Benchmarking health research capacity within sub-Saharan African (SSA) Universities

This study aims to accelerate the development of essential health research capacity in sub-Saharan African (SSA) Universities in order that they may be better able to contribute to the resolution of national health challenges and equitably partner in the global health research effort.  This will be achieved by developing ‘tiered’ benchmarks of health research capacity based on regional norms that may be used to assess existing capacities in SSA Universities across a range of relevant health research and research support domains and to measure subsequent ‘shifts’ in capacity following health research capacity strengthening (HRCS) intervention. The benchmarking tools will provide the means to reliably inform the design, implementation and evaluation of HRCS interventions within SSA Universities

Abstract

This study aims to accelerate the development of essential health research capacity in sub-Saharan African (SSA) Universities in order that they may be better able to contribute to the resolution of national health challenges and equitably partner in the global health research effort.  This will be achieved by developing ‘tiered’ benchmarks of health research capacity based on regional norms that may be used to assess existing capacities in SSA Universities across a range of relevant health research and research support domains and to measure subsequent ‘shifts’ in capacity following health research capacity strengthening (HRCS) intervention. The benchmarking tools will provide the means to reliably inform the design, implementation and evaluation of HRCS interventions within SSA Universities

Where does the project lie on the Translational Pathway?

T3 – Evidence into Practice, T4 Practice to Policy/Population

Expected Outputs

Publications: 1) Benchmarking methodology; 2) Presentation of HRCS ‘tiers’ (estimate 4 discrete tiers ranging from lower to higher HRCS capacity); 3) Pathways to moving across HRCS tiers.

Funding: Once the benchmarks (4 HRCS tiers) have been completed, I anticipate opportunities to develop, test and scale-up targeted interventions designed to facilitate shifts in heath research capacity across tiers (i.e. to achieve a demonstrable increase in health research capacity as measured by a shift from a lower to a higher tier).  All major UK (and many international) health research funders currently support health research capacity strengthening initiatives in LMICs, so there should be multiple and ongoing funding opportunities.

Impact:  Once completed, the benchmarks will provide the first standardised means to reliably measure the outcome of institutional-level health research capacity strengthening initiatives in SSA.  This should result in a stronger evidence-base to inform effective HRCS intervention in SSA.  This will in-turn accelerate the development of health research capacity in the region which will in-turn contribute to improved population health & economic development.

Training Opportunities

The proposed project will involve close collaboration with leading SSA health research funders (e.g. Wellcome FCDO), SSA research governance (e.g. Science for Africa) and SSA research institutions (to be determined).  Accordingly, the student will develop relationships with individuals, organisations and networks prominent in Global Health research activities in SSA.

Skills Required

Experience in, and/or understanding of, principles and procedures of programme monitoring and evaluation; well developed communication and inter-personal skills; experience or interest in applied field work in SSA context.

Key Publications associated with this project

Pulford J, Crossman S.J, Begg S, Amegee Quach J, Abomo P, Ding Y, El Hajj T & Bates I. Guidance and conceptual tools to inform the design, selection, and evaluation of research capacity strengthening interventions. BMJ Global Health. 2021; 6(3): e005153

Pulford J, Crossman S.J, Begg S, Amegee Quach J, Abomo P, El Hajj T & Bates I. Strengthening research management and support services in sub-Saharan African universities and research institutions [version 2; peer review: 2 approved]. AAS Open Research. 2020; 3:31.

Pulford J, Price N, Amegee Quach J & Bates I. Measuring the outcome and impact of research capacity strengthening initiatives: A review of indicators used or described in the published and grey literature [version 1; peer review: 4 approved] F1000Research 2020, 9:517.

Dean L, Gregorius S, Bates I & Pulford J. Advancing the science of health research capacity strengthening in low- and middle-income countries: A scoping review of the published literature, 2000-2016. BMJ Open. 2017; 7e018718.

Cole D, Boyd A, Aslanyan G & Bates I. Indicators for tracking programmes to strengthen health research capacity in LMICs: a qualitative synthesis. Health Research Policy & Systems. 2014: 12; 17.

Now Accepting Applications 

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS: Application Portal closes: Wednesday 9th February 2022 (12:00 noon UK time)

Shortlisting complete by: End Feb/early March 2022

Interviews by: Late March/early April 2022

For more information on Eligibility, funding and how to apply please visit the MRC DTP/CASE pages