The Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, and one of its programmes, Afrobarometer, are among the top research institutes named in the 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report.
IDS was ranked 55th in the category of Best University affiliated Think Tank in the world, ahead of the University of Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies at 57th position. Makerere University’s Centre for political Analysis was the top ranked in Africa at number 46. This category involved 90 institutions.
Afrobarometer has been ranked 5th in the Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks category. The top four positions were scooped by Brooklyn Institution (USA), Atlantic Council (USA) Institute for International Political Studies (Italy and Bruegel (Belgium). A total of 76 institutions were assessed under this category
The Afrobarometer is an independent, nonpartisan research project that measures the social, political, and economic atmosphere in Africa. The project is managed by a network comprising Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana; Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy, Benin; Institute for Democracy in South Africa and IDS, which coordinates the Eastern African and Horn of Africa regions.
The Global Go To Think Tank Index is the result of an international survey of over 7,500 scholars, public and private donors, policy makers, and journalists who rank more than 6,600 think tanks in various categories using a set of 28 criteria developed by The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.
TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations that have helped bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical policy areas such as international peace and security, globalization and governance, international economics, environmental issues, information and society, poverty alleviation, and healthcare and global health.
Criteria in the Think Tanks in the World Ranking
● The quality and commitment of the think tank’s leadership (chief executive and governing body). This involves effectively managing the mission and programs of the think tank, mobilizing the financial and human resources necessary to fulfill the mission and monitoring the quality, independence and impact of the think tank;
● The quality and reputation of the think tank’s staff. Ability to assemble a critical mass of highly skilled, experienced and productive scholars and analysts who are recognized as either emerging or established experts in their respective area of research;
●The quality and reputation of the research and analysis produced. The ability to produce high quality, rigorous, policy oriented research that is accessible to policymakers, media and the public;
● Ability to recruit and retain elite scholars and analysts;
● Academic performance and reputation. This involves the academic rigor associated with the research conducted. This includes formal accreditation of a think tank’s scholars and analysts, the number and type of scholarly publications produced such as: books, journals and conference papers and the number of presentations delivered at scholarly and other professional meeting and the number and type of citations of the think tanks scholars’ research in scholarly publications produced by other scholars;
● The quality, number, and reach of its publications;
● The impact of a think tanks research and programs on policymakers and other policy actors. Policy recommendations considered or actually adopted by policymakers, civil society or policy actors;
● Reputation with policymakers (name recognition associated with specific issues or programs, number of briefings and official appointments, number of policy briefs and white papers produced, legislative testimony delivered);
● A demonstrated commitment to producing independent research and analysis. This involves standards and policies for producing rigorous evidence based research and analysis that are posted and monitored by the organization, research teams and individual researchers. This includes disclosure of conflict of interest (financial, institutional or personal) and a commitment to nonpartisanship and established professional standards for research in the social sciences;
● Access to key institutions. The ability to reach and connect with key audiences and personnel such as government officials (elected and appointed), civil society, traditional and new media, and academia;
● Ability to convene key policy actors and to develop effective networks and partnerships with other think tanks and policy actors;
● Overall output of the organization (policy proposals, web visits, briefings, publications, interviews, conferences, staff nominated to official posts);
● Utilization of research, policy proposal and other products. The effective transmission and utilization of policy briefs, reports, policy recommendations and other products by policymakers and the policy community, number of current and former staff serving in advisory roles to policymakers, advisory commissions, etc., awards given to scholars for scholarly achievement or public service;
● Usefulness of organization’s information in public engagement, advocacy work, preparing legislation or testimony, preparing academic papers or presentations, conducting research or teaching;
● Ability to use electronic, print and the new media to communicate research and reach key audiences;
● Media reputation (number of media appearances, interviews and citations);
● Ability to use the Internet including social media tools, to engage with policymakers, journalists and the public;
● Web Site and Digital presence. The quality, accessibility, effective maintenance of the organization’s web presence, as well as, the quality and level Digital traffic and engagement. (quality, accessibility and navigability of web site, number of website visitors, page views, time spent on pages, “likes” or followers);
● Level, diversity and stability of funding. The ability of an organization to mobilize the necessary financial resources to support and sustain the think tank over time (endowment, membership fees, annual donations, government and private contracts, earned income);
● Effective management and allocation of financial and human resources. The ability of a think tank to effectively manage its money and people so that they produce high quality outputs that achieve maximum impact;
● Ability of the organization to effectively fulfill the terms of the gifts, grants and contracts from government(s), individuals, corporations and foundations who have provided the financial support to the think tank (financial stewardship);
● The organization’s ability to produce new knowledge, innovative policy proposals or alternative ideas on policy;
● Ability to bridge the gap between the academic and policymaking communities;
● Ability to bridge the gap between policymakers and the public;
● Ability to include new voices in the policymaking process;
● Ability of organization to be inscribed within issue and policy networks;
● Success in challenging the traditional wisdom of policymakers and in generating innovative policy ideas and programs.
● The impact on society. Direct relationship between the organization’s efforts in a particular area to a positive change in societal values such as significant changes in the quality of life within respective country (amounts of goods and services available to citizens, state of physical and mental health, quality of environment, quality of political rights etc.
The University of Nairobi, Main Campus