Guiding Principles

IFPRI Guiding Principles for Policy Research and Policy Advice

October 2006

IFPRI’s research is guided by a mission of generating knowledge to reduce poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. IFPRI’s strategy describes the Institute’s programs and its research and capacity strengthening goals. In pursuit of these goals, IFPRI research staff should adhere to the following guiding principles:

  1. Integrity and Transparency
    • IFPRI generates knowledge and makes it available to all key stakeholders, without supporting any political regime or ideology.
    • The processes by which IFPRI’s research topics are identified and its priorities are set are transparent. IFPRI’s research approaches, methodologies, and results are state-of-the-art and are subject to peer review; IFPRI publishes its peer-reviewed research results and makes them available to all stakeholders.
    • IFPRI recognizes that in some instances, initial research findings must be made available (with appropriate qualifications) to policymakers before a full, formal peer-review process is complete. Such research, including IFPRI discussion papers, is marked as “research in progress.”
    • IFPRI does not shy away from making its voice heard regarding peer-reviewed research findings even if they conflict with conventional wisdom or certain stakeholder interests.
    • Because some of IFPRI’s work is undertaken in complex political environments, the Institute is mindful that controversial policy research findings produced with research partners should not put those partners at risk.
    • IFPRI’s policy advice is guided by research and not by individual opinions (about a country, government, etc.). IFPRI researchers must engage stakeholders with care, bearing in mind that as researchers, their primary role is to inform the debate and not advocate for a cause.
    • In order to maintain its integrity and transparency, IFPRI discourages its research staff from working as de facto consultants for individual policymakers.
  2. Partners and Donors
    • IFPRI research aims to serve the poor, food insecure, and malnourished. Because these clients often do not have a strong voice, IFPRI researchers seek to take their interests into account when conducting and communicating research and capacity-strengthening initiatives.
    • IFPRI’s research is conceived and conducted in consultation with stakeholders in an open manner. Exceptions to stakeholder consultation may include exploratory research or literature reviews.
    • In principle, IFPRI aims to be financially independent. This entails that research programs be funded by multiple donors to avoid dependence on a single donor, though IFPRI recognizes this may not always be possible.
    • The host institutions of IFPRI country- or regional-based programs are selected on the basis of the institutions’ strength in the area of policy research within the country, and on the basis of maximizing their impact on poverty reduction by generating public goods and knowledge and by strengthening national capacity. Host institutions with strong affiliations to particular political interest groups are avoided.
    • Research partners are chosen on the basis of their professional competence or potential for competence; research program advisory committees should consist of a broad range of members, including nongovernmental organizations such as universities, farmer and consumer organizations, and private-sector groups.
  3. Regional and International Public Goods
    • IFPRI undertakes policy research wherever the expected results will have global or regional impact (international public goods).
    • Among other considerations, country-specific studies are selected where a significant poverty-reduction impact can be expected and where the knowledge generated can have a broader impact beyond the country studied.
  4. Guiding Principles
    • Research should directly or indirectly serve the poor—IFPRI’s ultimate clients.
    • Research should be conceived and conducted in consultation with stakeholders in an open manner (exceptions noted above).
    • Research funding should not be linked to pre-conceived research results.
    • Research should be conducted in accordance with the principles of sound scholarship.
    • Research should be freely disseminated, without censorship beyond normal quality controls.
    • Context-specific research should create international public goods by having effects beyond the research site.