Evaluation of United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

Funded by: Department for International Development (DFID)


July 2013 to April 2014


Annette Boaz, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, a partnership between Kingston University and St George’s, University of London

Halina Ward, independent consultant

Teresa Jones, independent consultant

PSI researchers:

Ben Shaw

Bridget Elliott

Martha Bicket

Halina Ward

Background, summary and aims

The purpose of this project is to conduct an evaluation to assess the performance of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) during the period of April 2008 – March 2013. The specific focus of this evaluation is to provide a rigorous and independent assessment of the quality and relevance of UNRISD research and research uptake; outcomes and impacts of UNRISD research including influence on the policies and programmes of the United Nations (UN) secretariat and other funds and programmes; value for money and organisational management; and to identify lessons and implications for UNRISD as it moves forward. 

Project design

The research will use a mixed method approach to evaluate the performance and impact of UNRISD and will collect and utilise data from document analysis; observation of, and interviews, with UNRISD staff, research users and stakeholders; online surveys of stakeholders and research users; and bibliometric analysis. The evaluation’s analysis methods will be informed by recent developments in the evaluation of research uptake and impact.

To ensure value for money and prevent duplication of work the approach will build on and complement the existing relevant material from external evaluations, internal UNRISD documents and other sources to address the central questions of the evaluation:

A) How effectively is UNRISD delivering its research and uptake strategies, having careful regard to outputs (volume, types and quality), engagement of Southern researchers and perspectives and mainstreaming gender?

B) What have been the intended, unintended, positive and negative outcomes and impacts of UNRISD research?

Importance of research

The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) was established in 1963 to conduct multi-disciplinary research on contemporary social development issues that could inform the economic policies and planning activities of the United Nations system and national governments. Its status as part of the UN system but autonomous in its decision-making and governance ensures the independence of UNRISD research and provides a unique institutional location from which to influence policy at senior levels in the international system.

This research is intended to both provide lessons to UNRISD itself on its effectiveness and impact, and also to establish the value of money of the UK’s support, through DFID, to UNRISD.

Information for participants

This information sheet provides further information for those asked to take part in this project.