|Mobilizing science for global food security. Third External Review of IFPRI (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research ) (1998)|
|Chapter 3 - Cross-Cutting Themes|
|3.2 Quality of Research|
Overall, the Panel judges IFPRIs published research output to be of high quality.
The internal quality control begins when a research project is being planned, long before any publication is considered. Before any project is accepted in the framework of an MP or of a GRP, the methodology is reviewed by an external reviewer, proposed by the head of the division and nominated by the DG. Usually a seminar is organized, with participants from the World Bank or from universities being invited to comment. The high quality of collected data relies mainly on these procedures.
During the process of execution, projects are submitted to regular review. An internal review at the whole institution level is conducted annually, with any staff member invited to comment on the operations of divisions and selected programmes. In some cases, when a programme is complex (for instance MP17), external interdisciplinary advisory boards are set up and meet annually to provide advice.
Finally, any IFPRI labelled paper, even a discussion paper, must go through an internal quality control process. IFPRI staff members are free to write whatever they like in their own name and researchers are encouraged to publish any article in any refereed journal. Reprints are submitted to the Information Programme and are approved for publication by the Director General. The nature of the control varies with the series the paper is published in: discussion papers are reviewed by one staff member; research report manuscripts contemplated for publication have to be presented at a seminar, thus allowing for the collection of criticisms, remarks and suggestions from the audience, and are subsequently examined along with books by a publication committee. The latter does not perform the entire review by itself, but nominates at least one internal and two external individuals before giving the IFPRI stamp to any document. Usually, a dialogue takes place between the author(s) and the reviewers, with successive versions of the document being prepared before publication occurs. Furthermore, books (especially the famous John Hopkins University Press IFPRI series) are submitted to the publishers scrutiny regarding sales and other commercial aspects.
All these procedures not only avoid publication of inferior material but also guarantee that the audience of a document will understand the true nature of the delivered message. The Panel commends IFPRI for its thorough internal review and quality control process.
Other items that deserve mention are the short policy briefs and project briefs that currently are being produced. They are of high quality and extremely useful for the non-research person involved in policy-making. The Panel commends IFPRI on the decision to produce these. However, a gap has been noted by some development policy analysts between broad policy statements and publications that are highly theoretical and full of equations. They have expressed a need for intermediate publications that explain the assumptions used to help clarify analytical methods and facilitate their application.
The Panel urges all IFPRI divisions to systematically consider the balance in its written output, making sure not to neglect the needs of those who wish further details on research methods and assumptions used.