amy mahan fellowship program: interim report-laying the foundations

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Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program to Assess the Impact of Public Access to ICT

Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program to Assess the Impact of Public Access to ICT

Laying the Foundation

Interim Technical Report Submitted by Universitat Pompeu Fabra to the Inernational Development Research Centre

Prepared by Francisco J. Proenza in collaboration with Abiodun Jagun, Hernn Galpern, Erwin Alampay and Lorena Camats.

March 2010Table of Contents

iiAcknowledgements

Executive SummaryivIntroduction1Research Problem, Capacity Development and Program Objectives1Context1The Research Problem2Research Capacity Development2Program Objectives2The Challenge: Attracting Excellent Emerging Scholars with Suitable Topics3Suitability of Topic3Eligibility3Meeting the Challenge: a Service Oriented Approach5Documentation5Dissemination7Website Monitoring7Networks9Africa and the Middle East10Asia-Pacific11Latin America and the Caribbean11Queries12General Queries12Topic Queries12Getting the topic right14The Selection Process15Applications15Selection15Project Outputs: The Fellowship Awards17Program Management and Administration20Management and Implementation Team20Administrative Support20Problems Encountered21Implementation calendar22Capacity Building and Impact22Recommendations23Cost of preparing detailed documentation should be taken into account23Develop formal mechanisms for sharing practical lessons of experience23Reaching research communities accustomed to working in languages other than English require special effort and resources24Web Monitoring is a valuable tool for identifying gaps in outreach24A Service Oriented Approach is Essential24Bibliography26Annex A: Relative Weighs Assigned to Selection Criteria and Implications for Quality of Fellowship Awards28Annex B. Results of Applicant Survey31Annex C. Results of Survey of Non-Applicants who Submited a Topic Query35Annex D: Charts Preparedto Inform Regional Coordinators and Program Partners Regarding visits to Amy Mahan Website38Annex E. Topic Queries: Unsuitable Topics Submitted41

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the help received from the following persons.

SIRCA colleagues Ang Peng Hwa, Arul Indrasen Chib, Joanna Tan Keng Ling, Naowarat Narula, Sri Ranjini Mei Hua, and IDRCs program officer, Chaitali Sinha, made detailed comments to the draft Submission Guidelines. All their suggestions were adopted. SIRCA made their own materials available, such as the Agreement used to manage research grants, which served as a basis to prepare our own documents. Overall, SIRCA staff has remained a frequent and reliable source of information and counsel.

Jorge Tamayo of Universidad Nacional de San Agustn de Arequipa carefully read draft documentation, detecting errors and suggesting changes in grant administration proposals that made them more flexible and attractive to research teams.

Sylvia Cadena, Program Officer of the Innovation Fund of the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), reviewed an early draft of the application form. Her recommendations led to a complete overhaul of this form and the streamlining of submission procedures. Raul Pertierras emphasis on the value of assisting prospective applicants during the dissemination phase, planted the seed for the Topic Query.

Chat Garcia Ramilo, head of APCs Womens Network, provided advice on suitable ways to incorporate gender analysis in ICT research, and, on the basis of her experience, provided practical advice regarding IDRC procedures.External members of the Selection Panel, Roxana Barrantes of the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, and the three members of the Global Impact Study working as a team - Chris Coward and Araba Sey of the University of Washington and Franois Bar of the University of Southern California - joined with the IDRC Program Officer, three UPF staff and the three regional partners to carry out the time consuming but critical task of reviewing 29 shortlisted applicants and selecting Fellowship awards.

U. of Washingtons Araba Sey and Michelle Fellows helped us maintain website information on the Global Impact Studys in-depth study probes up to date, in an effort to prevent the duplication of research efforts.

Many friends and colleagues engaged in ICT and research networks in APC, DIRSI and Telecentre.org among others, helped disseminate the call for proposal. Professor Stewart Marshalls dissemination of the call among subscribers of the International Journal of Education and Development was timely and highly effective.

William Melody authorized the publication in our website of his informative and caring obituary of Amy Mahan. Estela Acosta y Lara translated this document into Spanish.

IDRCs Raymon Hyma, Claude Briand and Frank Tulus have been very much part of the implementation team. Raymond organized the translation of program documents into French, conducted and prepared summaries of the applicant and non-applicant evaluations, and created valuable dissemination materials. Claude helped us plan and understand IDRC financial and administrative requirements. Frank was instrumental getting the program under way, participated in the write up of program documentation and in the Selection Panel. He has accompanied us throughout, with guidance and support on all major program decisions.

Implementation has relied in this first phase on many UPF colleagues. Recognition is due to Rector Josep Joan Moreso, Research Vice Rector, Louise Mcnally,, Department of Political and Social Sciences Director, Clara Riba, and to our colleagues and friends David Sancho, Jacint Jordana, Miquel Oliver, Josep Jofre, Ana Sagardoy, Marc Boldu, Oscar Corts, Jordi Vias, Maria Soteras, Fina Lorente, and Bianca Cabaeros. We give special thanks to Bruce Girard for granting us the privilege to name the program after his lifetime companion. It is our aspiration that our work, our research and our conduct will duly honor Amy Mahans memory and make Bruce and their daughter Danielle proud.

Executive Summary

The Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program to Assess the Impact of Public Access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the research capacity building component of a larger IDRC managed project titled Investigating the Impact of Public Access of ICT. A second component of the IDRC initiative is known as the Global Impact Study to Assess the Impact of Public Access to ICT.

The overall objective of the Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program is to deepen and strengthen the capacity of emerging scholars in developing countries to carry out rigorous research in the area of public access to ICT, while simultaneously increasing the availability of high-quality research in the subject area coming from the developing regions of the world. The Program is an eighteen-months project sponsored by IDRC administered by Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, in partnership with renowned scholars from leading research institutions based in Africa and the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

This report covers the period September 2009 through February 2010, i.e. the first six months of the Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program. No research activities took place in this period. Program activities focused instead on laying the foundation for achieving Program objectives.

Successful research requires excellence in scholarship. Excellent emergent scholars will on their own identify proposals that address the central topic of concern the impact of public access to ICT - that is of interest to them and will therefore engage their effort with commitment and enthusiasm. Having a good group of emergent researchers and sensible study proposals in turn makes it easier to recruit mature top scholars to support and carry out a successful research program and help strengthen research capacities of the emergent scholars and their support institutions.

The challenge facing the Program during this period was to identify and encourage a suitable group of excellent emerging developing-country scholars to compete for up to twelve program Fellowships. The way that the program went about to meet this challenge is the subject of this report.

To meet the Programs objectives strict requirements were adopted, both in respect of suitability of topic and of the research team, especially the Principal Investigator. The program is specifically geared to understanding the impact of venues such as, for example, telecenters, cybercafs and public libraries providing access to computers and the Internet. To qualify, Principal Investigators had to :- Be an emerging scholar, presently pursuing a graduate research degree, or have received this degree at most 7 years previously;

- Be a permanent resident of a developing country in Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the Caribbean or Africa and the Middle East;

- Have a of a commitment to remain at a developing country institution for the 12 month duration of the funding period;

- Give evidence of aa long-term commitment to a research career

- Have a formal affiliation with a developing country research institution that would be designated to receive and administer the funds. Principal Investigators acting alone were eligible, but award selection criteria favored research teams.The pool of high quality applicants might have been larger if applications from mature well-established researchers or researchers working in developed countries had been accepted; but this would have limited the programs capacity development impact. Nevertheless, the strict requirements adopted also made attracting high quality applicants to compete for a Fellowship a challenging task.

To meet the call for proposals challenge a service-orie