Poster Paper: Research Capacity Building through International Collaboration: Case Study of Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER)

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Sooho Lee, University of West Georgia and Carolyn Fonseca, Management Systems International

Scientific collaboration research has focused primarily on teams in the US and Europe or between teams from developed nations. Findings from this work have suggested these collaborative efforts often lead to positive impact on expanding the knowledge base and product development. In recent years, donor agencies have focused on promoting and supporting increased international scientific collaboration and funding capacity building activities in research with scientists in developing countries, under the assumption that similar benefits will be attained. These anticipated gains and impacts drive scientists and institutions to engage in global collaboration. However, it is unclear if international collaboration has the same impact and pattern as domestic collaboration. This type of collaboration, between scientists in developing countries and in developed nations, has rarely been studied.

By using data from the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Program - implemented by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - this study investigated the benefits of scientific collaboration on research productivity in developing countries. PEER has unique characteristics different from other international collaborations: developing country researchers are required to partner with a USG-funded researcher as part of the funding criteria. PEER also has a goal to increase national scientific capacity through increased research collaboration with US scientists including access to cutting-edge laboratories, data, and knowledge. Data used in this study came from two surveys with 315 survey entries (190 PEER foreign scientist Principal Investigators and 125 US partner scientists), 97 interviews, and several focus group discussion sessions.

The study examined the following research questions: 1) What are the main benefits from the PEER collaboration?; 2) Does the level of collaboration (e.g., length of relationship, amount of interaction, mode of interaction) have a positive impact on performance outcomes? 3) Are there differential benefits between collaborators?; 4) What are the factors developing country scientists value when choosing their US collaborators? 5) What factors contribute to building scientific capacity in developing countries? The analysis controls important variables such as funding source, country, and socio-demographic factors. In many developing countries, a top science policy priority is building research capacity that requires change in capacity, increased funding for scientists, and access to data/equipment/personnel to carry out scientific activities. Scientists in developing nations often face multiple barriers for implementing research activities including funding limitations to buy-out time from teaching loads, research assistants/graduate students, access to data/information/lab equipment needed to conduct research activities, and obstacles to engage other scientists in partnerships/knowledge exchange opportunities. Findings from this study will help inform future investments in scientific research collaboration, to donors like USAID, providing guidance on where these capacity building efforts can yield the target goals.