What evidence is best to support decisions on information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives? How can we ensure that the evidence comprises the most robust and least biased research?
Systematic Reviews (SRs), a method of synthesizing research in a manner that minimizes bias is one answer. The method, first developed in healthcare, ensures comprehensive coverage of published research as well as grey literature, makes systematic use of filters, and is replicable. Greater reliance is being placed on data and evidence in policy. But, questions of the robustness of the evidence and actions taken to remove bias are also rising in salience. Guest-edited by Rohan Samarajiva, this Special Section on Systematic Reviews contributes to that discussion.
The introduction provides an assessment of the efficacy of SRs in taking research to policy and to the media. The articles, dealing with ICT applications ranging from the rollout of mobile networks to rural areas, through the introduction of mobile financial services and ICT application of relevance to micro-, small- and medium enterprises in urban areas, to ICT use in classrooms, provide a multifaceted view of the potential and limitations of the method.
Strong evidence of the positive development impacts of network rollout and mobile financial services, among others, is found. SRs fail to establish the positive impact of some other interventions, partly because of limitations of base studies and the very nature of the phenomena being studied, in addition to the limits of the SR method itself. The lead authors are affiliated with LIRNEasia, a regional think tank which has been engaged in the conduct of, and the provision of training on, SRs since 2012. Each is an expert in the respective topics and are affiliated with research organizations and universities in India, the Philippines, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.
We invite you to read these articles that published in Information Technologies & International Development on July 26, 2018. Please Ctrl+Click on the article titles below for direct linking to the papers of interest.
Christoph Stork, Nilusha Kapugama, Rohan Samarajiva
The Impact of Mobile Financial Services in Low- and Lower Middle-Income countries: A Systematic Review
Erwin Alampay, Goodiel Moshi
Tiny Impact of ICTs and Paucity of Rigorous Causal Studies: A Systematic Review of Urban MSMEs in the Developing World
P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan, Albert Otieno
Sujata N. Gamage, Tushar Tanwar
Francois Bar & Kentaro Toyama
Arlene LuckManaging Editor