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Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP)

RRPP Programe Information

The RRPP is aimed at fostering and promoting social science research in Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia). Social Science research aids in the understanding of the specific needs for reform and in identifying the long – term implications of potential policy choices. Researchers receive support through research grants, methodological and thematic trainings as well as opportunities for regional and international exchange and networking. The RRPP is coordinated and operated by the Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (IICEE) at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). The Programme is fully funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
(for more information on the programe click here )

Contacts

The Local Coordination Unit of RRPP in Albania is the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM):
Coordinator Erisa Lame – erisa.lame@rrpp-westernbalkans.net
Senior Advisor Elona Dhëmbo – edhembo@idmalbania.org

National Policy Dialogue

National Policy Dialogues are aimed at influencing necessary systemic changes in social science research, while involving a number of relevant stakeholders such as responsible ministries, rectors, deans, researchers from different disciplines and of different age.
The overall objective of the National Policy Dialogue in Albania is to unleash the research and innovation capacities of the country and influence necessary systemic changes in the social science research in Albania, so that the country has a better performing profile in international cooperation and knowledge production in the area. The overall objective will be achieved through the activities of three main forums:
Forum 1 – aims to contribute to the improvement of an enabling fundamental social sciences research environment in Albania and encouraging the internationalization of Albanian social sciences research.
Forum 2 – aims to awake private sector interest and encourage its investments in social science research by initiating and developing channels of communication between private sector and science/academia in the country.
Forum 3 – aims to initiate and manage dialogue between stakeholders/actors in promoting scientific research (ie. evaluation research ) to produce and feed evidence-based policy-making processes in the country.

Activities of the National Policy Dialogue will be carried for a period of 2014-2016.

RRPP Young Researches Club

The Young Researchers Club (YRC) has been launched within the framework of the RRPP National Dialogue and its special focus on young researchers in Albania. This club aims to serve as a forum where young researchers are going to have the opportunity to engage with policy-makers in an informal setting. YRC will meet every 6 weeks, (during afternoon/evenings) in informal places (such as libraries, social enterprises’ venues, social cafés, etc.) and discuss upon topics of interest to the researchers. Moreover, it aims to establish channels of communication on the “demand and supply” between young researchers specialized in social sciences and public institutions.
The club has a permanent coordinator, who is engaged in the organization of the meetings, besides being its rapporteur. Meanwhile, each meeting will have invited guest speakers from government institutions, universities’ governing bodies as well as distinguished public figures. On a rotational basis, each meeting will be moderated by one or two members of the club. This peculiar format aims to let the participants engage more actively in a specific subject matter, besides the standard debates with the invitees.

At the core of the overall initiative stand issues of excellence in social research including contemporary issues of social research methods, discussions on individual (i.e. PhD projects) or group projects being designed, implemented or in the process of writing and publishing, internationalization of Albanian research, partnerships and collaborations in the region and beyond, etc.

Activities

Given the ubiquitous missing link between research and teaching activities at the institutions of higher education in the Western Balkans, the training aimed to encourage the participants to identify ways of thinking and practicing in their disciplines (Hounsell and Anderson, 2005) and associated disciplinary signature pedagogies (Shulman, 2005) and to use these as a starting point for thinking about how to design, teach and foster student learning in their respective disciplines.

The training was run by Dr. Elizabeth Cleaver, Director of Learning Enhancement and Academic Practice at the University of Hull and Dr. Claire Gordon, Educational Developer at the Teaching and Learning Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Participants were scholars working and coming from the Western Balkans who are involved in the design and delivery of university courses and programmes.

Course outline: During the first half day participants were introduced to educational research debates about the critical place of research-led teaching in higher education institutions and asked to think about the relationship between research and teaching through an exploration of the epistemologies of their respective disciplines. After this conceptual start the workshop turned to an exploration of different dimensions of and approaches to research-led teaching. Drawing on the principles of the pedagogy of constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996 and 2002) and the carpe diem teaching design model participants engaged in a range of activities and discussion as part of the process of designing their own course including a range of research-led teaching and learning activities.

The Young Researchers Club (YRC) was officially launched on 9 October 2014, in Tirana, Albania. This club is conceptualized in the form of an interactive forum, where the participants will have the opportunity to interact with peers, policy-makers and other relevant actors and stakeholders with regard to social science research advancement in the country.

Considering the young tradition of the social sciences research in Albania and the necessity to establish and develop a sustainable network between the field researchers, the YRC is perceived as an essential tool for sharing knowledge and experience.

This first event aimed at starting off this informal method of communication among young researchers in the field of social sciences in Albania as well as a bridging tool between the scientific research and the business world:

  • Analysis of current state and challenges of scientific research in social sciences at the national level;
  • Need to redefine the present debate on researcher’s identity;
  • Concept of ‘research as a process;
  • Existing hierarchical structure in the research field and relevance of the mobility and interdisciplinary factors.

