The Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) conceptualised the Strengthening ICTD Research Capacity in Asia (SIRCA) programme to improve the social science research skills of emerging Asian scholars in the information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) space. Given the perceived lack of rigour, scholarly representation from the Global South. and the need for inter-disciplinary research, the programme objectives intended to enhance research capacity amongst emerging scholars in Asia by supporting research that was scientific, replicable, generalisable, collaborative, and actionable (i.e. applied research).
Initiated in August 2008, the objectives of SIRCA (see Figure 3.1) were to: (1) Promote high-quality inter-disciplinary social science research in Internet development, e-services, new media use and social impact, and policy for the benefit and advancement of individuals, organisations, nation and society; (2) Support networks and linkages among researchers through a mentorship programme, as well as workshops and conferences to share knowledge and conduct training activities; and (3) Disseminate the research findings through such venues as academic journals, conferences and other relevant online and print media outlets. The programme was conceived by SiRC, based at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, and supported by the IDRC. SiRC was deemed a suitable location to incubate the SIRCA programme in, with its experience in conducting broad-based high-quality inter-disciplinary research related to new media and related technologies across Asia, and because of its wide-reaching networks for research collaboration, analysis, and technological development, with industrial, research and educational organisations in Singapore and overseas.
NEW APPROACHES TO CAPACITY BUILDING
SIRCA, a pioneer programme, was built on a three-pronged capacity building approach of providing financial support in terms of research grants, providing relevant research training workshops and exercises, and engaging grant recipients through a one-on-one mentoring arrangement.