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Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC)

RTAC serves as a strategic resource to the United States Agency for International Development, leveraging academic researchers’ scientific expertise to provide research, specialized training, and short-term technical assistance.

USAID Global Development Lab

The Challenge

The data and evidence that policymakers and communities need to develop effective public policy are often not accessible or presented in usable formats. Through RTAC, PRB supports research uptake by helping researchers communicate their work more effectively to diverse audiences and assisting in development of research-to-action plans.

Our Approach

Led by NORC at the University of Chicago and in collaboration with its partners, RTAC aims to accelerate the impact of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) development investments in a variety of sectors by:

  • Connecting USAID to a diverse, global network of academic researchers to promote new partnerships. RTAC is a growing network of university researchers comprised of 254 graduate and post-doctoral students, lecturers, and faculty affiliated with 128 organizations around the world. Researchers affiliated with academic institutions that are accepted into the RTAC network are eligible to apply for exclusive, short-term research assignments funded by USAID.
  • Supporting USAID’s missions, bureaus, and independent offices to make evidence-based decisions. RTAC’s researchers conduct rapid-response research on a wide range of development issues to inform the design and adaptation of programs, influence and shape policies, and guide future investments. The project’s research equips decisionmakers with actionable evidence. RTAC also convenes high-level consultations with technical experts, government officials, and other key stakeholders to establish research priorities and learning agendas.
  • Sharing newly generated research, tools, and trainings to foster collective learning and strengthen capacity. The project is developing innovative tools and resources to help maximize the policy- and program-related impacts of research. RTAC also designs and delivers specialized training for USAID staff, researchers, and implementing partners on cutting-edge development topics.

As a key project partner, PRB provides leadership on strategic communications and research utilization. We work closely with USAID-funded researchers to develop tailored research-to-action plans to help ensure that their research answers the right questions, reaches the right audiences, and informs decisionmaking.

We package and share evidence in accessible and creative ways, always keeping in mind the needs and work of policymakers, donors, and program implementers. PRB also designs and delivers interactive trainings to strengthen the capacity of USAID staff and implementing partners so that they can use and communicate research effectively to improve global programming.

 

Explore the Project

 

RTAC is a part of USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) 2.0 portfolio of programs, which is managed by the agency’s U.S. Global Development Lab.

Impact

PRB has provided technical assistance to researchers in more than 10 countries in fields ranging from medicine to biology to engineering, working with them to write and produce training manuals, policy briefs, factsheets, and presentations. Our assistance helped research teams identify a broad range of stakeholders and gather information about how these stakeholders might use the results of their research and how to best communicate with them. We have built researcher skills in engaging policymakers and, as a result, researchers have garnered support to add their off-grid cooling innovation to operational guidelines written by one government department in India. In the Philippines, another group of researchers strengthened support within their own institution for their research dissemination activities after giving a presentation they developed with PRB’s assistance.