Medical and social scientists as strategic advisors: the case of GloPID-R in 2021

This article by researchers from the GloPID-R Research & Policy team, published on May 1st 2023 in the California Management Review, describes how the funders’ coalition applied an innovative method to determine research priorities at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a context of great uncertainty, the scenario planning method helped them imagine possible futures to determine key research priorities and funding policy.

In February 2021, the GloPID-R leadership formed a Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) and asked it to develop recommendations that would inform GloPID-R’s research funding priorities for the period 2021-2023. With guidance from experts at the Oxford Saïd Business School and support from the GloPID-R Research and Policy team, SAG members applied a novel approach to develop three plausible scenarios of what might occur in the face of a continuing COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

The article appearing in the Spring issue of California Management Review describes the process they followed. “Exploring innovative approaches to research priority setting is essential to improve practice in this field,” said Alice Norton, head of the GloPID-R Research & Policy team. “We are delighted that this article on the novel scenario based approach was published in a strategy focused journal.” It was authored by Giuseppe Paparella, Shirin Elahi, Steven J. Hoffman, Nahoko Shindo, Moses Alobo, Alice Norton, Gail Carson, and Rafael Ramirez.

Scenario planning represents an alternative epistemology and a departure from the method often used by scientists devising research strategies. The Oxford Scenario Planning Approach provided an opportunity to consider a longer-term view, which proved to be especially valuable to make decisions about COVID-related research funding priorities despite conditions that were unprecedented and unpredictable.

Over the course of six weeks, SAG members participated in virtual workshops, interviews and discussions. The findings of the scenario planning exercise were published in the SAG report, entitled “COVID-19: Recommendations & Considerations for GloPID-R, 2021-2023.” To accompany the report, the GloPID-R Co-Chairs formulated recommendations for action and planning by members. Both documents may be accessed on the GloPID-R website.

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.