Belarus' think tanks rating results were announced at the sixth meeting of the Belarus Research Council (BRC), a network of research institutions, held in Kaunas, Lithuania, preceding the International Congress of Belarusian Studies.
The top three includes the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), the Research Center of the Institute for Privatization and Management (IPM) and the analytical community Nashe Mnenie.
It is the first-ever Belarusian think tank rating where 12 organizations were voluntarily evaluated for their organizational and outreach capacities, as well as the quality of their analytical and research activities. The rating was initiated by Pact, with the dual aim of motivating Belarusian research centers to improve the quality of their work and increase public awareness of the nation’s research sector capacity and output.
The rating methodology applies to both major research centers and informal research initiatives. After data was collected from the participating institutions, the working group and review committee comprised of local and international experts embarked on data verification and elaboration of the final rating formula. Pact, which is the driving force behind BRC, views the rating as a capacity development tool – the purpose of the data collection is to advance the development of these think tanks through regular external assessment of their activities.
BRC was initiated by Pact in 2012 as a loose network of all the country’s research organizations, policy groups, implementers and various other stakeholders. As an extension of Pact’s support of the research sector, the aim behind the creation of the council was to improve the quality and policy relevance of evidence-based research in Belarus. In 2013, Pact’s Lithuanian partner NGO – the Eastern Europe Studies Center (EESC) – joined in developing the initiative further by providing learning opportunities for Belarusian researchers within BRC. The BRC network significantly expanded in 2015 and currently contains 243 contacts comprised of Belarusian research institutions, international donors, journalists, independent experts and NGOs.
BRC offers regular trainings by leading foreign and Belarusian experts. It supported the compilation of Belarus' online research database by the Ostrogorski Center. The searchable database currently contains more than 250 research papers in such fields as Belarus’ economy, foreign policy, civil society and public administration.
During the sixth BRC coordination meeting, a new web resource, thinktanks.by, aiming to bring research and analytical products to the wider public was launched. The site is now home to an array of BRC and think tank-related information outlets, including public policy events. It also houses the think tank rating and the online research database, while providing media service, news and learning opportunities.
The sixth coordination meeting in Kaunas, Lithuania, addressed a wide range of development issues including a regular BRC business review, organizational network analysis (ONA) for the network, a sectoral analysis of Belarusian research analytical community, presentation by opendata.by, and presentation of the final results of the think tank rating.
These coordination meetings have taken place biannually since 2012 and are the result of Pact's efforts to gather Belarusian think tanks, policy groups, implementers and donors to highlight key research developments and discuss recent and upcoming research plans.