About our program

The inspiration for this research program comes from the experience of Professor Brian Belcher, working in a research-for-development context. Brian noticed a common frustration among researchers who were expected to demonstrate ‘research impact’ for donors and funding bodies. Yet, these researchers had no systematic way to monitor or evaluate the effectiveness of their work. Brian began developing tools and approaches to support accountability needs and learning needs as part of his work with international research organizations. These include the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Forests, Trees and Agroforestry CGIAR Research Program (FTA), and the larger Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in 2013, Brian developed a dedicated research program on this issue. In 2019, Brian received appointment for a four-year term as Royal Roads University’s Ashoka Research Chair to continue the program’s legacy.

Understanding the effectiveness of research is not a simple task. Research processes, especially in social-ecological contexts, are complex. There are many pathways from research to outcomes, and they can be difficult to identify. Much of the current emphasis on understanding and evaluating research effectiveness focuses on the economic impact of research. Demonstrating the ability of research to contribute to real-world problem-solving is becoming more sought after.

With a focus in research evaluation, the program refines concepts, develops methods, and tests these in case studies. The program aims to gain a better understanding of the qualities that support research effectiveness. We aim to uncover how relevant, credible, legitimate, and positioned-for-use design and implementation of research can contribute to and realize outcomes.

Program Goals:

1) Develop an international network of collaborators with a focus on impact and effectiveness in sustainability research;

2) Develop, apply, and test evaluation approaches and methods for transdisciplinary research, building on emerging ideas as well as theoretical and practical experience in related fields;

3) Analyse and evaluate selected livelihoods, community resilience, and sustainability research projects/programs; and

4) Recommend improved approaches and methods for transdisciplinary research evaluation and impact assessment.