Research Support Service

28 June 2023

We offer quality, relevant and timely research services to support busy organisations with strategic and day-to-day decision making. Imagine us as your ‘extended workbench’.

Get in touch

OTT has spent over a decade supporting and collaborating with organisations who generate, communicate, use and fund evidence. We know how hard teams work to deliver their missions, and that day-to-day priorities often leave little time for anything else. Our research support service (RSS) fills this gap.

We help teams and organisations keep abreast of sector developments and emerging evidence, to scope out investment opportunities or new markets, to bring in different perspectives, and much more.

The RSS is a model we have built over the last four years through work with the Open Society Foundations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

In each case, we have developed relationships with specific teams, been on hand at critical junctures, helped teams to develop and communicate their position on major debates, attended last minute events, acted as a secretariat for informal working groups, helped identify new partners and developed content databases.

What differentiates us

The RSS has no ego. We are happy to do the things you would rather not, or don’t have time for, so you can focus on your priorities. For example, we will happily attend and report back on a meeting for you, read and summarise publications, or facilitate a working group.

We will not lay claim to outputs produced with our support. Everything is branded as yours. And everything is designed so that it is useful to you. The RSS is discrete. We will not share the work we do with you (unless you ask us to).

We also won’t rely on the usual sources, bringing diversity of perspective into your decisionmaking. We know think tanks all over the world and constantly look for, nurture and amplify their voices through the RSS.

Setting us apart is our commitment to strengthening and championing the evidence-informed policy ecosystem. By investing in the RSS, you are also supporting our public good work, as we invest back into our On Think Tanks programme. This dual impact reflects our dedication to impactful research and the sustinability of local think tanks worldwide.

If this sounds interesting to you, read on to learn more about how it works in practice.

Understanding your needs

Our engagement with your organisation begins with an open discussion about your needs and whether we’re the right fit. Questions we will work through together include:

  • What level of support are you looking for?
  • What information do you need, who needs it and for what?
  • What formats are most useful to you?
  • Do you need us to be more responsive or proactive?
  • How should we keep you updated – monthly calls, regular email updates?
  • Will outputs be for internal use only or shared as a public good?

If we decide to work together, the first  1-3 months will be an inception phase to co-design, tailor and test the collaboration.

Tailored support

You’ll have an OTT main contact throughout our work together. The RSS team will usually include one – two researchers plus topic experts as required.

A major value add of the RSS work is that we bring local researchers’ knowledge to your organisation, and can even partner with local research organisations and think tanks to deliver bespoke research, or facilitate issue-based dialogues that help your organisation better understand the areas it is trying to study or affect change in.

This has the dual benefit of bringing in local expertise and knowledge to regional or global decision making spaces, while also supporting local think tank communities by raising their profiles and capacities.

Typical services and outputs:

  • Horizon scans in new and emerging areas of interest
  • Regular resource scans
  • Fortnightly or monthly topical roundups
  • Events / publication summary updates
  • Long reads on emerging areas of interest
  • Access to senior field experts
  • Annual survey of think tanks in a market/sector of interest
  • New investments design
  • Benchmarking exercises to draw lessons from others in your field
  • Working group or team meeting coordination
  • Ad-hoc research requests/advisory work.

We’ll decide on research sources together. This could be desk-based, or we could reach out to your partners, or other thought leaders. OTT also has an extensive network, including a global database of policy research organisations. Whatever the source, we’ll maintain an updated resource database for you to use.

What you’ll need

  • A principal contact person to liaise with the RSS team.
  • A starting idea of what knowledge you need and how much you can invest.
  • Willingness to share appropriate information about your organisation with our team.
  • A willingness to share feedback during the pilot period.
  • An openness to being supported so you can focus on your core activities while we keep you informed!

Investment level 

We offer and tailor a range of services and outputs depending on your needs.

The level on investment may vary between USD 100,000 to USD 350,000+ per year. This will depend on factors such as the frequency of the outputs, the depth of analysis required, participation of sectorial or geographical experts and the breadth of issues covered.

Examples of knowledge outputs and services we’ve provided to organisations through the RSS:

  • Horizon scans in new and emerging areas of interest
  • Regular content updates or topic guides
  • Summaries of key readings
  • Event roundups
  • Facilitated discussions with think tanks in the Global South
  • Scoping of new think tank markets and potential grantees
  • Analysis for strategy and portfolio planning and development
  • Developing new investment/ funding projects
  • Targeted monitoring, learning and synthesis work
  • Secretariat services for internal communities of practice.

Additionally, the RSS offers the opportunity to:

  • Join the OTT Funders Circle  +
  • Attend the OTT Global Conference +
  • Request a private briefing on the Think tank sate of the sector report +

Get in touch

If your team or organisation could benefit from OTT’s RSS, get in touch. We’ll schedule a call to hear more about your needs and come back to you with a short proposal. Contact:

Edris Nikjooy, Research Support Service Lead: [email protected]

Enrique Mendizabal, OTT Founder and Executive Director: [email protected]