Knowledge for Development

Demand-led Research: Case Study Methodology

Author: CTA with CABI International Africa Regional Centre

Date: 23/03/2006


This document describes the methodology for a case study to be implemented by the partner ACP institution.  The relevant term of reference is:

' Develop a methodology for the conduct of a case study by an ACP institution in each of the two target countries for developing and implementing demand-led research programmes for one selected sub-sector and bringing relevant issues to the attention of policy makers within a minimum of 6 months following the training intervention.  This activity will serve to evaluate the success of the training intervention in three critical areas; research priority setting, involvement of other actors in the decision making processes, and influencing policy makers.'

The key elements required of the case study are therefore:

  • Developing and implementing demand-led research programmes;
  • Bringing relevant issues to the attention of policy makers;
  • Research priority setting; and
  • Involving other actors in the decision making process.

The case study is to be completed in six to ten months after the training course, so the methodology is designed with that timescale in mind.  Significant policy changes and realignment of research priority setting procedures in national agricultural research systems are processes which can take years to achieve, so the case study methodology is also designed with the aim of initiating changes that should develop and mature long after the case study is complete.  The methodology is therefore designed not only to provide an achievement within the life of the case study, but to set the scene for longer term individual, organizational and institutional changes that will enhance the collaboration between actors in the ASTI system.


Overview of methodology

The case study is to be conducted in the context of the following previous activities:

  • A training workshop on analysis of ASTI systems in ACP countries;
  • National studies to analyze the ASTI systems in selected sub-sectors;.
  • National training workshops which
    • Introduced the elements of demand led research; and
    • Undertook a preliminary research prioritization exercise for the selected sub-sector.

The case study will consist of a series of stakeholder consultations in different parts of the country followed by a national meeting involving policy makers.  The results of the study will be:

  • Ownership of a research agenda by a wide range of actors;
  • A preliminary research agenda based on demand from different stakeholders; and
  • Awareness and involvement by policy makers of the approach and outcomes.

 For each stage in the methodology the following information is given.

Background. An overview of the stage and its objectives.

Who is involved? The person or organization responsible for the stage, and other participants and their roles.

How is it done? The methods to be used and activities to be undertaken in the stage.

What is achieved? The results or outputs of the stage.

When is it done? The suggested timing of the different stages.  A workplan indicating all the stages is given in Appendix A, but this is for guidance only and can be adjusted as necessary.


Stage 1. Form task force


The ACP organization will have overall responsibility for conducting the case study, and this should be managed by a small task force.  The task force will be involved in the preparations, implementation and synthesis of the case study, and its formation ensures the necessary expertise is available.


An officer of the ACP organization will be the task force leader.  Two or three other members are required, and should be drawn from amongst the training course participants. The taskforce members should represent the different stakeholder or actor categories as defined in the ASTI study.


The formation of the task force will facilitate the necessary collaborative arrangements between actor groups and allocation of responsibility for the case study activities.


The task force should be formed as soon as possible.


Stage 2. Plan stakeholder consultations


The stakeholder consultations must promote active involvement and participation, using the principles covered in the training course.


The task force will design the stakeholder consultation.


A draft programme and methodology for the stakeholder consultations is given under stage 3. The task force should meet to fill in details and make any modifications that they feel appropriate.  The host organizations for the consultations, who will be responsible for organizing each consultation, and where they will be held must be clearly defined.  The task force leader is responsible for organizing the meetings in collaboration with a contact person in each of the hosting institutions.

Consultations should be planned to take into account the major production areas of the country, as well as provide an opportunity for involvement of different stakeholder groups. At least 4 consultations should be held.


The outcome of the planning will be a schedule for hosting the stakeholder consultations, a finalized programme and an agreed methodology for each consultation.


The planning for stakeholder consultations should take place in month 1.


Stage 3. Stakeholder consultations


The stakeholder consultations aim to collect views and information from a wide variety of actors, particularly those that are ‘users of innovations’ rather than the researchers. The emphasis is thus on enabling demand to be expressed.  The consultations will build on the preliminary exercise undertaken during the training workshop, to widen the inputs to the process and promote linkages among stakeholders.


The consultations will be organized and led by the task team.  At each consultation there should be about 10 - 15 participants (maximum 20).  The exact balance of participants from the targetted stakeholder groups will depend on the location of the different meetings, but it is recommended that research scientists should constitute no more than a quarter of the number.  Three quarters of the participants should come from other groups such as:

  • Producers, grower organizations;
  • Processors, transporters;
  • Service and support organizations working with growers (such as NGOs, extension services, unions);
  • Input suppliers;
  • Credit, finance, marketing boards, investment promotion agencies; and
  • Regulatory boards and agencies.


