The strong tradition of development research in Sweden dates about six decades back. Both internationally and in the Nordic context, Swedish development researchers have made significant contributions. However, until this Spring, no formal association of development researchers has existed in Sweden. Now, the Swedish Development Research Network (SWEDEV) has been launched and its first bi-annual assembly will be held on 17 June 2021 as a side-event to the online DevRes 2021 conference scheduled for 14-16 June 2021.
The formation of the Swedish Development Research Network (SWEDEV) follows a national survey among development researchers and research managers. The feedback from 578 respondents, who identified themselves as “development researchers”, was compiled in a report, which also includes a historical account of development research as an academic discipline at Swedish universities and research institutions.
The main findings documented in the report ‘Development Research in Sweden’ April 2020 are:
- The Swedish research community is quite fragmented with many smaller research environments geographically spread throughout Sweden. In fact, most respondents reported that they are not part of any formal research group or network. The analysis of the survey showed that researchers who are affiliated with a formal development related network perform better in terms of academic output compared to those who remain unaffiliated.
- The research community is quite diverse. Development researchers are employed across a wide range of faculties, departments and different types of research centres. The community has expanded far beyond social sciences into the natural sciences, medicine and global health. In Sweden, it now includes all researchers conducting research of relevance to poor countries or in some way related to development. As such, development research has expanded into ‘development-related research’.
- The survey showed that respondents on the average spent 15% of their time on teaching development studies, they are active in research communication, and 70% stated that they are interacting with wider society. Also, a majority asked for more opportunities for interaction with development practitioners and policymakers. A recent study published by the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) details the importance of the research-practice nexus.
In conclusion, the report points to an urgent need, due to the expansion of the definition of what constitutes development research, to bring together the significant number of researchers involved in research targeting development challenges in Global South countries across disciplines and fields of research.
As a researcher connected to the development research environment in Sweden, you may register as a member of SweDev on the basis of your Orcid registration, the content of which are carried directly into the SweDev database. A separate registry is open to Master students.
DDRN.dk congratulates SWEDEV on its launch. In Denmark, a somewhat parallel initiative to coordinate development research came into being in 2007, when Danish Development Research Network (DDRN) was formed as a merger of three existing thematic networks: The Research Network for Governance, Economic Policy and Public Administration (GEPPA), the Network for Agricultural Research for Development (NETARD) and the Research Network for Environment and Development (ReNED). However, the final report on the DDRN experience ‘Producing knowledge for development together’. Lessons from the Danish Development Research Network’ was published in 2011, when DANIDA withdrew its core funding of the DDRN secretariat and its numerous and diverse networking activities.
In 2017, DDRN.dk was relaunched as an on-line media for research communication. So far, DDRN.dk has published two articles on Swedish research funding targeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
Nov 15, 2019: What does success look like for the SDGs?
On the issue of financing research In Denmark, a Swedish consultancy team, commissioned by DANIDA to evaluate ten years of DANIDA funded development research 2008-2018 observes on page 97 in their report published in March 2020 the low profile of research development which ‘without a clear niche or strategy might move in directions that discourage the relatively small Danish development research community’.
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