CORRESPONDENCE

Grant winners: Track social impact of grant types in Africa

University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.
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African Centre for Technology Studies, Nairobi, Kenya.
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African grant-giving bodies need more evidence on the economic and social impact of different types of research funding with respect to the scale, duration and orientation of grants. The issue will be discussed at this month’s annual forum of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in Livingstone, Zambia.

This lack of data on the broader outcomes of funding mechanisms became evident during a study we conducted this year, sponsored by Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the UK Department for International Development and South Africa’s National Research Foundation. We investigated the political and economic factors that influence the African science-granting councils (see go.nature.com/2zwohjm).

African researchers are under particular pressure to contribute to their countries’ economic or social development. This means that evidence of scholarly impact, such as publication numbers, is of limited use to African funding bodies because such metrics rarely extend beyond evaluation of individual researchers and bear limited relevance to social and economic impact.

Nature 551, 168 (2017)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-017-05754-7
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