Call for Applications – Research Excellence Consultant

Association of African Universities Admits 32 New Members
September 1, 2020
Call for host – 2021 Biennial Conference of the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA)
September 14, 2020
Association of African Universities Admits 32 New Members
September 1, 2020
Call for host – 2021 Biennial Conference of the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA)
September 14, 2020

Terms of Reference:  Consultant to Develop Training Modules and Develop, Organize and Facilitate Training Workshops Aimed at Strengthening Effective Research Excellence Assessment Capacities within Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in Africa.

About the SGCI

The Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) is a multi-donor Initiative with Phase 2 (SGCI-2: 2020-2023) supported by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF).

The overall goal of the SGCI-2 Research Management project is to fortify the capability of Science Granting Councils in explicit areas of research management, namely research excellence (particularly the knowledge and use of tools such as Research Quality Plus framework), research ethics, emerging scientific practices (especially open data, open access and citizen science), Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP)  benchmarking exercise and development of online grant management systems (including databases of peer reviewers).

The Association of African Universities (AAU) and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) are the consortium partners for the SGCI-2 Research Management project. Both AAU and AAS are two continental higher education bodies with experience in research management, and the AAU has participated in the SGCI-1 as part of the “Theme 3” Consortium. The SGCI-1 provided the AAU with invaluable experiences and lessons of working with and being part of activities taking place at the level of national science systems.

Assessing research excellence has been identified as one of the new critical work packages for SGCI-2, with cross-cutting dimension. It is well recognized that research excellence is integral and fundamental to the mandate of SGCs all over the world. In order to better appreciate and accurately measure the impact of their activities in funding and supporting national science and innovation systems, SGCs need to be conversant with but more importantly, have a clear understanding and capacity to evaluate and effectively deal with an evolving range of issues beyond those captured in traditional impact metrics.

Assessing Research Excellence by SGCs

Research excellence is integral to the mandate of SGCs all over the world. It is required at all stages of science — from planning and design, production to sharing, use and evaluation, and at each level there are new tools available to measure, promote and safeguard research excellence. These include research ethics, open and collaborative science, open access and Research Quality Plus (RQ+) among others. SGCs need to be familiar with an evolving range of issues beyond those captured in traditional impact metrics. These include legitimacy (whether research is gender transformative, its inclusiveness and engagement with national and local knowledge), importance (its originality and relevance) and positioning for use (accessibility of research data and analysis, actionability and scalability). SGCs’ ability to holistically assess research excellence within the contextual realities of African research ecosystems and within the context of evolving research excellence paradigms to accurately determine SGCs’ contributions and impact within national science systems is the central theme of this project activity. This work package is therefore intended to build capacity within SGCs’ by way of increasing their knowledge, enhancing their capacity in the use of relevant tools and practice of the different dimensions of research excellence. The desired outcome is the development and strengthening of the capacity of SGCs to measure, monitor, report and use research excellence metrics to further the attainment of the mandates of SGCs within their national science systems. This capacity development workstream envisages a paradigm shift from conventional research excellence measurement models which are generally anchored on developed countries’ perceptions of research excellence, norms, nuances, tenets, and practices. These are usually rooted within state-of-the-art, well-resourced research and development ecosystems, which are significantly different from the national science systems within which SGCs on the continent operate. It is expected that this paradigm shift would enable a positive disruption of traditional assessments for research excellence on the continent to reveal the true impact of SGCs’ and Africa’s contributions to research and development through a 360-degree approach to research excellence assessment. This approach is intended to capture all facets of research excellence delving into new and evolving areas that are not typically considered in conventional research excellence assessments, approaches and tools.

From the foregoing, the main objective of this training workshop is to develop and build capacity within SGCs to conduct robust research excellence assessments using the Research Quality (RQ+) framework conceived and developed by IDRC. In broad terms, the successful consultant is required to build on relevant and available reports from SGI-1, further engage with SGCs and build a refined profile of individual SGCs’ capacity needs in research excellence assessment, develop a comprehensive training content that mainly combines theoretical concepts and practical implementation, research excellence assessment tools but with main focus on of the RQ+. Other interrelated areas to consider are monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) outcomes, and a risk assessment and management framework  to ensure that by the end of the training, SGCs are able to follow systematic processes in the design and implementation of research excellence assessment projects as part of their core operational mandates and activities. It is further expected that the successful consultant will develop a repository of research excellence resources and materials, provide full access to SGCs and ensure ongoing/post-training professional support or backstopping to SGCs to ensure overall successful knowledge transfer. The key outcomes of these activities will be strengthening and use of the RQ+ framework by each of the SGCs; improved processes of evaluating research excellence by the SGCs and strengthened national science systems in the participating countries.

