Quality of Openness: Evaluating the Contributions of IDRC’s Information and Networks Program to Open Development
International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is a Canadian corporation that invests in knowledge and innovation
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.