Meeting in Muzzafarpur, Bihar, India
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Engaging with research for real impact

The state of research in the INGO sector and ways forward for better practice

13 March 2019Bond, Leverhulme Trust, The Open University

International non-government organisations (INGOs) engage with research in many forms, from adapting, synthesising and using existing research to commissioning new research or participating in research governance and collaborations.

This report supports INGOs to thoroughly consider their options for engaging with evidence and develop more strategic approaches to using, generating and communicating research.

By showcasing a range of innovative examples of practice and exploring the many challenges involved in this complex work, it provides guidance to those developing a research approach within their organisation.

The report draws on the findings of a three-year research study on the different ways in which UK-based INGOs are engaging with research and the common challenges involved. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the study also identified sector-wide support structures which can help INGOs address these challenges.

Key findings from the report

  1. Research governance in INGOs varies considerably with some tension identified between the different understandings of research, particularly in the larger INGOs.
  2. INGO research practices are unconventional, unfolding in multiple spaces and across different timeframes. While INGO research generates a range of methods and outputs, these unconventional approaches demand new support systems.
  3. INGO researchers differ from academic researchers and come from diverse backgrounds. As well as conventional research skills, other notable “research literacies” include the ability to broker diverse knowledge communities, provide mentoring support and communicate effectively.

Read the accompanying blog, “How can INGOs use research to drive their missions?“.

Download Report