University of Malawi
23rd December, 1998


1.1 Mandate 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 as follows:

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 capacity building.

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 Research Institutions
  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 Programme
  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.

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 projects.

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 identified:

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 and trade. 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 and biodiversity.
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 mobility.

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 research areas.

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 RESEARCH APPROVAL 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 budget.

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.

  4.2 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 investigator.   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 follows:
4.6 Notwithstanding section 4.5, proposals submitted to the Centre for Social Research without being solicited will be considered as and when appropriate. 5.0 ACCOUNTABILITY For accountability purposes, the following measures should be followed:
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 on:

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 and publications.
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 the research.
7.4 Sharing of Resources
  The Centre will promote the sharing of resources among researchers to promote efficiency.
8.0 REPORTING 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;

d) Objectives;

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 project

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.   8.5 Methodology
  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 EQUIPMENT 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.

11.0 PUBLICATIONS 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.