Institutionalizing research capacity strengthening in LMICs: A systematic review and meta-synthesis

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. Conclusions: The reduced number of interventions that met the inclusion criteria suggests that programs should be well-described, evaluated systematically, and findings published so that the research capacity strengthening community can extract important lessons.
higher education, capacity development, Productivity, research capacity strengthening
Citation Vicente-Crespo, M., Agunbiade, M. O., Eyers, J., Thorogood, M., & Fonn, S. (2020, August 14). Data From: Institutionalizing research capacity strengthening in LMICs.