The event saw the participation of 24 young researchers, selected from almost 50 applications received so far. The guest speaker was Dr. Odeta Barbullushi (Vice-Rector for Research and Methodology at the European University of Tirana). Moreover, Dr. Teuta Dobi and Dr. Esmeralda Shehaj attended the event on behalf of the Albanian RRPP Board.

The main discussion topic of this second meeting of the Young Researchers Club was “Ethics in Social Sciences Research”, which is considered to be a topic of outmost importance for the researchers’ community. Due to the lack of a Code of Ethics in social science research in Albania, the research community is constantly faced with peers’ unprofessional behaviour, which, in turn, calls for an immediate and urgent solution. The meeting was attended by 19 club members and moderated by Endrit Shabani from YRC and Elona Dhëmbo, RRPP Senior Advisor, whilst the guest speaker was Prof. Fatos Tarifa, member of the Albanian Academy of Arts and Sciences and professor at the University of New York Tirana.

The discussions focused on the following sensitive issues:

  • Dominance of plagiarism and insufficient respect for author’s rights;
  • Lack of respect for the principle of responsibility and confidentiality;
  • Continuous risk of social and psychological damage to the involved in the research process – such as neglecting potential risks which derive from the specific research related activities, such as interviewing children on sensitive topics without permission of the parents;
  • ‘Contamination’ of the research environment – mainly through reproduction of false evidence, misinterpretation of the data, manifested insensitivity towards marginalized groups.

In conclusion, all the YRC members agreed that the principle of “Primum non nocere” is of primary importance and the purpose of any study can never be a justification for the violation of any ethical standards.

For the above-mentioned reasons, YRC, as a sui generis group of interest aiming at introducing feasible and sustainable standards, has advanced the following recommendations:

  • The Ministry of Education and Sport should require from all universities in Albania the adoption of a Code of Ethics in social science research as well as the establishment of a Board of Ethics (at university level) in charge of implementing, monitoring and sanctioning the violations of the respective norms. YRC members expressed their availability in getting involved in the process of domestic adaptation of a national Code of Ethics for social science research in Albania, based on international best practices.
  • The Ministry of Education and Sport jointly with the Ministry for Innovation and Public Administration should support the design of a plagiarism detecting software (in Albanian) along with continuous enrichment of the database with latest scientific papers, studies, dissertations.

22 December 2014

In the next two years, 2014-2016, Switzerland will invest around 300.000 CHF into Albanian social science projects, focusing on supporting young researchers and the internationalization of their work. 22 Albanian researchers and 5 research institutions will be part of 8 regional research projects, which in the long run aim to foster social, economic and institutional reforms in the region. Over the last years, the RRPP has supported around 50 research projects in the Western Balkans worth 3.7 million CHF. Since the start in 2008, Albanian institutions and researchers have participated in 20 projects absorbing around 740.000 CHF. As a result of the last Call in 2013, 21 regional research projects will be implemented until 2016 within three main thematic areas: 1) Governance and Decentralisation; 2) Migration; and 3) Social Disparities and Welfare State with a particular focus on the social and economic challenges in the post-conflict region.

Aside from Albanian individual researchers and independent research teams, the successful Albanian research institutions to implement the selected projects are: Development Solutions Associates; Albanian Media Institute; Albanian Center for Socio -Economic Research; Partners Albania and Institute for Contemporary Studies.

Drawing on the transition processes that are still taking place in Albania and in the entire Western Balkans, the main research topics to be explored during the next 2 years are as follows:

Experience of Industrial Citizenship of Labour migrants coming from the Western Balkans to the European Union;- Intensity, organization and causes of clientelism in post-1999 Kosovo and post-1997 Albania; – Communication practices in the context of social uprisings and requests for public accountability; – Role of media in shaping the communication process in Serbian-Albanian Relations; – Magnitude and causes of health workforce migration from Western Balkans;- Analysis of how remittances sent to Macedonia, Albania and Serbia serve as an informal social protection for household members and suggest policies for transforming them into a formal social protection;- Perceived challenges and opportunities for employment of marginalized groups by social enterprises in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo;- Work related inequality in creative industries and labour markets in Macedonia and Albania. The current round of RRPP research projects will be supported the Policy Bridging Initiative to maximize the production of policy-relevant outputs, as well as to facilitate effective linking of the relevant research outcome to the policy making process. In order to ensure the scientific quality of the selected research projets, Academic Mentoring is provided by renowned research institutes outside of Western Balkans. More information about the RRPP and selected projects can be found at the web page: www.rrpp-westernbalkans.net or by sending an email to albania@rrpp-westernbalkans.net The RRPP is coordinated and operated by the Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (IICEE) at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). The Local Coordination Unit in Albania is the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM). The programme is fully funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

RRPP Young Researchers Club Albania met again on 5 February 2015 at EU Info Centre, in Tirana, Albania.
The third meeting of the Young Researchers Club (YRC)focused on the “Higher Education Reform and Research Policy”. At the moment, this topic is considered to be highly pertinent in Albania as the draft law on higher education reform is currently being consulted with relevant stakeholders and soon it will pass for discussion in the Parliament.

