Evaluating research differently

Monday, December 12, 2022 12:00to14:30
Dept Equity, Ethics and Policy, 2001 McGill College Ave, room 1140, Montreal, QC, H3A 1G1, CA

Monday, December 12th, 2022

In person event:
2001 McGill College Avenue, room 1140

12:00-13:00 Seminar and Q&A
13:00-13:15 Break with pizza
13:15-14:30 Workshop

  • Open to graduate students and postdocs
  • Apply the RQ+ framework to your own research project

Seminar Description:

As the Anthropocene dawns, and as pandemic-intensified inequalities amplify, it is necessary and essential that high quality research and innovation inform our way forward. This seminar will raise a call to action for researchers and research institutions, including universities and their communities of students, staff, and leaders. In short, what counts as ‘high quality research’ must be re-imagined and re-built if it is to flourish in the emerging reality of the Anthropocene, and if it is to rectify – not exacerbate – spiraling social inequities and environmental crises. The way we govern scientific progress can at times be more harmful than helpful. Many approaches to research evaluation underpin and amplify inequities in how science is conducted, and the way it serves people and planet.

As a possible way forward, this seminar will outline the Research Quality Plus (RQ+) approach. Developed and field tested at the International Development Research Centre, RQ+ is a framework for holistic research evaluation that has helped to cultivate and reward research that breaks paths to sustainable development and is derived from the overlooked experience of the Global South.

This seminar will outline the three tenets of RQ+ that embody a stark contrast to the standards embraced in the hyper-competitive sphere of Northern science systems. The first tenet of RQ+ suggests that context matters to any research endeavor. Research does not occur in a vacuum, and neither should its valuation and reward. The second tenet suggests that research quality is a multi-dimensional construct that should be connected to the objectives and values of those enabling, implementing, and impacted by the work. The third suggests that research quality cannot be determined by peer opinion alone, no matter how expert that opinion may be. Instead, research quality must be measured through the comparison and balance of multiple sources of empirical evidence, just like research.

In this light, RQ+ offers a practical response to a pivotal moment in global development and in research governance. It is an alternative that might connect research and innovation with planetary health and sustainable development in the age of the Anthropocene.

Workshop Description:

Graduate students and postdocs are invited to join a discussion-based workshop where they will learn to apply different components of RQ+ to their research. In pairs and guided by Robert, participants will discuss how they are dealing with different contextual factors and quality dimensions in their own projects. Participants will come away with new ideas about how to strengthen the lesser valued aspects of research projects that RQ+ shines light on within their own work.

Students and postdocs at all stages in their research will benefit from this workshop, as long as they have conceptualized their project and begun designing it. The only prerequisite is that participants come with a project in mind that they know and can speak about.

Speaker Bio:

Robert McLean is a Senior Program Specialist in Policy and Evaluation at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and concurrently a Fellow of the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network (IKTRN) at the Ottawa Hospital/University of Ottawa. Rob has worked in government, private, and NGO sectors and has published research and invited commentary in venues ranging from Nature to the Stanford Social Innovation Review. He is author of the new book, Scaling Impact: Innovation for the Public Good published by Routledge, NYC. He is co-editor of the book Transforming Research Excellence: New Ideas from the Global South, published by African Minds. Both books freely available in open access in English, French and Spanish.

Rob earned his Ph.D. in the Department of Medicine at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and completed postdoctoral training at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada. He holds an M.Sc. from the Global Development Institute of the University of Manchester, England, and two undergraduate degrees following studies at Carleton University, Canada and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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