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The Qual-AID Center Project

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USAID Decision and Next Steps for Qual-AID Center

May 15, 2012

To the Qual-AID Center Community:

Unfortunately, our proposal was not selected for the next round of consideration with USAID.

I want to thank you for your support in making this proposal possible. The overwhelming support of over 300 individuals worldwide is testament to the interest people have in wanting to improve how we assess progress in international development work.

Despite not being selected, we believe the areas we addressed in the monitoring and evaluation of international development initiatives are still worth pursuing. Qualitative and participatory approaches can improve how we conduct local studies on a global scale. Effective use of mobile technology including handheld and cloud applications hold great promise by improving access and engagement, reducing time and space, and managing cost and resources. The challenge in enhancing our work in both areas is finding scalable solutions we can sustain and support.

To explore where we can go from here, I am asking for suggestions and ideas how we can build upon our initial grassroots efforts.

To this end I will keep the Qual-AID Center page active by posting new developments and adding links to resources we have identified and created.

The first of these "home-grown" resources is our "Mobile and Cloud Qualitative Research Apps" web page located at http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/apps.html. On this site you will find links to mobile and cloud computing resources researchers are using to conduct their qualitative research today. If you have suggestions for other applications to add, please let me know.

As for web-based resources for monitoring and evaluation I suggest you visit "Monitoring and Evaluation NEWS" located at http://mande.co.uk/. Rick Davies' site is a great place to learn about the latest M&E resources and news.

Thanks again for helping to initiate the Qual-AID Center concept! I also look forward to seeing where we can take this idea from here into the future!

Best wishes,


Ronald J. Chenail, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, The Qualitative Report
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796 USA
Phone: 954.262.5389 | Fax: 954.262.3970
Email: ron@nsu.nova.edu | Web: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR

The Qual-AID Center USAID Proposal

We have proposed the creation of the Qualitative Assistance for International Development Center (Qual-AID Center) in response to the United States Agency for International Development's University Engagement RFA (http://universityengagement.usaid.gov/). In the RFA, USAID calls for the creation of centers tied to higher education and research institutions to strengthen the Agency's policy and program development, monitoring, and evaluation capacities; catalyze innovation around development; support capabilities in science, technology, and engineering; and attract and retain talent for optimizing international development efforts. The goals for these centers are to provide programs and services that can help to elevate the Agency's capacity to effectively conceptualize problems, critically evaluate complex systems and alternative approaches, and better analyze data in order to improve decision-making and development efficacy.

To address these needs, we developed a concept note outlining how the proposed Qual-AID Center at Nova Southeastern University will help USAID enhance its monitoring and evaluation performance by serving as the Agency's qualitative evaluation and mobile technology hub. To accomplish this goal, the Qual-AID Center will provide technical assistance, training, and consultation in Washington and throughout the Agency's Mission system and will develop the next generation of hand-held and cloud technology for monitoring and development.

The Qual-AID Center will conduct original, primary qualitative research on USAID's monitoring and evaluation efforts worldwide and also carry out qualitative analytics and meta-studies on the results of previous Agency monitoring and evaluation efforts to help USAID better understand what works today, to identify future development trends and to question and to critically evaluate past and current efforts. The results of the Qual-AID Center's efforts will help to inform the Agency's policy development, programming and evaluation functions, as well as to produce better, faster evidence-based decisions.

By enhancing USAID's monitoring and evaluation competencies and capacity, the Qual-AID Center will position the Agency to best deal with future development challenges. To this end, the Qual-AID Center will provide training and technical assistance to USAID, its bureaus, missions, and partners around the world to improve the Agency's ability to utilize handheld and cloud technology to generate qualitative development data, evidence, and analysis that can feed into monitoring and evaluation leading to improved policy and programming.

The Qual-AID Center will also include the Mobile Monitoring and Evaluation Lab which will assist in facilitating the Agency's understanding of the range of potential solutions, and gaps for development monitoring and evaluation problems by focusing on hand-held and cloud technology solutions to improve the speed, accuracy, rigor, and usefulness of field-based qualitative research and evaluation methodologies and to enhance the monitoring and reporting of these efforts. The Mobile Monitoring and Evaluation Lab will design, adapt, and rigorously test emerging mobile qualitative research, evaluation, and monitoring technologies and systems for development with partners in developing countries and for incubating new mobile development technologies and entrepreneurial business models.

On Thursday, March 22, 2012, we submitted our concept note in compliance with the USAID timeline. To read the full concept paper, please go to http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/conceptnote.pdf. Those concept notes deemed by USAID to concisely capture their vision for these centers will be shortlisted, and the applicants will be invited to submit Full Applications by July 17, 2012. We are not sure when the decision will be made regarding the short list so we will continue in our efforts to conceptualize the Qual-AID Center and prepare for the full application.

To support this effort, we still want faculty, consultants, researchers, software developers, and students with a desire to improve qualitative research and evaluation on a global scale and to make a difference with international development efforts on a local scale too. We also need to develop collaborative relationships with qualitative research and evaluation associations, international development organizations, mobile research companies and developers, federal social science agencies, higher education institutions, private foundations, and developing countries.

So, if you are interested, please send me the following:

  • Name:
  • Country of Residence:
  • Earned Degrees and Major:
  • Current Degree
  • Program and Major (For Current Students):
  • Professional or Academic Affiliation:
  • International Development Interest and/or Experience:
  • Qualitative Research and Evaluation Interest and/or Experience:
  • Previous USAID, World Health Organization, United Nations, or other developmental foundation, government or non-government experience:
  • Mobile Technology Experience and/or Interest:

As for other next steps, please let me know your thoughts about the Qual-AID Center Concept Note. I also invite you to come to the The Eight International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry which will take place at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign from May 16-19, 2012. On Friday May 18 from 12:00-1:00, Mirka Elina Koro-Ljungberg of the University of Florida and I will facilitate a public forum entitled, "Forming International Networks and Establishing Tools to Conduct Qualitative Evaluation across Cultural Contexts." During that time we will discuss the Qual-AID Center as well as other ways we as qualitative researchers can advance qualitative inquiry as global endeavor.

If you share this link with your colleagues, students, or associates and they are interested in participating, please ask them to subscribe to TQR at http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/qualrpt.html.

Lastly, I thank you for your attention to this proposed project and I look forward to working with you on this project!

Ron Chenail
The Qualitative Report Editor-in-Chief
Email: ron@nsu.nova.edu

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The TQR Community of Nova Southeastern University publishes The Qualitative Report, a peer-reviewed, weekly open access journal. Subscription to TQR is free-of-charge. To unsubscribe please email your request to TQR at tqr@nova.edu.

For more information, please contact Ronald J. Chenail, Ph.D.
The Qualitative Report
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314 USA
Phone: 954.262.3019 | Fax: 954.262.3896
Email: ron@nsu.nova.edu
Home Page: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/index.html

Copyright 2012 Nova Southeastern University

Revised: January 1, 2013