The meeting was attended by 15 club members and moderated by Sidita Dibra from the YRC and Elona Dhëmbo, RRPP Senior Advisor.The guest speakers were Mr. Arbjan Mazniku, Deputy Minister of Education and Sport, and Prof. Ervin Demo, Deputy Rector for Academic Orientation and International Relations, at the University of Tirana. They provided an overview of changes that the reform aims to introduce in the field of scientific research policy.

The discussions concentrated on the following questions, highly relevant for the YRC members:

  • To what extent will the assignment of greater autonomy to universities contribute to the enhancement of scientific research?
  • How should the higher education institutions’ structures evolve in order to ensure competitiveness for public and private research funding?
  • Will there be a redefinition of the roles of the academic staff and PhD candidates within a single department?
  • Do state universities have at their disposal human and technical capacities to compete at national and international level?

The researchers’ community argued that faced with the nascent state of the Albanian higher education structures, the reform would create several stakes for public universities regarding the qualitative research products and fundraising, due to the lack of human resources and technical infrastructure. At the same time, the private universities were seen as privileged by the draft law on higher education, as they had already established the required capacities and could conduct research activities. Hence, in their point of view, in order to ensure fair competition between public and private universities during the public funds granting process, the responsible state authorities should foresee specific transitional periods, which, in turn,would allow public higher education institutions to adapt to this new reality.

The fourth meeting of the Young Researchers Club (YRC) focused on the “Alternative Support to Scientific Research in Albania”. This meeting had an informative nature and, under the moderation of Elona Dhëmbo, RRPP Senior Advisor, the guest speakers presented to the audience an overview of some research funding opportunities from various countries.

Ms. Sidita Dibra shared her research experience in a project financed by European Training Foundation on the establishment of a regional database on Vocational Education Training. This database was made available to YRC members with the purpose of conducting further comparative or single case analysis, which in turn would serve to the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth as guiding instruments in the drafting process of the national strategy on vocational education.

Whereas, Ms. Rajna Spaho, representative of the Agency for Research, Technology and Innovation, focused on priorities of Horizon 2020, process of application and Albania’s participation in the 7th Framework Programme (2007-2014). In this regard, the participants noticed that, due to the lack of human capacities and procedural challenges, the country performance has been rather low. Moreover, the National Contact Points should play a more proactive role in the promotion of Horizon 2020 funding opportunities.

Finally, Mr. Martin Dietz, team leader at Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, presented the PERFORM programme and its funding opportunities for the Albanian social science researchers. In turn, the YRC members made some suggestions to Mr. Dietz on the key research related challenges, such as plagiarism control, digitalization of research, establishment of a national database, etc, that need to be addressed in the short run.

The Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans (RRPP), supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and coordinated at the national level by IDM, supports since February 2014 the initiative on the “National Policy Dialogue in Albania”. This initiative aims at influencing the establishment of a suitable environment, that brings closer and in constant interaction researchers and policy-makers. For this purpose, three forums are actively engaged along three main areas: 1) Excellence in social science research; 2) Social science research public-private dialogue; and 3) Evidence-based policy-making.

With the purpose of sharing the study findings and enhancing a broad and constructive debate on the relevance of evidence-based policy-making, on 27 March 2015, was organized at the premises of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, a round table entitled: “Use of scientific evidence in designing social protection policies in Albania”. The participants were representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, Ministry of Education and Sport, Ministry of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Resources, NGOs operating in the field of social protection, researchers and field experts. Read more on this activity: Evidence based Policymaking Roundtable_report.

Download Policy Document No.1:

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Round Table on “Developing Human Resources and Capacities in Support of Excellence in Social Science Research” was held on 17 April 2015 at Ministry of Education and Sport in Tirana

The main obstacles to scientific research, such as methodological capacities and institutional support, are closely related to the legal framework of higher education, currently undergoing a comprehensive policy reform.

One of the strategic objectives of the national policy reform on higher education is to strengthen human capacities of scientific research; however, the analysis provides a number of obstacles with regards to the way the reform is addressing the challenges of research, such as the absence of dedicated budget for research and the identified problems with human resources.

