Institutionalizing research capacity strengthening in LMICs

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Software Used : : EndNote X6.0.1, Mendeley1.19.4 and Jabref 5.0 during the screening process and Redcap 9.0 for the data extraction. Manual Processing Abstract Background: Evidence on effective strategies to ensure sustainability of research capacity strengthening interventions in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) institutions is lacking. This systematic review identified publications describing research capacity building programs and noted their effect, their contexts, and the mechanisms, processes and social actors employed in them. Methods: We searched online databases for the period 2011-2018. Inclusion criteria were that the publications 1) described the intervention; 2) were implemented in LMICs; 3) were based in, or relevant to, university staff or post docs; 4) aimed to improve research capacity; 5) aimed to effect change at the institutional level. Two reviewers screened titles, abstracts and full text in consecutive rounds, a third resolved disagreements. Two people extracted the data of each full text using a data extraction tool covering data relevant to our question. Results: In total 4052 citations were identified and 19 papers were included, which referred to 14 interventions. Only three interventions mentioned using a conceptual framework to develop their approach and none described using a theory of change to assess outcomes. The most frequent inputs described were some method of formal training, promotion of a research-conducive environment and establishment of research support systems. A range of outcomes were reported, most frequently an increased number of publications and proportion of staff with PhDs. When factors of success were discussed, this was attributed to a rigorous approach to implementation, adequate funding, and local buy-in. Those who mentioned sustainability linked it to availability of funds and local buy-in. The lack of a common lexicon and a framework against which to report outcomes made comparison between initiatives difficult.


The Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) is jointly led by the African Population and Health Research Center and the University of the Witwatersrand and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York [B 8606.R02], Sida [54100029], and the DELTAS Africa Initiative [107768]. The DELTAS Africa Initiative is an independent funding scheme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) with funding from the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the UK government. During a significant part of the time in which this work was done, SF was supported by a Fullbright Senior Fellow Award at the University of Southern California, an award from the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and an Anderson Capelli fellowship.