The specific TORs for this task are outlined below:

  1. Conduct specific needs assessments for capacity development for research excellence assessment for participating SGCs. This should include a survey of the SGCs, and a review of relevant reports on research excellence from SGCI-1 and other sources or resources to identify barriers, key gaps and enablers to research excellence assessment, including practices and protocols within individual SGCs. Any other approach deemed necessary by the consultant, bearing in mind time constraints and the general climate imposed on global business operations by the COVID-19 pandemic should be considered.
  2. Develop training modules and implement/facilitate training and technical support on research excellence assessment, majorly focusing on the use of RQ+ as the preferred tool, and other relevant scientific practices to enable SGCs assess their portfolio of research projects and related activities.
  3. Provide post-training technical support to the SGCs on research excellence assessment to ensure the development of a new culture in the assessment and reporting of research excellence assessments.
  4. Develop training plans, and training evaluations/feedback, while training materials will be shared online.
  5. Ensure at least two SGCs successfully assess their research activities using the RQ+ framework over the project duration and communicate their outcomes with key stakeholders.
  6. Develop a repository of research excellence assessment resources and materials and provide full access to participating SGCs and ensure ongoing professional support or backstopping to ensure successful knowledge transfer. This should include webinar recordings and WhatsApp messages and other platforms that will be synthesized for dissemination.
  7. Develop a risk assessment framework and a monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) framework for this project.

Indicators to Evaluate Consultant’s Performance

  1. The quality and timely delivery of all required tasks as provided for in this term of reference to ensure the successful implementation of this work package.
  2. The submission of monthly progress report summarising the services provided and progress made.
  3. The submission of post-training evaluation report including an evaluation of the use of online resources by SGCs.
  4. The submission of participating SGCs’ research excellence assessment reports using the RQ+ framework.

Desired Competences and Qualifications of Consultant/Service Provider

It is envisaged that the successful consultant would be a subject specialist in research excellence assessments with demonstrable experience in conducting research excellence assessments and trainings. More importantly, the successful consultant should have strong working knowledge and experience in the use of RQ+ in conducting research excellence assessments.

  1. At least 5 years relevant and professional experience including extensive knowledge of research excellence assessments.
  2. Knowledge of research management systems as well as national science systems.
  3. Proven research excellence assessment skills and theoretical and practical knowledge of the use RQ+ and other comparable tools.
  4. Proven and extensive experience in the development of training curricula and materials.
  5. Multidisciplinary skills and the ability to communicate effectively.
  6. Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  7. Sensitivity to national, political, gender and cultural balance.
  8. A high standard of professionalism.
  9. Technical skills or access thereof to create, evaluate and distribute online content.
  10. Fluency in English (written and spoken) with excellent drafting and communication skills. Ability to communicate in French or Portuguese will be highly desirable.

Submission of Proposals

The AAU and the AAS invite suitably qualified consultants or service providers with advanced technical knowledge and experience in research excellence assessments in general and specifically, practical knowledge of the use of the RQ+ framework in conducting research excellence assessment to submit proposals for this exercise.

How to submit Proposal

Interested Consultants/Specialist/Service providers are requested to submit a detailed application outlining their qualifications and suitability for this task, including proposed solution, budgets and detailed workplan and timeline for completion of this task. Applications should be submitted online via the link:


The deadline for submission of the proposals is close of business on Friday, 30th October 2020.

Contact Information

If you have any queries concerning this opportunity, please contact the Association of African Universities Director of ICT Services & Knowledge Management, Ms Nodumo DHLAMINI, Email: with a copy to  and to the Deputy Director of Programmes at African Academy of Sciences, Dr Alphonsus Neba, Email: