In Maputo last month, as part of a workshop put together by the CGIAR ICT-KM Program, FARA and DFID-R4D to examine ‘opening access to agricultural research, we disucced.ways to enhance the ‘applicability’ of agricultural research outputs.  See also previous posting


Nadia Manning-Thomas brought together the discussions on ‘how to make our research more applicable’, as follows:


1.       Priority setting: We need better methods and consistent approaches to help achieve priority setting. Need to make sure to include all key stakeholders in our priority setting exercises.


2.       Re-orient our thinking about the contribution of research to development goals: We often plan our research according to the things we are good at, the things we know how to do, and then see how what we find as a result of doing our methods can contribute to something larger (a goal). Instead, we need to think more about the real problems, needs and goals and how we can contribute to solving them.


3.       Collaborating and partnerships: It is key that partners and stakeholders are engaged in our research and that we cultivate appropriate relationships with them. But we cannot just acquire partners or form partnerships in name. It is vital to make our research more applicable to know when and how to make collaboration effective. We need to know with which partners we should be working and on what types of activity, so we can enrich the research process for all involved.


4.       How to get an effective multiplier effect for participation: How can we find more effective ways to facilitate participation in our projects, to implement them despite budgetary and time restraints, and also to have multiplier effects?


5.       Embed research in reality: To make research more applicable, we need to fit our research to the particular contexts in which we are working. It is also vital to look at the whole value chain. This will help to make it more applicable to real life conditions.


6.       Develop and use knowledge products as tools: Very often research institutes produce various products such as policy briefs and the emphasis is on the end-product. These products in themselves will not necessarily do anything. It is necessary to think differently about products as tools in a more active and dynamic process of influencing and providing information for decision-making. Therefore we must design products so they fit the ways we hope they will be used.


What ways could this agenda be taken forward? The group came up with the following:


·           Learn how to make better use of infomediaries

·           Pay attention to better attribution to our partners

·           Provide more information and guidance on the use of web 2.0 tools for learning and communication with others

·           Make sure all references we include to our own outputs and publications are also themselves accessible, and ‘hotlinked’

·           Examine ways to get feedback from partners, stakeholders, next users, end users etc

·           Define some conditions around applicability which we can use within our systems, such as DFID communication budget conditions

·           Better characterize, tag and assign metadata that will help people make use of data and information

·           Explore how collaborative learning platforms (including virtual ones) can be designed and implemented to help us work with a wide range of stakeholders

·           Learn more about potential of web 2.0 and mobile phones to collaborate with stakeholders to get their inputs and feedback and to share knowledge with them


Nadia Manning-Thomas reflected on some of these issues at a recent research communication workshop in Addis Ababa:


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 The Maputo session was jointly organized by the CGIAR ICT-KM Program, FARA, and DFID’s R4D project led by CABI







Link to ICT-KM background paper for the Science Council –


Link to AAA concept on ICT-KM –


Link to ICT-KM –


Link to FARA –


More on this topic from DFID-R4D:


Link to CIARD: