December 2018 Biannual


AERC Research Programme: A Closer Look

The AERC Research Programme has two arms: thematic research, which is the “learning by doing” research modality, and collaborative research, which addresses pertinent policy issues on the continent.

AERC thematic research: The thematic research programme has evolved over time as the primary focus for capacity building in policy-relevant economic research for young and upcoming African researchers. It involves conceptualization, framing, design and analysis of key economic research questions of relevance to policy making in Africa.

Design feature and peer review

The thematic research programme uses a unique framework combining learning-by-doing by researchers, peer review, mentoring and networking through the biannual research workshop, with skills improvement through technical workshops and visiting scholars programmes.

The Biannual research workshop and plenary conference

The biannual research workshop is perhaps one of the most successful innovations and enduring features of the AERC research capacity building modality. The biannual workshop is a flagship event that brings together the largest gathering of economics researchers, including PhD students and policy makers, from across the continent, resource persons from Africa and the rest of the world. The biannual workshop also attracts researchers from international organizations interested in showcasing their research findings to African researchers and policy makers. Examples include IMF, World Bank and United Nations agencies.

One of the key features of the biannual research workshop is the plenary session. This is a one-day conference that features three-to-four state-of-the-art papers addressing issues of contemporary policy interest to Africa, produced and delivered by experienced and leading economists, drawn from around the globe. AERC plenary sessions serve at least three purposes: (1) they inform AERC researchers on emerging issues of importance to Africa’s development; (2) they allow for deep interactions between policy makers and researchers; and (3) they provide a platform for upcoming researchers to learn from accomplished researchers and a forum for signalling directions for future research.

The biannual workshop links AERC researchers to their peers to receive constructive comments and mentoring. The researchers are also linked to a group of dedicated and highly experienced resource persons who provide guidance and mentoring to the researchers, ensuring that the conceptualization of research questions, the design of research, the analysis of data, presentation and interpretation of research findings, among other things, are correct and consistent with international standards of research. Thematic research feeds into policy making in at least two ways: building the capacity of policy analysts and researchers; and generating research results for policy makers and other policy actors.

Collaborative research: AERC has leveraged thematic research over the years by creating a framework, whereby researchers, resource persons and other thought leaders collaborate on issues of great relevance to Africa, such as food security, poverty alleviation and climate change, which cannot be done by individual efforts. Through collaborative research, AERC generates high quality and policy relevant research for consumption by policy makers and other policy actors, thus creating the “evidence base” for informed policy making.

A secondary objective of collaborative research is the building/enhancing of the capacity of African researchers (both senior and junior researchers). In collaborative research, AERC identifies, working closely with African policy makers, key issues of broader contemporary interest to the policy community, and then puts together a team of expert researchers to execute the research. The results are fed to the policy community through various channels, the most prominent of which is the SPS series.