A SIMPLE IDEA. AND IT WORKS.
Information is expensive. The Oxbridge Human Development Research Group is a (not-for-profit) think tank that helps NGOs and international development organisations cope with the high costs of tailored research through collaboration with hitherto untapped talent.
Our organisation was founded to close the gap between the high demand for extra research capacity and pro bono/low-cost work in human development research, and the lack of opportunities for experienced student and alumni researchers interested in the area.
We source, train and support students and alumni to offer research, data and logistical solutions to clients that range from the United Nations to local women's groups in South East Asia. And the model works; since 2012 we have steadily built up a satisfied client base and helped our researchers gain much sought after skills and experience.
"A dearth of clear, relevant and reliable research evidence, and difficulty finding and accessing it, [are] the main barriers to the use of research. Access to research, managerial and organisational resources to support finding and using research were all important factors."
- Kathryn Oliver et al on the barriers to policymakers on using research.
To provide any human development organisation -big or small, local or international - with the data, research, and analysis needed to effectively conduct their work;
To offer students experience in working with human development organisations, while developing invaluable personal and professional skills.
In sum, the exchange is simple: we provide a team of trained and experienced researchers and a final tailored project; clients provide us with opportunities, feedback, and recommendations. We have applied this model to our work since 2012, benefiting both organisations and students across the world.
This process also is highly effective. It not only means that we deliver projects which fulfil and often exceed the expectations of our clients, but it also means that our students receive training and experience in a professional methodology, which enables them to develop valuable transferable skills, including time and workflow management, communication and collaboration.
“When public policy is supported by scientifically-sound evidence, it is to the benefit of all of society."
- Professor William Sutherland on a project for the Centre for Science and Policy.
The OHDRG views its work as benefiting both volunteers and clients. Volunteers learn how to apply their academic skills in a professional environment that requires them to stick to firm deadlines, quick turnarounds, and work individually and in teams. Clients secure high quality services that are targeted to their individual project needs at a low (or no!) cost.
Volunteers: Throughout their one-year volunteering experience with us, students:
Become a member of one of the OHDRG's three panels;
Complete 3-4 team projects and 1-2 individual studies;
Undertake mandatory training sessions in the following four areas: research best practices, data analysis and presentation, public speaking, and working in international human development;
Receive personal mentoring from their Panel Ambassadors and Panel Directors.
Client Services: To guarantee that we respond to client needs in a timely manner, and yet maintain the high standards of our products, we follow systematic guidelines:
Our first step is always to understand our client's needs: we determine the specifics of a project with the client, and a time frame for delivery;
With our Panel Ambassadors, we analyse the skills required to complete the project, and put a team together accordingly;
We present the project and deadlines to teams, and assign individual tasks on the basis of priority, complexity and researcher skill set;
On a weekly basis, editors, Panel Ambassadors and Panel Directors revise drafts and provide feedback to researchers;
We then present progress on projects to clients, review further client requests with the team and manage project outcomes accordingly;
The project is only considered to be complete when it has been delivered to and signed off by the client.