University of Malawi
CENTRE FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH
CSR GOVERNING BOARD MEETING
23rd December, 1998
RESEARCH POLICY AND GUIDELINES
The Centre for Social Research (CSR)
is an organ of the University of Malawi established in 1979 to conduct
research in the social sciences. At the time of establishment, social science
was narrowly defined. In accordance with the narrow definition, the objectives
of the Centre were confined to the evaluation of UNICEF assisted projects
and the training of Government personnel in monitoring and evaluation through
seminars and workshops. However, as time passed, both the activities and
mandate of the Centre broadened. The current mandate of the CSR is:
(a) to appraise, monitor and evaluate
development activities in Malawi;
(b) to undertake applied research so as
to generate information on priority problems of the country and channel
the information to policy makers and planners;
(c) to train Government and other development
agency personnel in monitoring, evaluation and research methods and techniques;
(d) to promote and facilitate social science
research within the University of Malawi;
(e) to promote the efficient exchange of
information and experiences within the fields of social sciences by organising
local and regional conferences and seminars;
(f) to collect and document information
on social science research and general development in Malawi, and make
these accessible to researchers in and outside Malawi; and
(g) to compile, publish and disseminate
research and evaluation results.
1.2 Mission Statement
Until 1996, the CSR operated without
a written mission statement. In 1996 the CSR saw the need to develop a
mission and consequently adopted a statement to that effect. This reads
The Centre for Social Research (CSR) is
an organ of the University of Malawi that conducts and promotes excellence
in academic and applied social science research in partnership with the
public and private sector so as to inform policy and offer training for
1.3 Institutional Framework
The Centre for Social Research is affiliated
to the Faculty of Social Science at Chancellor College. However, it is
an autonomous institution within the University. It is governed by a sub-committee
of Senate which, until 1993, was composed of representatives of each faculty
of the University of Malawi and chaired by the Dean of the Faculty of Social
Science. Since 1993 the governing body has consisted of representatives
of each Department in the Faculty of Social Science and representatives
from the following institutions: The National Research Council of Malawi,
Bunda College (Rural Development Department), and Directors of the Demographic
Unit and the Centre for Education Research and Training at Chancellor College.
1.4 Framework for Cooperation with other
Within the University of Malawi, the
Centre operates independently but closely liases with the Research Coordinator’s
office on matters of common interest such as research clearance and publications.
With regard to the other research centres in the University, there are
mutual consultations aimed at ensuring that duplication and overlap of
work is avoided. This is made relatively by the fact that all the Centres
were established for specialised research activities. The Centre for Education
Research and Training (CERT), for example, specialises in curriculum and
teaching research; whereas the Agricultural Policy Research Unit (APRU)
has emphasis on agricultural policy issues, and the Centre for Language
Studies on language structure and policy.
1.5 Activities of the Centre
The Activities of the Centre can be grouped
into three major categories, Research, Training and Teaching. Research
includes both basic and applied aspects, while training centres on workshops/seminars
and on-the-job training for planners and/or evaluation officers in Government,
University and other development agencies. Until recently, training was
through the Research Assistants Programme. Established in 1982, the Research
Assistants Programme aimed at providing practical on-the-job training for
officers involved in planning and evaluation with the aim of building capacities,
in participating organisations, to monitor and evaluate their own programmes.
Due to financial constraints the Research Assistants Programme has since
stopped. Training is now offered to institutions/agencies on request. In
addition to research and training, researcher fellows at the Centre , as
members of the faculty of social science at Chancellor College, are required
to assist in teaching courses in their specialised academic areas. Thus,
from time to time they are called upon to assist with teaching in both
the under-graduate and graduate programmes.
1.6 Visiting Research Fellowship
The Visiting Research Fellowship Programme
was established in 1981 so as to facilitate the carrying out of research
in Malawi by external scholars. Through this programme, the Centre provides
University affiliation to visiting researchers who apply for affiliation.
The Centre undertakes to have the research cleared by relevant authorities
and, where necessary, provides a working base for the researcher and access
to the University library and other facilities.
2.0 THE CSR RESEARCH PROGRAMME
The Centre for Social Research (CSR) is
the apex social science research clearing house of the University of Malawi.
It has produced over 200 research reports and papers since its establishment
in 1979. These reports and papers contain a great deal of information and
provide answers to many policy and development questions. However, the
CSR is also aware of its deficiencies in fulfilling its mandate; especially
in its research focus. Hence, there is a need to strengthen its research
programme in order to improve research quality and relevance and increase
the CSR's national visibility and influence. The importance of the CSR’s
role in championing social and public policy research whose findings contribute
to the improvement of social and public policy formulation and implementation
is also recognised.
