Development research in Nepal has gained tremendous popularity in the last decade; especially given the sudden increase of not-for-profit organizations working for various social causes like women empowerment or income generation for the poor. By development research here, I mean research that is undertaken for social development and betterment. While some of them have been successful in achieving its objectives, others have largely failed to make the intended impact. In this article, I have tried to explore some reasons as to why some of the development research in Nepal have failed to make the impact that it ought to.
AIM FOR THE GOAL
The most common problem with development research in Nepal is the lack of a clear objective or vision before beginning work. Development researchers sometimes set very broad goals before conducting the research, and do not have a definite objective in mind. What happens as a result is that the planning and design of the research process is such that the study outcomes do not align with the objectives.
It is therefore essential to spend some crucial time setting specific objectives and goals, as without clarity in these areas in the initial stages, researchers who go to the field to obtain data often fall into the traps of becoming greedy and trying to know everything; thereby not focusing on what is actually needed for the research to fulfil its objective. Consequently, it gets very difficult for researchers to find solutions to a problem that they themselves do not know or understand.
TRIED AND TRUE: THINK SMART!
While flipping through the recommendations provided by some of the development research projects carried out in Nepal, I realized that they are not actionable enough. And sometimes, even when they are actionable enough, no solid measures are taken by concerned authorities, thus, making the whole study pointless. Also, researchers often fall in the trap of providing multiple recommendations without weighting its pros & cons and practicality. Therefore, while recommending policies and action plans, it is best to think and work smart by identifying the three most relevant and practical recommendations and elaborating on them. Recommendations should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time based for it to be efficient and impactful.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
In my time working in this arena, I have also realized that the objectives and research design of various development research projects tend to be relatively similar to each other. Also, organizations sometimes haphazardly start a research project just to meet the financial deadlines set by the donor agencies. It is therefore essential to do proper homework to check the existence, viability and usability of research projects before initiating the project so that each penny of the donor money is spent wisely.
ON A BRIGHTER SIDE
Firstly, development research reports which are currently being published and are available in the public domain are at least enlightening people and institutions of different scenarios and social & development problems that exist. Secondly, development researches bring out institutional information which helps policy and decision makers to make welfare enhancing changes and at least a base to form their decisions on.
If done correctly, development researches should produce findings that alter the economic and social welfare of the society along with fostering the institutional changes.