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The professionalisation of research management has been slow at many institutions. While there are isolated examples of good research project administration and models of excellence for research management, there is little consistency among various approaches to research management. This results in significant inefficiencies between institutions and grant providers, and steep learning curves for professionals who move among institutions over the course of their career.

The grantee community finds itself following multiple standards as it seeks to ensure that its research systems keep pace with changing requirements. At the same time, funders seek efficient and effective implementation of research practices. To address these challenges, the SFA Foundation, in partnership with the African Organization for Standardization, is developing an African Standard for Good Research Management Practice (GRMP) to address the needs and expectations of both the grantee and grantor communities for rigourous and efficient research management across Africa.

The Good Research Management Practice (GRMP) standard

A current Technical Draft GRMP standard was developed through consensus among multiple stakeholders including over a hundred research managers from different institutions in 25 countries. It specifies the requirements for organisations of any type, size and complexity to meet the established standards for good research management practice. The GRMP standard can also be used:

  • To build the capacity of research organisations and, where relevant, to incentivise them to aspire to higher tiers of compliance as the scope, complexity and/or risk profile of their operations grow and change.
  • By research funders, both private and public, including regulatory bodies, to execute due diligence on the research organizations they fund and/or support. The standards provide a roadmap to assess general research management practices as well as the return on social and economic impact.

Members of the REMACS Africa steering committee provide strategic guidance for programmatic implementation to address systemic challenges stymieing the creation and sustenance of enabling research environments at African institutions.

How will science policy engagement drive impact:

  • If R&I is to deliver maximum impact and positively change the lives of African people and societies, findings from Africa led R&I research programmes should be translated into recommendations that can be implemented within policy and practice in Africa.
  • Contribute to efficiency and effectiveness within programmes through best practice.
  • Ensure the right questions are formulated, asked, and answered through an African lens.
  • Highlight gaps and key points of evidence within context and in an accurate manner to facilitate comprehension and use.
  • Promote shared understanding, trust and collaboration for meaningful work that drives change regionally and globally
  • Place African experts and policymakers at the centre of science-led policymaking processes in Africa
  • Place contextually relevant data and perspectives at the centre of science-led decision-making process in Africa.

Activities being implemented by SPEAR

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Data Science policy gaps from an African perspective. The African STI landscape is witnessing the emergence of AI and Data Science across various sectors. However, for these technologies to have their full positive impact, it is crucial to develop trust among stakeholders and formulate contextualized policies that support their implementation in the region. This grant aims to address these areas by:

  • Convening African stakeholders to examine and comprehend the policy gaps in AI and Data Science in global health from an African perspective, focusing on but not limited to genomics, clinical trials/drug development, and epidemics/pandemics.
  • In collaboration with African partners, identifying the research and development goals of AI and data science for the betterment of global health from an African perspective.
  • Engaging the public on AI and Data Science policy

" If scientific results are not shared broadly, then the societal benefits are significantly limited. We have a responsibility to ensure that policymakers have access to the best, relevant and up-to-date knowledge available. To achieve Africa’s sustainable development goals, it is critical that policy decisions are informed by contextually relevant evidence”. - Uzma Alam, SPEAR programme lead.