I’ve created a new blog on Linking knowledge domains: knowledge integration across boundarieswhich aims to act as an access point for work on cross-domain knowledge integration which I’ve been doing for IKM Emergent over the past few years in collaboration with Josine Stremmelaar of Hivos and Wenny Ho. In particular, it will link to the seminar which took place on 23-24 January 2012 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
On 22 September 2011, I took part in a panel ”From the Editor’s desk”, convened by Wendy Harcourt and Kees Biekart at the EADI/DSA General Conference in York, UK. The session was conducted as an open discussion among 6 journal editors on the new publishing arrangements with the coming of the digital age among development journals looking at both the opportunities and the current squeeze for resources.
There were 6 editors who took part in the exchange, five of whom are journal editors:
Wendy Harcourt – Development
Kees Biekart – Development and Change
Brian Pratt – Development in Practice
Caroline Sweetman – Gender and Development
Robert Cornford – Oxfam Books
me – Knowledge Management for Development Journal (KM4D Journal)
When it was my turn to talk, I introduced the KM4D Journal and gave some background on how the journal has developed. It is the youngest journal of them all – then in its 7th volume – and it has, unusually, gone from being an Open Journal System journal to one published by the commercial publisher, Taylor and Francis.
After introducing the journal, I very briefly presented some research on development journals that I’ve been doing with Iina Hellsten of the VU University. Iina and I are doing a scientometric analysis of top development journals. As part of this, I presented a few slides showing our preliminary results in which we had considered the institutional and country location of authors of three development journals, based on a sub-set of articles concerned with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the years 2005-2008: namely World Development, the Journal of Development Studies and Development and Change.
This first slide reviews the institutional affiliations of authors. It shows (and I hope you can read it) that these journals are dominated by Northern institutions, both universities and international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Of the institutions listed here, only one, namely the University of Delhi, could be described as a Southern institution.
Our next slide is concerned with the location of the authors in terms of country. Here, you can see the dominance of authors located in the North, and particularly the USA (green) and the UK (blue). This dominance becomes even clearer when we look at the third and final slide in which the authors for World Development are divided between the developed and developing world.
These slides show a reality of development journals being dominated by Northern interests and authors. As I then concluded, this picture makes me doubt the role of development journals as being developmental.
Not for the first time when I’ve presented these results, I received some angry reactions. One participant argued that this was not a problem because authors in the South have their own journals and didn’t need access to the journals in my study. Another argued that although most of the authors are located in the North, they may well be Southerners, and that this undermined my argument. And that my approach was patronising to Southern academics.
As you can imagine, I was getting very worried and upset at this point, wondering if I was indeed chasing an irrelevant red herring…
But then, fortunately for me, Olivier Sagna of CODESRIA was in the audience. He argued that the difficulty of publishing in international journals was perceived as a huge problem by many African academics. He was also of the opinion that the fact that some of the authors were Southerners based in the North did not change the overall impression of bias. He noted that the brilliance of some Southern scholars was not recognised until they caught international attention by attaining senior positions in the North. When this happened, they found it easy to publish in international journals but before this, they had been just as good but had not been recognised.
Please see the full report of the panel, written by Wendy Harcourt.
The recent colloquium on Traducture & Translation: Creating intercultural dialogue in International Development held at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, London, United Kingdom from 27 – 29 May 2011, resembled an African gathering where elders share their wisdom and insights with curious young people around a fire place. Here Charles Dhewa shares his first impressions of the colloquium.
We are squeezed to death, between the two sides of that sort of alternative which is commonly called a cleft stick.
(William Cowper, 1782)
In the second of my personal reflections on the Evaluation revisited conference which took place in May 2010 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, I consider the relationship between complexity and evaluation, particularly theory and practice, and talk about the cartoonist, present at the conference. (more…)
At the end of May 2010, I attended – along with 150+ others, largely evaluation practitioners – the two-day conference on Evaluation revisited: improving the quality of evaluative practice by embracing complexity in Utrecht, The Netherlands. It has its own website here with more detailed information of the programme, presentations etc. This is the first part of my personal reflections on the conference which is part of a series of recent, development focused events on complexity which include the July 2009 workshop on How can complexity theory contribute to more effective development and aid evaluation? held at Panos in London, UK.
After exploring and discussing (on day 1) the various pieces of research work that have been undertaken in IKM-Emergent until now, the second day of the workshop started with a world café and continued with a ‘birds of a feather session’ (a marketplace / less-open space method) where we explored some ideas for the end of the programme and a potential IKM-Emergent 2 programme. The last day of the programme put us in action planning mode around crucial activities.
The programme has evolved since then and a number of things are coalescing on this first day of the all-peeps IKM-Emergent workshop (which brings together the three working groups, but also a number of new guests that are working on issues related to IKM-E and/or that will be working for the programme from now on).
The largest IKM event of 2009 was the Knowledge for Development workshop jointly organised with the Centre for Technical Assistance and the University of Namibia in November. The goal of the conference was to raise awareness of the importance of understanding the role of knowledge in development and to discuss what understandings of knowledges were most relevant to contemporary challenges of Southern Africa. Both aims were realised. The conference received considerable attention in the local media, including an hour long debate on the main current affairs TV show.
How do you plan and manage a research programme if you do not know what the outcomes will be? With great difficulty is the answer, particularly in the current climate where predictability is usually expected and measured. Such expectations can impose real constraints on research processes which aim to interact with and encourage the participation of other stakeholders. They can inhibit the identification and pursuit of news ideas which emerge as the research progresses.
These issues were discussed by a group of researchers, research intermediaries and research policy makers at a workshop in Trinity Hall, Cambridge on 17-18 September 2009. The workshop was convened by IKM Emergent, the Information Systems research group of the Judge Business School and by the Bridging the Digital Divide Group, a consortium of UK funded ICT4D projects whose experiences prompted the initial reflection on these issues. (more…)