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Table 1 Lessons learned from research in partnership with NGOs: IDRC experience

From: The role of NGOs in global health research for development

First, applied research should have a practical application, reinforce knowledge and skills, and introduce and promote innovative, effective strategies and approaches for improving human health and well-being. Not only should research results be for local application, they should also be shared and adapted to other venues and contexts.
Second, efforts need to be made to build knowledge and understanding about the benefits accruing from applied research. NGOs, by their very nature, are action-oriented. Applied research is often perceived as of limited use to their ends, an esoteric, academic exercise of limited value to the immediate needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Time and effort need to be invested in nurturing an understanding within the academic community of the value of applied research within the context of development efforts.
Third, applied research should be used to develop and strengthen local research capabilities. NGOs do not, as a rule, possess the internal capacity and skills to design and conduct applied research studies. Attention should be paid to assisting NGOs in making contact with qualified researchers, and increasing NGO knowledge and skills to negotiate the terms of reference for applied research studies. This cannot be achieved simply through providing information about applied research methodologies or organizing a single workshop. Trust has to be developed between the NGO and academic communities, as a means of reinforcing linkages between them and building upon and using their comparative strengths, characteristics and areas of expertise to design and conduct applied research.
Fourth, local communities should be involved in the design and implementation of applied research activities. The local people need to understand the purpose of the proposed research, provide input and advice about its design and conduct, and be actively involved in the application and dissemination of research results. Without the active participation of the community, the utility and eventual application of the research results will be of little value.
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