In an attempt to strengthen the CSR’s research
work, a review of its past work was undertaken. This was followed by a
research priority setting workshop which aimed at identifying information
gaps and generating research topics. The priority setting workshop secured
the participation of all interested parties including faculty members from
the five colleges of the University of Malawi.
The ideas emanating from the review process,
the priorities workshop and those emanating from on-going work of the CSR
now form the basis for the CSR's strategic research programme. This set
up is expected to improve the quality and relevance of research in the
CSR, contribute to the teaching of social science in the University, increase
the credibility and utility of the University's social science research
in the country, and finally assist policy makers and development practitioners
in government, NGO agencies, private sector and in the urban and rural
communities to make informed decisions and implement sustainable development
2.2 CSR Research Priority Areas
In order for the CSR to conduct and
promote excellence in basic and applied social science research in partnership
with the public and private sectors so as to inform policy and offer training
for capacity building, the following research priority areas have been
Sub-programme 1 DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE:
Researchable areas in the transition to and consolidation of democracy
include, inter alia:-
Aid and democracy (conditionalities),
comparison of democracy to other forms of government, civil service and
public sector reforms, codes of practice for politics, ethnicity, capacity
building for democracy, corruption and graft, crime, definition and conceptualisation
of civil society, definition and concept of democracy, democracy vs. freedom,
formal vs. informal processes on the transition to democracy, parliamentary
and other elections and the relationships to the constituency, how Malawians
understand democracy, instruments of democracy and processes of democratic
awareness, socio-economic structures, contingent dynamics and rules and
dynamics of democracy, political organizations (role of political parties),
power decentralisation at the grass-root level (deconcentration vs. devolution),
global and regional influences on democratic development, role of NGOs,
media, military, organised religious groups, etc. in democracy, role of
traditional institutions, the architecture of the modern Malawi state and
separation of powers.
Sub-programme 2 ACCUMULATION, ECONOMIC
GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS: Researchable areas in this sphere
include, inter alia:-
People's adaptive strategies that lead
to sustainable livelihoods at national, district, household individual
levels; design and management of macroeconomic reforms; financing of accumulation,
credit, savings, state market relations, access to markets, livelihood
resources and credit, and attracting domestic and foreign investment; budgetary
transparency and corruption, aid and accumulation; cultural measures of
wealth vs. measures of economic well being (GNP, GDP, per capita); effects
of ESAPs on differentiation of access to resources; regional dynamics vs.
sectoral concerns; socioeconomic mobility; liberalization - producers,
sellers, buyers; income generation, entrepreneurship and employment (women
& men); corruption, "rent seeking" and mismanagement of natural resources;
cross-border trade, contraband, drugs; population, agricultural development
and the economy, and diversification, industrialization and technological
development and comparative and competitive economic advantage in production
Sub-programme 3 HUMAN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL
DEVELOPMENT: Researchable areas in human, social and cultural development
include, inter alia:-
Work ethic and attitude; education -
formal vs. vocational adult education and early child education; dynamics
of gender relations, health, nutrition and epidemics; dynamics of the extended
family system - AIDS and poverty, socialization - the family; witchcraft
and social competition; cultural dimensions of poverty, epidemics; cultural
resources for peace and development; effects of differential access to
health care and services on health status; health policy influences on
health status; traditional medicine; financing of health, education, social
services; social capital development and influence on policy, public vs.
private-provision of services; youth and generational change; language,
ethnicity, religion vs. culture (conflict), and national identity.
Sub-programme 4 AGRARIAN QUESTION, AGRICULTURAL
DEVELOPMENT AND LAND REFORM: Researchable areas include, inter alia:-
Is an agrarian answer the only appropriate
way out of poverty? Joint natural resources management; why land as a solution
to all economic problems; land ownership structure; state policies in agriculture;
labour relations in agriculture; migration and immigration; land use, population
and attitudes to family planning, strategic land use and land use planning.
Sub-programme 5 ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT:
Researchable areas include, inter alia:-
Renewable energy and alternative renewable
energy resources, joint natural resource management, relationships between
income vs. resource degradation and poverty, management of open access
and common property resources, environmental impact assessment and appraisal
(public and private), pollution, public policy, environmental awareness
and education, popular perception on environmental degradation, indigenous
knowledge systems, donor programmes with policy influences, environment
and environmental resources as free economic resources, alternative natural
resources-based conflict management (ANRCM), alternative people-based natural
resources management, gender, culture, religion and environmental resources
Sub-programme 6 PARTICIPATORY/WISE DECISION
MAKING:Researchable areas in decision-making include, inter alia:-
Participation in citizenship; building
bridges of partnership; participatory policy making and implementation
of policies and programmes; multi-track communications.
