Systematic Review


In an overview of studies on India in the United States, Devesh Kapur of the University of Pennsylvania has some less than complimentary things to say about RCTs. They mirror some of my comments about systematic reviews here, the next layer of RCTs, though I do not say anything about the benefits to reseachers like Devesh does. By contrast, there has been a considerable increase in India-related work in the social sciences. The field has become much more empirical and India offers several advantages for a researcher: large sample sizes, heterogeneity in multiple dimensions, relatively low cost of gathering data, and weak official oversight (which, in any case, is unlikely to be enforced). It would be hard to do many of these trials in the US or China.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) offer various opportunities for persons unable to or unwilling to participate in conventional employment. LIRNEasia in association with World Bank Group organized the Launch of World Development report 2016 and related LIRNEasia Research. The objective was to inform and realize digital dividends for Sri Lanka’s youth through inclusive livelihood. The launch event was commenced by World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka & Maldives, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough framing the World Development Report for 2016 entitled digital dividend. World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka & Maldives Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough World Bank entitled Digital Dividends describes the opportunities created by ICTs and discusses the need for complementary (or “analog”) actions by government and other actors to realize the full benefits of ICTs.
As can be seen, the language used by Sujata Gamage in her op ed on the education proposal in the 2017 Budget Speech was very nuanced and academic. But the problem was that politicians tend not to read to the end, choosing to form their opinion from the headline. In this instance, the headline was “Can tabs do what PCs or bricks could not do for education?” But looking at that headline, I do not see anything near the kind of attack common in many of mine. It after all ends with a question mark.
The results of the systematic review on the impact of mobile financial services in low- and lower middle-income countries were disseminated on 17 June 2016 at the Microtel Libis in Quezon City, Philippines. Dr. Erwin Alampay, who led the systematic review team, shared the results of the study that showed significantly higher volumes of remittances being received by m-financial service users compared to non-users. The slides can be accessed here. The event was also used as a platform to discuss the status of and issues pertaining to mobile money in the Philippines at large.
It was good to see a succinct summary of the discussions at last week’s dissemination event in New Delhi, come out in the widely read Dataquest India. Recently LIRNEasia (Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies Asia) along with IIT Delhi organized an expert forum discussion on the impact of ICT on MSMEs(Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) in the developing countries. The forum disseminated the findings of two Systematic Reviews undertaken at LIRNEasia for dissemination among the policy makers and change agents, and to bring relevant stakeholders to share their experiences. The forum was conducted at IRD Conference Room, IIT Delhi, on 26th April 2016. Dr.
On 26 April 2016, Dr Vigneswara Illavarasan who led the Systematic Review on ICTs and MSMEs, convened an expert roundtable to discuss the results and to learn from those working in the field. To round out his study, which was focused on urban areas, I presented the Systematic Review on the impact mobiles had on rural livelihoods and related indicators. The invitees were experts in the field, except for the Ministry representatives everyone who had said they’d come did come, and the discussion of rich with insights. The slides on MSMEs are here. The slides on rural livelihoods are here.
I am giving a talk at the College of Communication and Information at the Florida State University in Tallahassee tomorrow. The slides are here. Preparing for the talk made me think more deeply about LIRNEasia’s theory of change. I will also include some discussion of our systematic review on impacts of mobile telephony in rural areas, given this is an ICTD audience.
A systematic review of ICT integration in education in the developed world. Presented by Sujata Gamage at ICT4Education Research Dissemination Event “Strategies for optimizing benefits of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for education in Developing Asia” held on 2016 Nov 26, 2015, at the Committee Room E, BMICH, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
LIRNEasia CEO took part in the Leadership Summit at the ITU Telecom World 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Yesterday she took part in a panel discussion making innovations in ICT work for social impact, and used the results of LIRNEasia’s Systematic Review titled “Mobile-phone interventions for improving economic and productive outcomes for farm and non-farm rural enterprises and households in low and middle-income countries” to make the point about network rollout and good regulation.
We’ve been working on nudges, randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews for years. Now, with big data, we’re proposing experimentation. This is what governments in the developed economies are doing. Perhaps even more than new ideas, the behavioral group is bringing a new approach to government. Experimentation is the key: Different nudges are tried systematically, results are quantified and, even after the best approach is selected, the team goes back to see how things are working.
It used to be that people contributed to or initiated policy debate through the media. Now it seems that Linked In or Facebook posts are the preferred medium. There is a shortcoming in this approach in that it is not truly public, but it may bleed into the public media through journalists who participate in these private fora. Something is better than nothing. My eyes were drawn to one of the three points raised recently for the attention of Sri Lanka’s ICT Agency: ICT is not another subject anymore.
Earlier today, I made a presentation at a well-attended lunch-time seminar at the LKY School at the National University of Singapore on the work done by LIRNEasia’s systematic review teams on mobile phone impacts in rural areas, mobile financial services and ICTs in the classroom. Sujata Gamage, the leader of the education SR team, presented the education section. The slides are here. Perhaps the most interesting thing I took away from the discussion was that generally SRs tend to systematically confirm what we already know. At most, like with our SR which showed that the evidence of impacts from mobile-based information services was not solid, it questions established knowledge.
It’s been almost two months since ICTD. For some reason, this summary which had been written immediately after we concluded our session on SRs, had not been posted. There is a degree of discomfort among some academics about systematic reviews (SRs). Researchers worry about the limited resources available from funders being channeled to SRs and quantitative research, at the expense of alternative methods. We believe that the debate will be more productive if people fully understand the subject under discussion.
We are organizing two sessions and are featured in two others. On the first day, 15th May (Friday), the completed and ongoing work on systematic reviews will be showcased at 1100 hrs. The team leaders on the education, mobile money and SME systematic reviews will present their ongoing work. On the same day, at 1530 hrs, LIRNEasia will join its sister organizations RIA and DIRSI in a panel that discusses data for development. On the fourth day at 0900, we are organizing a session on taking evidence from big data research to policy.
I was in Thimphu, speaking to more than half of the small regulatory agency’s professional staff. I’ve been engaged with BICMA since its inception in 2001 and I routinely volunteer to do something with the staff when I visit. This time, I offered to talk about systematic reviews, centered on one that we completed recently on the economic benefits of mobiles in rural areasbust re Bhutan had spent 80 percent of its universal-service funds on rural rollout and BICMA was interested in demonstrating to government what impacts the rollout had achieved. I guess the most effective in terms of persuading politicians would a new study that specifically looks at the results in Bhutan. But given the nature of this Himalayan country, around 800,000 people distributed across a series of valleys that are separated by mountain ranges, this would be a costly exercise.
Dr Bitange Ndomo is perhaps one of the most prominent voices on African ICT policy. Suffice to say he has 102,000 Twitter followers. In his latest column, read by many more than who get the hardcopy version in Nairobi, he says thus: For example, a systematic review conducted by Rohan Samarajiva, Christoph Stork, and Nilusha Kapugama in Asia sought to isolate the economic impact of mobile phones in rural areas by looking at the most robust quantitative studies available. The systematic review assessed the impacts of the following: increased coverage or availability of mobile signals, use of mobile phones or Subscriber Interface Modules (SIMs), and use of mobile-based services and/or applications. PULL OVER PUSH From the study, they came up with three key findings including: 1.
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