The box shows a suggested programme for the consultation which can be completed in less than one day.  The programme should draw on the methodology and content of the training course to ensure that the consultation promotes participation.  If time allows practical exercise could be conducted to promote interaction.

The task force leader or other team member should provide an introduction to the objectives of the meeting which are:

  • To introduce participants to demand led research;
  • To promote linkages and interaction between different stakeholders; and
  • To gather views from the users of research on the problems they face and what research areas they would want pursued.

The task force leader or one of the team members should also provide a short presentation on demand-led research.  This can be based on presentations made during the training course, emphasizing those parts most relevant to the particular group.

A plenary brainstorm should then be held, also following the approach used in the training course.  Participants should be requested to think about the problems and constraints that they face or know about in the selected sub-sector.  A facilitator should lead the session, with participants given the chance to speak briefly about the constraint (s) they perceive.  Each constraint should be written on a card (one per card) and the cards stuck on the wall for everyone to see.  The facilitator should emphasize that the problems can be wide ranging, and not confined to production issues.  When all participants have had a chance to speak, the facilitator should lead a discussion to group the constraints and problems into clusters.  This process should not be laboured over as the clustering is not critical to the success of the exercise.


Box: Draft Programme for Stakeholder Consultation

0800 Registration
0830 Welcome and introductions
0900 Introduction and objectives of meeting
0930 Demand-led research presentation
1000 Identification of problems and constraints
1045 Tea
1115 Introduction to group work
          Identification of research topics
1300 Lunch
1400 Presentation of group work
1445 Presentation of previous research topics
1530 Tea and depart


After the plenary sessions the participants should be divided into three groups, each of which will need flip charts and marker pens.  The groups should be provided clear verbal instructions, based on a handout to be provided (see box).  Each of the groups should then present their results, allowing opportunity for discussion and comment.  The clusters of problem and constraints should be divided between the three groups to give roughly equal workloads.  The division of participants into groups should be done in a way that ensures different categories of actors are represented in all the working groups.  It is suggested that a member of the task force is assigned to each group to act as a facilitator, and to make sure discussions stay on track.


Box: Draft handout for group work

Research topics
In your group, review all the problems and constraints that have been allocated.  For each problem or constraint, consider what Research could be undertaken to help reduce the problem.  Note that research is not the same as solving a problem.  For example, a problem might be that roads used for sending produce to market are bad.  The solution would be to build or maintain the roads, but that is not research.  However, research could be undertaken to help policy makers decide on whether to allocate more funds to road maintenance.  So a suitable research topic to help solve the problem of poor roads could be an economic evaluation of the costs and benefits of maintaining roads in relation to the selected sub-sector.  Look at each problem or constraint and identify any relevant research topics.  Some problems may have no obvious researchable issue, while others might have more than one.  Some research topics may address several problems.

After listing all the research topics, give an estimate of the priority of each, as low, medium or high.  During the presentation of the group work, be ready to explain why you ranked the research topics as you did.


The groups should then present their findings, and any similarities and differences noted.  Where there is a large difference in ranking for similar research topics, discussion should seek to obtain a consensus from the participants.

A final plenary session should present the key results of the training workshop at which a preliminary identification of research topics was made.  Again any differences or similarities between the topics identified in the consultation and those previously identified should be discussed.  The process of using identified criteria to rank research topics can be introduced, but details should not be given.  The aim of this session should be to stimulate feedback from the participants.  It is important that good notes are taken of the plenary sessions so that the results can be written up.


The outcomes of the consultations will be:

  • Involvement of a wide range of people in the process, so broad ownership;
  • A list of problems and constraints in the sub-sector; 
  • A list of possible research topics with a qualitative assessment of priority; and 
  • Feedback on the research priorities identified at the training workshop.


The consultations should take place in months 3-4.


Stage 4. Synthesis of constraints and research topics


The results of the consultations need to be compiled and synthesized to give a consolidated output.


The synthesis will be undertaken by the task force leader.


The constraints and problems from the training workshop and those from the stakeholder consultations need to be merged to provide a single consolidated list.  Where there are obvious duplications they should be eliminated.  If there is any doubt or ambiguity, it is better to retain rather than discard views.

The final list should then be clustered for ease of presentation in the report. The groupings used in the training workshop can be retained or new categories created if the task team prefers.

Research topics also need to be clustered under the same headings, and presented together with their qualitative priority.  The origin of the topic (which meeting) should also be indicated, again promoting ownership of the output.


The output of the synthesis will be consolidated findings of the consultations, comprising problems and constraints, possible research topics to address the constraints, and an initial assessment of their priority.


The synthesis should be completed in month 5.


