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ESSENTIAL: Six tips for funding impactful research

This CDKN Essentials outlines the main lessons we have learned about commissioning through a research call model. It is aimed at other funders of research who want to influence policy, planning and practice in climate compatible development and beyond. Researchers seeking guidance on achieving impact should see resources such as 10 things to know about how to influence policy with research.

Since our inception seven years ago, CDKN has aimed for the research that we fund to be demand-led and to have impact beyond academia. In our experience, the key lies in eliciting and selecting research proposals from partners that expressly wish to enhance policy, planning or practice ‘through’ their research. This changes the approach to research and the questions being asked. Finding these projects and partners, however, is challenging.

CDKN’s research programme incorporates a broad spectrum of projects operating at global, national and subnational levels. Some are focused in particular countries or cities, others provide cross-country comparison, and others aim to inform international policy processes. These projects have achieved a variety of types and degrees of impact.

Our experience suggests that funders should:

  • unpack what they mean by ‘impactful research’
  • scope the policy context
  • fund diverse consortia with a range of skills
  • include relevant country or context experts in the review panel
  • manage their own expectations
  • be flexible, and accept and learn from failure.

Download the CDKN Essential here: Six tips for funding impactful research

Image credit: CGIAR

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