Defining in greater depth what accountability means in practice and how its principles may be implemented. This section delineates nine broad processes and two policies. Based on the foregoing discussion, it describes for different research organisations the key stakeholders who should be consulted, reviews key methods which will enable a research organisation to be more accountable, and discusses practical issues and tensions in their implementation.
  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.