The following entry was written by the management of the Global Development Network in response to our June 15 2009 post, A $3 million book with 8 readers? The impact of donor-driven research. The main point of our post was that GDN’s annual budget of $9 million had produced paltry results in publications, readers, or citations. We attributed this partly to a decision made early on to administer research through a bureaucracy rather than follow the meritocratic competition model of academic research.
The GDN response, which we received by email this week, is reproduced here verbatim:
A series of points raised the article merit clarifications for factual accuracy.
Objectives of GDN:
- generation and sharing of multidisciplinary knowledge for the purpose of development
Knowledge Creation, Publications and Career Development:
The GDN Independent Evaluation 2007 reported that:
- a median of two publication types per grant for Regional Research Competitions (RRCs) and for Global Research Projects (GRPs)
- GDN is supporting increased amounts of development research from within developing and transition countries
Several past studies noted evidence of higher numbers of citations in open access publications as opposed to expensive journals, although the evidence is not conclusive.
Nonetheless, there is a problem of access to the scientific literature in developing countries. In Gaule (2009), we find, controlling for the quality and field of research, that the reference lists of Indian scientists are shorter, contain fewer references to expensive journals, and contain more references to open access journals than the reference lists of Swiss scientists. (…) The goal of open access advocates to have all scientific publications freely available to the world from the day of publication is laudable. But in the short run, it is more important to make scientific publications freely available for developing countries, because this is where the problem really is. (Source)
GDN is committed to facilitating access, providing free of cost access to datasets and journals (J-STOR, Eldis); to all the GDN-funded research; as well as to almost 14,000 additional papers posted by researchers from developing and transition countries online in GDN’s Knowledge Base.
Cost-Effective Core Activities:
All GDN evaluations highlighted the cost effectiveness of its activities and the low overhead charged by the Secretariat (8-12%) compared to other similar organizations. The cost per study on average (2004-2007) in three noted GRPs have been:
- Bridging Research and Policy = $ 92,243
The budget for the 3 year Explaining Growth Global Research Project was, according to GDN’s financial records, less than $2 million dollars, including all thematic papers, case studies, capacity building workshops, mentoring fees (including Bill Easterly’s fee), publications and presentations at regional and global conferences.
GDN is “not a World Bank-supported effort to promote development research.” GDN is only partly funded by the World Bank, with a declining share over time.
GDN used regional networks to administer the project titled Explaining Growth (GRP) but grant allocation to researchers was competitive. Moreover, the Awards and Medals competition is an open competition with roughly 600-700 submissions annually. All RRCs and GRPs since Explaining Growth (the first one) have not been carried out in a “bureaucratic manner” but through open competitions, the modus operandi at GDN.
(1) For example, GDN’s publication series, designed to give voice to researchers from developing and transition countries, has released 13 books to-date, with several edited volumes from GDN’s first Global Research Project on “Explaining Growth.” In partnership with the series’ publisher – Edward Elgar, GDN is able to makes these books available for half price to individuals from developing and transition countries registered on its Knowledge Base and copies of all publications under the series will soon be available electronically free of cost to registered users of GDN’s website.
(2) Papers reviewed included all RRC papers available for FY02 and FY05 as well as papers randomly selected by the World Bank, produced through the other major GDN activities (GRPs, Awards and Medals Competition and Annual Conferences) in FY02 and FY05.