UNICEF staff are so preoccupied with the increasingly complex task of assisting the most vulnerable children that they don’t often realize the extent and quality of research their offices and programmes throughout the world carry out.
UNICEF is actually a major global research organization with hundreds of research projects carried out each year to underpin its programmes, policy and advocacy work. Its work addresses new and emerging development challenges, and advances knowledge on children with relevance often well beyond the local country context.
In order to showcase the best of all UNICEF research efforts, the Office of Research-Innocenti undertakes an annual selection process carried out across the organization: in country and regional offices, at headquarters divisions and National Committees.
This year 79 entries were officially submitted and a total of 65 met the publicized acceptance standard developed for the process. The range of themes covered and geographic representation among the finalists was impressive.
Following a rigorous internal review process twelve finalist entries were shortlisted for special recognition from a very strong group of submissions. Summaries of these twelve research studies have now been published by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, and are officially part of its catalogue.
These 12 finalists were further reviewed by an independent panel of experts who are familiar with UNICEF research but do not work for the organization. They highlighted the finalists below: the first two for their potential for impact, two for policy relevance, and the last two for merit and policy relevance at the country level.
Here they are described in the words of the external assessors:
- The Adolescent girls vulnerability index (Uganda): “Its strength is in the pioneering of the development of an adolescent girls’ vulnerability index and the potential for it to be replicated across countries and allow for an objective comparison measure.”
- Zambia: Social Cash Transfer 24 Month Impact Report: “This innovative piece of research evaluating a non-conditional cash transfer scheme was carried out with a well-developed conceptual framework, presenting complex, insightful and policy-relevant findings in an engaging and articulate manner.”
- Preventing Exclusion from the child support grant (South Africa): “The study uses a strong design and has the potential to be replicated in other settings to identify factors that influence social assistance exclusion.”
- Effects of the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme on children and adolescents: “A major strength is the mixed methods approach starting with quantitative data contrasting intervention and comparison groups followed by qualitative data using purposive selection and participatory approaches.”
- Effect of Iron Deficiency Anaemia in pregnancy on child mental development in Rural China: “This very focused study – published in the journal Paediatrics – takes a longitudinal observational approach to explore the effect of iron deficiency anaemia among mothers on cognitive and mental development of their children.”
- Policy Impact Analysis: Additional support to students from vulnerable groups in Pre-university education (Serbia): “In many ways, this is a bold and path-breaking piece, and highly relevant within Serbia’s current political and social policy agendas. The study combines a mix of very detailed mapping of institutional initiatives within the country and comparative analysis of evidence of education reform in OECD countries applied to the Serbian context.”
You can find the complete Best of UNICEF Research 2014 publication with summaries of the 12 shortlisted works here, on the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti website, with links to the full research papers.