In addition to the above areas, four cross-cutting
issues have also been identified namely, gender, culture, and socio-economic
It is envisaged that future research for
CSR would focus on these areas. The CSR is also interested in participating
in the poverty monitoring process. Our interest in poverty monitoring is
on analytical research aimed at describing, exploring, explaining, predicting
and defining social phenomena as they impact on the processes that lead
to social and economic development and improvement in poverty indicators.
Hence our research programme envisages the inclusion of periodic surveys
and analysis of existing data from the other data producing institutions
such as National Statistical Office (NSO).
The Centre for Social Research also plans
to embark on an interdisciplinary longitudinal survey on a panel of households
focussing on various aspects of development as outlined in the priority
Under this initiative, the CSR will select
a few areas in the country and set up participatory research observatory
sites with a view to improving our understanding of the multifaceted development
process in both the urban and rural areas. These observatory sites will
be revisited regularly every year to accumulate time series data that can
be used for both teaching and informing policy makers and development practitioners.
2.3 Proposed Types of Research Grants
In order for the Centre for Social Research
(CSR) to function in accordance with its mission statement, i.e as an institution
of the University of Malawi that conducts and promotes excellence in basic
and applied social science research in partnership with the public and
private sector so as to inform policy and offer training for capacity building,
it is proposed that three types of research grants be established.
i) Faculty grants: these will have a ceiling
of MK50,000 per proposal.
ii) Student grants: these will have a ceiling
of MK10,000 per proposal.
iii)Student Award for Best Social Science
Essay: There will be three prizes as follows:
1st Prize -MK5,000;
2nd Prize -MK3,000
3rd Prize -MK2,000.
3.0 GENERAL PROCEDURES AND GUIDELINES FOR
To ensure uniformity and easy write up
of proposals clear guidelines are provided. These guidelines will be reviewed
periodically as and when necessary.
3.1 Project proposals should be formatted
according to the CSR research proposal format.
3.2 Projects will be reviewed by relevant
committees of the sub-programme areas
3.3 Research projects requiring the collection
of genetic resources for export should be approved by the Genetic Resources
and Biotechnology Committee of National Research Council of Malawi (NRCM
) and all fees associated with research clearance should be part of a research
3.4 The CSR Governing Board will approve
all research proposals on recommendation from the review committees.
3.5 The decision of the CSR Governing Board
will be final.
4.0 PROCEDURES AND GUIDELINES FOR
4.1 Researchers should initiate projects
based on research priorities already established by the CSR.
4.2 Research proposals should then be
submitted to the Director of the Centre for Social Research.
4.3 A research project intended only for
academic achievement need not be appraised by the review committee, providing
however that there is an academic research committee for the same.
4.4 All research proposals should have a principal
4.5 The Centre for Social Research will initially
call for pre-proposals which will be appraised and short-listed. Full papers
will be invited only for short-listed pre-proposals. The procedure is as
4.6 Notwithstanding section 4.5, proposals
submitted to the Centre for Social Research without being solicited will
be considered as and when appropriate.
For accountability purposes, the following
measures should be followed:
The Centre for Social Research will call for
and receive project pre-proposals based on the priority research themes;
The pre-proposals will be submitted to the
Centre for Social Research for prioritising and short-listing;
The Centre for Social Research will request
the researchers on the short-list to submit detailed research project proposals
based on their respective pre-proposals;
The detailed research proposals will be submitted
to the Director of the Centre for Social Research for prioritization, consideration
and approval by the CSR Governing Board;
Competent reviewers (to be identified according
to their area of specialization in relation to the proposed projects) will
critically appraise the scientific merit of each proposal;
The Centre for Social Research might invite
the researchers to defend their proposals where the review committee seeks
clarification on a project considered of high priority;
Proponents will be formally informed in writing
about the approved research and budgets. The proponents who are not successful
will also be informed;
Successful proponents will be required to
indicate details of when they intend to start implementing the projects
and their expenditure time-frames;
The Centre for Social Research will organize
a briefing session for all recipients to clarify aspects related to monitoring
and evaluation procedures, reporting requirements and funding arrangements.
5.1 Proposals should have clear outputs;
5.2 Proposals should have a clear budget
based on Research and Publication Committee’s (RPC’s) established rates;
5.3 Progress reports will be required and
detailed in each contract. At the minimum the reports should include expenditure
and supporting documentation. The reports should be made in specified periods
as determined by the Centre;
5.4 Penalties shall be imposed on researchers
who incur unnecessary expenditure and make unsatisfactory progress;
5.5 Researchers should ensure that timely
reports are submitted to the Centre for Social Research.
