The Best of UNICEF Research is celebrating its seventh year. Once again, it showcases a collection of the best research undertaken or supported by UNICEF staff and offices around the world. The Best of UNICEF Research exercise has become eagerly anticipated throughout the organization. Staff in country offices particularly welcome the spotlight on work that helps to shape practice, programming and policy for children worldwide. 2019 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and we can see many pressing issues for children and young people, and for UNICEF, reflected in this year's selection of Best of UNICEF Research 2019 finalists.
In this retrospective, we look back at finalist research from six years of the Best of UNICEF Research exercise to gain perspective on its uptake and pathways to longer-term impact. The numerous examples highlighted here, including six case studies, are drawn from the many interviews conducted in 2018 and 2019 with UNICEF staff, on 37 finalist projects, supplemented by survey responses collected from 410 UNICEF staff, in 2017.
The Best of UNICEF Research initiative celebrates its sixth year. Once again, it showcases a collection of the best research undertaken or supported by UNICEF staff and offices around the world. The ‘Best of UNICEF Research’ exercise has become eagerly anticipated throughout the organization. Staff in country offices particularly welcome the spotlight on work that helps to shape practice, programming and policy for children around the world. As evidence of this engagement, the number of submissions which come from all parts of UNICEF, including National Committees continues to rise, as does the diversity of topics and methods. This year, our highlighted research projects were selected from 104 eligible submissions. All regions were represented, as were most major areas of UNICEF programming. While fields such as health, nutrition, education and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) have generally been strong areas of evidence generation for UNICEF, it is encouraging to see child protection – a relatively underdeveloped field of research – showing prominently in the submitted projects, as well as an increase in cross-sectoral research.
This evidence gap map (EGM) collates the evidence base for adolescent interventions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with a focus on the outcome domains of protection, participation and financial and material well-being. Outcomes relating to the enabling environment for adolescents are also included to capture the contextual influences that might affect the well-being of adolescents. The EGM contains 74 studies (71 impact evaluations and 3 systematic reviews) of evaluated interventions targeting adolescents in LMICs. Most of the evidence is on financial support to individuals and households, where interventions predominantly include conditional cash transfers, and studies frequently evaluate their impacts on child labour and child marriage outcomes. The second largest evidence cluster relates to the impacts of socio-emotional learning and life skills on adolescent protection, particularly protection-related attitudes, skills and knowledge, while psychosocial support is the third most frequently appearing intervention. At the group and community level, the largest bodies of evidence are on financial literacy and savings schemes, and norm change interventions.
The largest evidence gaps are at the policy and institutional level, the enabling environment for adolescent well-being, and the use of and access to information and communication technology (ICT) by adolescents. While coverage of gender is prominent in the literature, only one intervention specifically targets boys and men to promote attitudes towards gender equity. Recommendations for future primary research and synthesis are made. The interactive EGM is available online at www.unicef-irc.org/evidence-gap-map.
The Best of UNICEF Research (BOUR) initiative celebrates its fifth year. Once again, it showcases some of the best and most innovative pieces of research coming out of UNICEF. It reveals diversity in geography, themes and methodologies. The topics demonstrate the added value of UNICEF staff in the field identifying issues that are of relevance at national and local levels but which also have widespread application and the potential to shape the agendas of academic and policy communities. The studies demonstrate the particular capacity of UNICEF to facilitate research across multiple countries within a region, and even cross-regionally.
A number of studies in this volume focus on child protection issues – a welcome addition to research in a field for which evidence is often limited or fragmented, and where the work of UNICEF has potential to drive a research and evidence agenda with global impact. Other studies focus on children in conditions of extreme vulnerability and exploitation – where issues of appropriate methods and ethical safeguards become paramount. The situation of children with disabilities is another welcome addition to the themes covered by BOUR – highlighting its growing importance on the agenda of governments and of UNICEF.
This Report Card offers an assessment of child well-being in the context of sustainable development across 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The Best of UNICEF competition identifies a number of studies that are assessed to be of particular merit on a number of criteria: in terms of the relevance and interest of the topic and findings; the rigour of their methodology; and the potential for impact, including lessons that could inform programmes elsewhere, or the capacity for replication or scaling up. Issues covered include health, education, WASH, child protection and social inclusion. There was also a strong emphasis on qualitative and mixed methods research, demonstrating the value of rigorous qualitative studies. A number of studies selected as of special merit in 2016 involved research directly with children and there is an increasing recognition that children’s perspectives are of primary importance. There was also a welcome attention to gender in some of the studies, including research with both adolescent boys and girls.
The extent to which the socio-demographic composition of child populations drives inequality in child well-being depends on which children are most likely to do much worse than their peers. In this Research Brief we present evidence on the socio-economic vulnerability of immigrant children and highlight the relative contribution of immigrant background to the risks of falling behind in household income, education, health and life satisfaction.
In 2013 the Office of Research-Innocenti initiated a competition to discover and highlight the outstanding research undertaken by UNICEF offices. This publication reports on a number of projects submitted to the 2015 Best of UNICEF Research competition which illustrate the range of research being undertaken by UNICEF staff in country and regional offices, at headquarters, and in collaboration with academic and government partners.
In order to showcase the best UNICEF research from around the world, the Office of Research-Innocenti undertakes an annual selection process carried out across the organization: in country and regional offices, at headquarters divisions and National Committees. Following a rigorous review and selection process, a very strong group of twelve studies were short-listed from the submissions.