While there is growing demand for evidence-based policymaking in Myanmar, social sciences are often overlooked by government in pursuing national development and policy goals, according to a new report published by the Global Development Network.
The report, Doing Research in Myanmar, provides a broad analysis of the social research landscape in Myanmar, with a view to ensure that reforms are contextualised and informed by knowledge of the local environment.
Doing Research in Myanmar details qualitive data collected through a mixed method research module. The module, Doing Research Assessment, is an initiative of the Global Development Network used to understand, map and assess research systems in different countries.
This research project was run in Myanmar by the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD). The Director for ANU’s Myanmar Research Centre, Dr Charlotte Galloway, mentored the research team throughout the assessment.
The main findings of the assessment were:
- Research funding for social sciences are low on the list of government priorities
- Research funding comes with stringent budgetary rules, which constrain longer-term studies or the ability of projects to adapt to changing circumstances or policy demands
- There is no national research policy in Myanmar
- As ‘civil servants’, academics in public universities are often burdened with administrative duties, the supervision of students or heavy teaching loads
- Women make up 75 per cent of researchers in Myanmar
- There is limited collaboration among government research institutions, public universities and other relevant government departments, resulting in overlapping and duplicated research, and making it difficult for researchers to access reliable data
- There is no formal peer review culture
- Popular opinions supersede research evidence in policy discussions
- Informality is prevalent in the linkages between researchers, organisations and policymakers.
The report also outlines levers of change based on the findings identified through the assessment. This includes establishing a national research body and robust peer review system, as well as prioritising investment in research capacity, infrastructure and funding.
The report also emphasises the importance of empowering local researchers to provide technical assistance to policymakers, and enhancing collaboration among government research institutions, public HEIs and other relevant government departments.
This study is the first to examine the research landscape in Myanmar, with a focus on social sciences.
A podcast launching the report is available through Asia Research News, with discussants Charlotte Galloway and Katri Pohjolainen (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), and a conversation with Zaw Oo, Director CESD. Access the full report and webinar on the Global Development Network website.