6.0 MONITORING AND EVALUATION
In order to ensure that research projects
approved by the Centre for Social Research are conducted in line with the
Centre’s research guidelines, the Centre will set up a mechanism to monitor
and evaluate outgoing research as follows:
6.1 Monitoring and Evaluation will be done
by the CSR research staff in the relevant sub-programmes.
6.2 Monitoring and Evaluation will focus
a) Research programmes;
b) Capacity (manpower, facilities, time
management, financial management);
c) Meetings Targets (Action plans - Outputs);
d) Treatment of Data;
e) Issues of ethics.
7.0 RESEARCH CAPACITY
7.1 Social science skills development
In order to build a capacity and strengthen
research skills in the social sciences and academic programme of the University
of Malawi, the Centre for Social Research will give priority to research
projects that have a collaboration element by including students (both
undergraduate and graduate) in the research team.
7.2 Personal Details
All investigators involved in a research
project will be required to submit the following personal details: full
names, qualifications, academic titles, institutional/departmental affiliations
7.3 Institutional Capacity
It is incumbent on researchers to demonstrate
to the Centre for Social Research that they have the capacity in terms
of human capital, institutional capacity, equipment and time to conduct
7.4 Sharing of Resources
The Centre will promote the sharing of
resources among researchers to promote efficiency.
At the end of a research project researchers
will be required to submit a report to the Centre for Social Research.
The research report should include:
8.1 The Executive Summary. This entails:
a) Type of Study;
b) Statement of the problem studied;
c) Significance of study;
e) Summary of literature review;
f) Methodology; and
g) Findings and then dissemination.
The Executive Summary should not exceed
one page - Abstract
8.2 Background information and introduction:
This includes contextual information, relevant literature (local and international)
including most recent published literature.
8.3 Rationale/Information for the Research
This should state why the researcher(s)
felt that the research project was important enough to be carried out.
8.4 Objectives of the Study
The researcher(s) must spell out the issues
valuated as well as specific issues. The targets of the study must be spelt
out and so should the geographical area.
A very detailed explanation of the approach
adopted and the actual methods used and how the data was collected, analysed
and presented and the rationale for doing so should be presented.
8.6 Results and their implications
The results of the research study, their
implications for theory, policy, practice, etc. should be spelt out. Recommendations
as to what should be done or for application should be spelt out.
9.0 LOGISTICS FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAMME
9.1 The CSR Governing Board will meet
regularly as mandated to review the research proposals.
9.2 The Centre for Social Research will
ensure that calls for research proposals are done timely.
9.3 The research proposals submitted for
review shall contain the duration of the project.
9.4 Each activity in the research proposal
shall be given a time frame.
9.5 With progress reports submitted, the
principal investigator shall indicate the activities that will be undertaken
in the following period.
10.0 OWNERSHIP OF RESULTS, DATA AND
10.1 The research results shall be made
available to the collaborators, Centre for Social Research, National Archives,
the affiliation institution and the University Library.
10.2 Five copies of the final report shall
be submitted to Centre for Social Research, in addition, to the reports
given to collaborators, National Archives, affiliation institutions and
the University Library.
10.3 Copies of all raw data collected shall
be submitted to Collaborators, National Archives, Affiliation institution,
Centre for Social Research and the University Library.
10.4 Foreign researchers shall seek permission
to export raw data from the Centre for Social Research.
10.5 Ownership of equipment at the end
of projects shall be decided by stipulations in the contract agreement.
11.1 Publications of research results
is seen as one way of encouraging the conduct of research in the University
of Malawi. Researchers are, therefore, encouraged and expected to publish
their research in both local and international journals.
11.2 The Centre shall continue to support
as far as possible existing journals and the establishment of new journals.
Support will also be given to seminars where researchers may present their
findings. This will allow focussing of research and promote constructive
criticisms of the conduct of research and research results.
11.3 Where researchers, especially expatriate
ones, published their research in outside journals; they are under obligation
to acknowledge the assistance given to them by the Centre for Social Research
to which at least two copies of the publication at stake should be submitted.
12.0 DISSEMINATION OF RESEARCH RESULTS
12.1 The dissemination of research results
generated by research conducted in Malawi is one of the principal means
of promoting academic excellence in the University and informing decision-making
in the public as well as the private sector. Consequently researchers are
required to outline how the research results emanating from their research
will be disseminated and transferred to end-users.