This report presents a summative and formative evaluation of the quality
of openness outcomes of projects in IRDC’s Information and Networks (IN)
programme. “Quality of openness” can be interpreted in 2
ways: as the qualities of openness within openness initiatives, and as
the quality of the outcomes from those initiatives.
The analysis shows that IN-supported projects have produced ample evidence on best
practices in openness initiatives, including careful consideration of
what counts as ‘open,’ and the conditions under which openness can be
attained. Open resources are defined as those which are accessible,
digital, affordable, locatable, timely, sharable, and appropriately
licensed. In addition, they should be in a format that allows for their
reuse and modification. This finding in turn indicates the type of
policy, institutional and technical environments necessary to support
the realization of openness initiatives.
The formative evaluation considers whether and how IN research can
demonstrate the relationship between openness and social change in
developing contexts. Specifically, a common understanding was sought of
what is meant by “quality of openness” or “quality openness” by both the
IN team and its research partners, and to identify project outcomes
consistent with ‘improved quality of openness.’ This work responds to a
preoccupation of the IN unit, seeking to produce evidence about the
impacts of openness that stands apart from the pressures of implementing
and/or promoting a particular program. This is essential in
demonstrating the benefits of openness to policymakers, instructing them
on how best to structure legal frameworks, policies and supporting
environments in ways that facilitate the positive effects, and curtail
the negative impacts, of open initiatives.
Reilly, K.M.A.; McMahon, R. Quality of Openness: Evaluating the Contributions of IDRC’s Information and Networks Program to Open Development. IDRC, Ottawa, Canada (2015) 97 pp.