Conférences / Colloques

The Transformation of Research in the South : policies and outcomes

21 janvier 2016 22 janvier 2016
The Transformation of Research in the South : policies and outcomes
Conférences / Colloques
@ Paris

OECD Headquarters
Château de la Muette, 2 rue André Pascal, 75016 Paris

International conference organised by :

  • International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada
  • Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), France
  • Centre Population et Développement (IRD and Univ. Paris Descartes), Paris
  • Institut Recherche-Innovation-Société (IFRIS), France
  • OECD Development Center



How countries support public scientific research has a direct bearing on the capability of researchers to generate scientific knowledge, and of organizations to adapt or apply such knowledge. While many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are characterized by weak scientific capacity, there are signs of change in how governments support research and promote science.
In this dynamic context, some evident signs of change include the emergence of new or restructured organizations to steer public research or promote innovation ; new programmatic directions within such organizations ; increased funding dedicated to research in academic settings ; and, new domestic and international partnerships seeking to expand participation in and application of research. A multiplicity of organizations and funding sources have appeared, creating a complex web where resources circulate with knowledge in ways that are reshaping research systems in the South.
This Conference seeks to better understand the institutional, political and economic conditions driving these changes ; their consequences in terms of building scientific capacity and the broader application of results from scientific research ; and, the lessons for public policy. Panels and speakers will address specific case studies and comparative analysis of on-going changes, in specific research performing organizations and in the wider research system.


There is considerable interest and debate on how countries prioritize, organize, fund and evaluate their investments in research. Many important changes have emerged in recent years like opening research to new actors, increasing private funding, developing international collaborations, and modifying the way research is funded. These actions imply transformations in professional values, professional careers, management practices, international collaboration, mobility and exchange of information, and policy-making processes, all of which form the core of this Conference. There is a need to understand these changes, how they came about, how they are formulated in strategy documents and specific policies, and points of departure from previous policy frameworks. Taken together, how significant are these policy transformations for research and for development strategies more broadly ? Increasingly, research and innovation are prominent features of national development agendas but their contributions have received little attention. Abstracts are invited to analyze national or supranational experiences in developing scientific research policy frameworks, designing new or reforming existing institutions, and evaluations of those policies or institutions.


In most countries, public science is synonymous with university-based research. While many universities still struggle with delivering quality education, some countries are experimenting with new ways of strengthening their scientific capability. Incentives for researchers, national programs to establish research chairs or centres of excellence, prioritizing and funding research programs of national interest, mobilizing the international scientific diaspora, and supporting research infrastructure are some contemporary examples. Typically such efforts favour natural, exact and life sciences and raise questions about the balance and breadth of a country’s science base, in particular when comparing these disciplines to the humanities and social sciences. Abstracts are invited that examine the outcomes of national policies and programs designed to strengthen the research capacity of the university sector, and tensions arising from prioritizing specific domains, topics and disciplines. Analysis of the dynamic of university-based research in specific domains or disciplines in response to shifts in national policy or university governance would also be welcome.

Traditional distinctions are blurring between who generates and who utilizes research results. The scientific method is no longer the unique source of legitimate knowledge, as knowledge emerging from non-scientific groups or populations (also known as “indigenous” or local knowledge) is progressively gaining acceptance. By actively dismantling barriers to participation in science, public policy is redefining (explicitly or implicitly) the social contract between science and society. Public research institutions are being encouraged to work more closely with industry, or with societal / not for profit organizations to drive commercial and social innovation. Contested knowledge and new lines of research have been generated in the process, and further interactions with actors from both academic and non-academic backgrounds is becoming the rule rather than the exception. Some policies encourage this expanded participation in science by designing ‘open innovation’ platforms that promote collaboration and accelerate problem solving in technical and social domains. Abstracts are invited that identify the opportunities and challenges of science granting councils in promoting these emerging forms of participation, evaluation of such modalities, and their broader impact on shaping research.


Research performance and impact have until recently been measured and valued almost exclusively in terms of the knowledge production validated in the scholarly environment (peer reviewed publications, citations, journal impact factors and more). Other forms of knowledge production are usually more difficult to account for and the number of publications generated is but one indicator which does not accurately capture the variety of research practices, types of outputs generated or the anticipated societal impacts to which research is expected to contribute. In the wider interaction between public and private actors, and between different constituencies, the “traditional” measures of research impact are increasingly being questioned by researchers themselves. Private and public research organizations, as well as funding agencies, are seeking to demonstrate the value of public investments, and are in need of new assessment tools, both to validate their own strategies and to evaluate the larger effects of research on society. Abstracts are invited that present new or experimental developments including metrics, frameworks and approaches for tracking, measuring and evaluating research performance and diverse types of impact.


While numerous countries have long-standing interests in promoting international scientific cooperation, far fewer can point to sustained initiatives despite the fact that international mobility for training or research is known to be a major contributor to building research capacity. There is, however, a shift occurring with the emerging middle-income powers playing a leading role in designing and funding international scientific cooperation. As the research capacity of these and other countries have strengthened (institutions, research groups, universities, and private or NGO R&D), governments and research institutions have utilized scientific cooperation agreements and policy tools to support their own strategic objectives. This has led to a proliferation of bilateral science-based programs with North American and European countries, as well as a range of new South-South and so-called triangular cooperation programs. Through these diverse partnership arrangements, countries seek to advance a range of interests including strengthening scientific expertise, acquiring technology, promoting diplomatic relations, and tackling shared challenges like pollution, water scarcity, climate change, biodiversity, or disease prevention and control. Abstracts are invited that explore the actual dynamics and effects of international collaborations, as well as new developments in South-South, or triangular research cooperation.