With the purpose of sharing the study findings and enhancing a broad and constructive debate in view of the national policy reform on higher education, on 17th of April 2015, a round table on Developing Human Resources and Capacities in support of Excellence in Social Science Research was organized at the premises of the Ministry of Education and Sport. The participants were high level representatives of the Ministry of Education and Sport, the Agency of Research, Technology and Innovation, University of Tirana, Academy of Sciences, European University of Tirana, Canadian Institute of Technology, University of New York Tirana, Epoka University, young researchers etc.

The analysis clearly identified universities’ inadequacy to meet the national objectives for increasing the quality of and enhancing scientific research, particularly in the area of involving Albanian researchers in regional and European research initiatives. There are calls for improvement of the legislation and the institutional framework and establishment of national standards on which scientific research will be based on.

Following the presentation of the analysis, the participants engaged in a fruitful discussion, by analyzing in a broader sense the situation of social science research in Albania. Some proposals on strengthening institutional capacities and development of human resources regarding fundamental research in social sciences are provided below. Download the round table report (Eng/Al).

ROUND TABLE Report  &  Alb – ROUND TABLE_Report

Download the Policy Brief (in English and Albanian):

Policy Brief Eng
Policy Brief Alb

The fifth meeting of the Young Researchers Club took place in Tirana at Tirana Times Bookstore, on 17 June 2015. Considering the strong interest of young scientists to publish their research work in scientific journals, the focus of the evening was put on “How to get published”.

The guest speaker was Prof. Denise Burnette from Columbia School of Social Work, who has directly contributed to the establishment of research and teaching capacity of social work faculty in Albania. She covered several relevant issues that can bring the young researchers towards excellent research and successful publications in high impact factor journals.

Among others, Prof. Burnette touched upon the following points:

  • Getting to own ideas
  • Ethics in scientific publications
  • How to get the paper published
  • Submission phase
  • Dealing with feedbacks

Having present the usual ‘publish or perish’ dilemma, the young researchers got actively engaged in open discussions and exchange of opinions on a variety of issues, namely: the difficulty to express one’s ideas in a foreign language; how to avoid plagiarism; and how to benefit from open access journals at an early stage of the academic career. Finally, some constructive criticism was made towards responsible higher education institutions and their communication/information systems in place on open calls for papers for journals/conferences both at the domestic and international level.

This policy paper focuses on the problem of plagiarism in the scientific work published by academic staff members in Albania.This document proposes few recommendations adapted to the main finding of this study by pointing out the need to prevent, oversee and sanction cases of plagiarism. This policy paper is prepared within the National Policy Dialogue in Albania supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). Click to download the policy paper in English and Albanian.

Returned Albanians, children and youth in particular, face the challenge of reintegration in their country of origin, as they have been away from school for several months. Thus, this paper seeks to analyze policies and practices of addressing the situation of young returned asylum seekers in Albania. This policy paper is prepared within the National Policy Dialogue in Albania supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). Click to download the policy paper in English and Albanian.

This assessment seeks to contribute to the identification of problems regarding human capacities of research in social sciences by presenting some options to strengthen these capacities, relying also on opinions of social science researchers in public and private universities of Albania. This policy paper is prepared within the National Policy Dialogue in Albania supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). Click to download the policy paper in English and Albanian.

The analysis focuses on problems of scientific research in doctoral studies in social sciences with the aim of providing recommendations in the framework of national reform on higher education and scientific research. The adopted Law on Higher Education and Scientific Research constitutes the key document of this study to help draw recommendations on the preparation of the legislation required to implement it in practice.This policy paper is prepared within the National Policy Dialogue in Albania supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). Click to download the policy paper in English and Albanian.

This study seeks to identify the needs of businesses for research and studies, manner of cooperation among businesses and universities and research units as well as to assess research capacities available in the domestic market and how the research and academic domain perceive interaction with the private sector. By adopting this approach in addressing the problem from the demand side (industry) and offer side (universities/ research units), the study will identify deficiencies inherent in their communication and interaction. This policy paper is prepared within the National Policy Dialogue in Albania supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). Click to download the policy paper in English and Albanian.

This study focuses on the features of evidence-based policymaking relationship in Albania. It examines the extent to which social protection policies are informed on evidence and the perspectives of the civil society representatives about evidence-policymaking relationship. This policy paper is prepared within the National Policy Dialogue in Albania supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). Click to download the policy paper in English and Albanian.

The purpose of this Resource Package is to introduce the concept and applications of evidence-based practice in the field of social policy. The users of the Resource Package can vary from students interested in evidence-based practice to policymakers who are planning to make evidence part of the policy-making process. This policy paper is prepared within the National Policy Dialogue in Albania supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). Click to download the policy paper in English and Albanian.