Improvements for evaluating research capacity strengthening

TDR news item
27 January 2014

A review of 7 funder evaluation frameworks of health research capacity strengthening programmes has identified key characteristics and opportunities for improvements. The Health Research and Policy Systems journal published the article, which was written, in part, to assess the use of the ESSENCE on Health Research initiative’s good practice documentation the topic.

The frameworks that were analysed came from:
  • Danish Development Cooperation
  • ESSENCE on Health Research Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Capacity Strengthening in Health Research
  • TDR, The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases
  • National Institutes of Health: Fogarty International Center (FIC-NIH)
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

The authors report that frameworks could be improved by including information on how to do evaluation in practice, involving stakeholders more, following evaluation capacity building principles, emphasizing more the underlying rationales of the frameworks, and structuring them so they separate generic and project-specific aspects.

The authors noted TDR’s evaluation’s strengths included good accessibility through the glossary and diagrams and stakeholder involvement in developing the framework.

The analysis is being used to further develop the ESSENCE good practices series, which now numbers 2 different documents – the evaluation framework practices, 5 keys to improving research costing in low- and middle-income countries. A third document is in its final preparation on the principles for strengthening research capacity in LMICs.

TDR partnerships and governance manager Dr Garry Aslanyan was one of the authors, along with Alan Boyd of the University of Manchester Business School; Donald C Cole and Dan-Bi Cho, University of Toronto; and Imelda Bates, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

For more information, contact:

Garry Aslanyan (

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