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Research Questions

  1. What would be needed to sustain the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) well into the future?
  2. What has the QNRF achieved in its first five years?

Established in 2006 by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) awards research grants to recipients, from undergraduate to professional, in a wide range of disciplines in Qatar and abroad. In view of recent developments, most notably the passing of Decree-Law No. (24) of 2008, which promises to expand the QNRF's mandate dramatically when it is implemented, RAND was asked to investigate what might be needed to ensure the QNRF's sustainability in the decades to come. This report presents the results of that investigation. A systematic analysis of the issue indicated that the QNRF will need to (1) make measurable progress toward achieving its core mission of fostering a research culture in Qatar and (2) evolve its governance structure and related infrastructure to accommodate its new responsibilities. The report assesses how well the QNRF has done to date in its efforts and presents recommendations for future activities to continue pursuing these parallel objectives. The QNRF has made progress in evolving its infrastructure as originally envisioned, but challenges remain. The former QNRF acting director has been named the permanent director, but a governing board has not yet been established. In addition, the funding model, organizational structure, and staffing levels, which are geared toward investigator-driven research in clearly defined fields, would have to be modified to respond to the projected expansion of the QNRF's roles and responsibilities called for in the new legislation.

Key Findings

The QNRF will need to make measurable progress toward achieving its core mission of fostering a research culture in Qatar and will need to evolve its governance structure and related infrastructure to accommodate potential new responsibilities.

  • Measurement is the essential requirement for QNRF sustainability in making progress toward establishing a Qatari research culture.
  • The QNRF has made progress toward evolving its infrastructure as originally envisioned, but challenges remain.
  • The changes needed to ensure the QNRF's sustainability in light of Decree-Law No. (24) of 2008 (which has not yet been implemented), as well as the likelihood that the QNRF will ultimately have to develop and manage external funding of its research agenda, involve both the fund's original governance model and its original funding model, organizational structure, and staffing plan.

Recommendations

  • The QNRF should take further steps to encourage Qatari principal investigators to participate in the program and should help them gain experience in formulating competitive proposals.
  • The QNRF should build on the current characteristics of Qatari research culture, further developing them and putting other, new characteristics in place.
  • The QNRF should balance extrinsic and intrinsic motivations for researchers to participate in the Qatari research culture.
  • The selection criteria for members of the QNRF's board of governors should be revised, and individual board members should be of higher caliber than originally envisaged.
  • QF and the QNRF should move forward as if the 2008 legislation could become operational at any time, with all of the changes that would bring.

This research was sponsored by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development and was conducted under the auspices of the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute and the Transportation, Space, and Technology Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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