Stage 5. Scan of existing research


Prioritizing research must take account of existing research to avoid duplication, and use and build on results already available.  This step will not involve a full review but simply identify areas where research is ongoing.


This step is undertaken by the task force with additional technical expertise co-opted as needed.  Other task force members and stakeholders should be encouraged to provide information.


For each of the identified potential research topics in the consolidated list prepared under stage 4, a note should be made of any ongoing national research, and whether it is adequately addressing the specific topic.  If little or no research on the topic is in progress, or if research is planned, this should also be stated.

The information can be presented in a table as follows.

Research Topic : The topics identified by the training workshop and stakeholder consultations

Status : Status of any research on the topic in the country: None, planned, ongoing, or completed

Organizations : The organizations involved in any identified research

Brief description : A sentence describing the purpose of any identified research.

If there is more than one existing research effort related to a topic, there may be more than one line in the table for the topic. International research projects that members are aware of that have relevance should be mentioned.


The output will be a table listing the potential research topics identified by the training workshop and stakeholder consultations, together with a brief indication of any existing relevant research.


The scan should be completed in month 5.


Stage 6. National seminar


An important part of demand-led research is engaging policy makers, and raising their awareness of the issues and options.  The national seminar will do this through presenting the findings of the case study and promoting dialogue among stakeholders at a senior level.


The task force will organize and lead the seminar.


The seminar should be short (half day maximum) so that policy makers are able to attend.  Participants should be senior representatives of the different stakeholder groups, including small-scale farmers.  Policy makers and government representatives should be invited not only from the ministries relating to science, research, agriculture, education, but also trade, industry and commerce and any others that are relevant to specific research topics.  For example, if transportation of produce due to poor roads is a problem, and a research topic has been identified as an economic analysis of the cost to the sub-sector of poor roads, then representatives from the ministries responsible for roads and/or transport should be invited.  Thus the participants should be a group of people who perhaps do not usually meet to discuss such issues.  A meeting which is largely composed of researchers and scientists should be avoided.

With senior government representation it should be possible to ensure good media coverage of the event.  A press briefing should be prepared to hand out at the seminar, together with the policy brief.

A draft programme is shown in the box.

A keynote address on the sub-sector should be presented by a policy maker, preferably from the economic or trade perspective rather than the agricultural perspective.

The presentation on demand-led research can be based on the one used in the stakeholder consultations, and should aim to make the policy makers aware of the changes that are required, particularly at organizational and institutional level.

A presentation on the research prioritization exercise should be made covering the outcome of the training workshop and the stakeholder consultations, highlighting any issues of particular importance to policy makers.

A final plenary discussion can cover any points arising from the presentations, but possible questions for discussion include:

  • How can research in the sub-sector become more demand-led?
  • What institutional and organizational changes need to be made to support demand-led research;
  • What formal structures (such as cross-sectoral committees, public-private sector fora etc) can be used or created to enhance communication and linkages in the ASTI system.

Box: Draft Programme for National Seminar

0830 Registration
0900 Welcome and remarks by chief guests
0930 Objectives of the meeting
0945 Keynote address
1000 Identification of problems and constraints
1015 Tea
1045 Presentation on demand-led research
1115 Presentation on research prioritization exercise
1145 Plenary discussion
1300 Lunch



The discussions at the seminar should be written up as part of the case study report.


The seminar should take place in month 6.


Stage 7. Reporting and dissemination


The case study must be written up and reported to stakeholders in a variety of ways.  Policy makers will have been involved in the study itself which is an effective method of influencing them, but additional methods are also required.


The national ACP institution will be responsible for coordinating the reporting and dissemination, with the support of the task force.  CAB International and CTA will comment on the draft report, and other partners should also have the opportunity to do so.


Three dissemination channels are suggested.

Case study report.  The report will be structured around the methodology so will include the outputs of the different stages.  The final report should be distributed to all the participants in the consultations and all researchers in the sub-sector after approval by CABI and CTA.

Policy brief.  A policy brief should be prepared detailing the policy implications of the case study.  These will probably concern the sub-sector science and technology innovation system and how it can be enabled to function more effectively.  If the study raises key researchable issues relating to policy, these could also be mentioned.  Guidance on writing policy can be found in the materials provided during the training course.  The brief should be attractively printed and be ready for handing out at the national seminar.

Web sites.  Outputs of the project will be posted on the CTA web site, but they should also be made available via the websites of the stakeholders and the case study implementing organization after approval by CTA.


The written outputs of the reporting will be a full report and a policy brief.  They will have been disseminated via web sites and a seminar with media coverage.


Reporting and dissemination activities will be undertaken in month 7.


July 2005