International Development Research Papers

Building on previous reflections on the utility of systematic reviews in international development research, this paper describes an approach to carrying out a literature review that adheres to some of the core principles of ‘full’ systematic reviews, but that also contains space within the process for innovation and reflexivity. We discuss all stages of the review process, but pay particular attention to the retrieval phase, which, we argue, should consist of three interrelated tracks – important for navigating difficult ‘information architecture’. We end by clarifying what it is in particular that sets this approach apart from fuller systematic reviews, as well as with some broader thoughts on the nature of ‘the literature review’ within international development and the social sciences more generally. The paper should thus be seen as sitting somewhere between a practical toolkit for those wishing to undertake a rigorous, evidence-focused review and a series of reflections on the role, purpose and application of literature reviews in policy research.

The titles below open links to the project details on Gateway to Research (external website).

A behavioural economic analysis of agricultural investment decisions in Uganda

Funded until February 2015

A behavioural economic analysis of reproductive health in Burkina Faso and Tanzania

Funded until June 2019

A comparative analysis of the documentation of torture and ill-treatment in low-income countries

Funded until October 2016

A comparative study of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of alternative poverty eradication interventions in extremely poor areas of Northern Ghana

Accountability for gender equality in education: Critical perspectives on an indicator framework for the SDGs

Accountability, capacity and trust to improve learning outcomes in South Africa; a systems approach

Achieving policy coherence in challenging environments: Risk management and aid culture in Sudan and Afghanistan

Agency and governance in contexts of civil conflict

Agricultural misallocation, occupational choice and aggregate productivity - The role of insecure land rights and missing financial markets

Agricultural supply chains, growth and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa: Market structure, farm constraints and grass-root institutions

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