In addition to implementing the HSRC’s framework for tracking presence and impact in the research-policy nexus, the sub-section’s primary role is to enhance understanding of the use of knowledge products from HSRC. These include research reports, policy briefs, HSRC Reviews, books, and journal publications. The purpose of existence for the Impact Assessment Unit is thus to establish the extent to which HSRC knowledge products influence policy making and the extent to which policy makers are aware of research findings from HSRC when they formulate policies. Since the basis for decision making by policy makers varies widely, the role of the Impact Assessment Unit is to ensure that research evidence is accessible to policy makers so they can consider it when formulating policies.
In light of the shrinking funding for research and social services, the unit seeks to support effective decision making so that the limited resources are used optimally. It is thus important for researchers to ensure that policy makers to know the specific areas in need of support as well as the implications of the decisions they make.
This is crucial for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of services from government, because while the research budgets are getting tighter, competing demands are expanding.
The Impact Assessment sub-section uses various approaches and methods to evaluate the impact of research, programs and policies in government and the society in general. The methodology includes quantitative and qualitative impact assessments. We also promote and develop a coherent understanding and strategy on research impact, including the development of quantitative and qualitative research impact indicators.
To this end, some of the unit members successfully completed the ‘Outcomes-based Monitoring and Evaluation Course’ offered by the University of Pretoria. As part of a broader community of practitioners in monitoring and evaluation (M&E), we also support government initiatives to further develop, implement and consolidate M&E systems through process and outcome evaluations. The ‘Evaluation of the Implementation of the Outcomes System’ project that was commissioned by The Presidency’s Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) attests to this role of the unit.
The use of the different types of evaluation enables us to support activities and processes that bridge research, policy and implementation. The different evaluation types include:
• diagnostic evaluation,
• design evaluation,
• implementation evaluation,
• impact evaluation,
• economic evaluation and
• evaluation synthesis.