Finding Out Fast About the Impact of COVID-19: The Need for Policy-Relevant Methodological Innovation

The article explores a joint research initiative in Bangladesh to illustrate how methodological innovations using mobile phone technologies and pre-existing survey databases can generate rapid and insightful data on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with significant policy influence. Situating this innovation within theoretical and methodological antecedents for rapid appraisal, the authors show how strong local ownership can facilitate innovation, rapid research and strong policy engagement amidst even the most difficult research conditions. Academic researchers in partner organizations further afield must ask important questions about how they can best support such locally led research initiatives: in preparing for, analyzing or writing up the research or in joining efforts to communicate them to wider communities of policymakers and practitioners globally. The findings suggest that replacing face-to-face surveys with mobile surveys is feasible but requires access to pre-existing sampling frames. Researchers must rethink short-term policy engagement and impact planning alongside longer-term discourse-shaping strategies. Research leadership from the Global South is essential for research to achieve impact on short and long-term national policy.

Authors: Rahman, Hossain Zillur; Matin, Imran; Banks, Nicola; Hulme, David
Type: Journal Article