Most of our social scientists are not institution based … they are there for hire—Research consultancies and social science capacity for health research in East Africa

Wight, D. (2008) Most of our social scientists are not institution based … they are there for hire—Research consultancies and social science capacity for health research in East Africa. Social Science and Medicine, 66(1), pp. 110-116. (doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.07.019)

[img]
Preview
Text
82816.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

244kB

Abstract

There is a serious shortage of senior African social scientists to lead health-related research in Africa. This is despite the existence of many African social science graduates, and decades of Northern funded research programmes intended to develop local capacity. To investigate the barriers to developing health social science research capacity in East Africa, 29 in-depth interviews, informal conversations and a group discussion were conducted with professionals in this field.

Respondents’ explanations for inadequate social science research capacity primarily related to under-development and global economic inequalities. However, a recurrent theme was the predominance of individually contracted research consultancies. These seem to divert university staff from academic research, supporting colleagues and training the next generation of researchers, stunt the institutional capacity of university departments, restrict the sharing of research findings and perpetuate donors’ control of the research agenda.

Although primarily due to macro-economic factors, limited research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa might be ameliorated by modifying the process by which much research is conducted. This exploratory study suggests that institutional research capacity might be strengthened if consultancy research were commissioned through institutions, rather than individuals, with the payment of substantial overheads.

Respondents’ explanations for inadequate social science research capacity primarily related to under-development and global economic inequalities. However, a recurrent theme was the predominance of individually contracted research consultancies. These seem to divert university staff from academic research, supporting colleagues and training the next generation of researchers, stunt the institutional capacity of university departments, restrict the sharing of research findings and perpetuate donors’ control of the research agenda.

Although primarily due to macro-economic factors, limited research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa might be ameliorated by modifying the process by which much research is conducted. This exploratory study suggests that institutional research capacity might be strengthened if consultancy research were commissioned through institutions, rather than individuals, with the payment of substantial overheads.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wight, Professor Danny
Authors: Wight, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Social Science and Medicine
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN:0277-9536
ISSN (Online):1873-5347
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Social Science and Medicine 66(1):110-116
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record