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Table 1 Characteristics of international funders’ evaluations of LMIC health research capacity strengthening (RCS)

From: Indicators for tracking programmes to strengthen health research capacity in lower- and middle-income countries: a qualitative synthesis

Evaluations by international funder Health RCS characteristics Relation of evaluator to funder Evaluation characteristics
  Project, programme(s), organisation Period (duration) covered by the evaluation   Timing Main approaches/methods
ACU-CSC[23, 24] RCS programme – with streams, health sector 1960+ (48 years) Funder staff Periodic review Analysis of existing award data, alumni evaluation survey, 15 case studies, and 5 telephone interviews of selected scholarship recipients; impact assessment.
Carnegie[25] RCS initiative with networks 2008–2010 (2 years) Contract evaluation organisation Mid-term Desk review or initiative and network documents, interviews and focus groups with stakeholders (key staff and students within each network).
Danida[26] Health research programmes of which health RCS is a part 1997–2006 (10 years) Contracted evaluation organisation Periodic review Components were: a) country reports with visits; b) desk study review of projects; c) institutional questionnaires for Danish research groups; d) ‘internal’ [Danish organisations] individual staff questionnaires; e) ‘external’ [non-Danish other HIC funder] questionnaires and interviews; f) literature review of publications supported; g) evaluation document analysis; and h) health-related project database analysis.
DfID[27] Project Health research council 2008–2010 (2 years) External programme evaluation team Mid-term review Desk review of organisational, programme, and project documentation; site visit with interviews of stakeholders, beneficiaries, non‒beneficiaries, funders, and secretariat; in‒depth case studies of selected grantees and their institutions; and evaluation of the grants selection process.
EDCTP[28] Health research partnership 2007–2009 (2 years) Independent external panel Periodic review Documentation analysis, meetings/discussions and interviews with organisational representatives, questionnaire survey of researchers, site visit, conference attendance and country case study.
IDRC[2932] Health research programme with projects Roughly 2001–2008 (7 years) Contracted evaluation team Special review Conducted a gender audit at three levels – institutional, programmatic, and project (review of 15 projects) – through documentation review; search of guidelines and strategies of other organisations working on policy, health and gender issues; review of a previous internal gender survey; gender questionnaire to assess capacity development needs; and individual interviews with funder staff.
NIH-FIC (1) [33] Health RCS programme 1992–2003 (11 years) Contract evaluators Periodic review Outcome evaluation using NIH-FIC evaluation framework and FIRCA logic model. Administrative data collection and review, interviews with programme stakeholders, census surveys of the US principal investigators and international research collaborators, bibliometric analysis of publications, and site visits.
NIH-FIC (2) [34] Health RCS programme 2002–2008 (6 years) Contract evaluation team Mid-term review Programme implementation and preliminary outcomes. Data collection methods included two online surveys (GRIP awardees, unsuccessful applicants with scored applications). Supplementary data from administrative sources and databases, MEDLINE, and from interviews with US-based mentors, FIC staff members, and programme partners.
NWO/WOTRO[35, 36] Health RCS & health research programmes 2005–2008 (4 years) (2008) Committee of three experts & two secretariat members (2009) Contract evaluators Mid-term review (2008) Background document review, discussions with programme coordinators, site visits with interviews, formulate recommendations, and discuss with Programme Committee. (2009) Not specified but included: programme document review, programme logic construction, projects’ progress reports analysis, and stakeholder interviews.
Sida[37] Linked health RCS project funding (three routes) 1999–2005 (6 years) Contract evaluators Mid-term for re-formulation Emailed questionnaires to institutions, individuals, and graduates. Interviews during site visits and evaluation seminar at main site.
TDR –WHO[38, 39] Organisation’s entire set of health RCS programmes 2000–2008 (9 years) Contracted institute evaluation team Periodic review Questionnaires (individuals, research groups, and institutions), selected in-depth interviews, institutional site visits with stakeholder semi-structured interviews.
Wellcome trust[40] Health RCS project – Consortium 2009–2011 (2 years) Contract evaluation organisation Mid-term (Second annual) Real-time, monitoring and evaluation with mutually agreed framework of qualitative and quantitative indicators. Analysis in the light of all consortia within the programme of which this project is a part.
  1. ACU-CSC, Association of Commonwealth Universities – Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (UK); Carnegie, Carnegie Corporation of New York through Science Initiative Group; Danida, Development cooperation activity, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Denmark); DfID, Department for International Development (UK); EDCTP, European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership; ESSENCE, Enhancing Support for Strengthening the Effectiveness of National Capacity Efforts on Health Research Initiative; FIRCA, Fogarty International Research Collaboration Awards; GRIP, Global Research Initiative Program; HIC, High income country(ies); IDRC, International Development Research Centre (Canada); LMIC, Low- and middle-income countries; NIH-FIC, National Institutes of Health – Fogarty International Center (USA); NWO/WOTRO, Science for Global Development, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research; Sida, Swedish International Development Agency; TDR/WHO, Tropical Disease Research – World Health Organization.