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Assignment 4,000 words

Select

one

major international development goal, such as:

Economic growth

Poverty alleviation

Food security

Healthy lives

High-quality education

Better governance

Environmental sustainability

Social inclusion

In your essay you must include:

1. Explanation of the nature and importance of the goal

2. Analysis of whether and how ICTs are helping deliver the goal in the global South, including use of a theory or framework or model to carry out an analysis of multiple evidence sources

3. Some recommendations for future ICT4D policy and/or practice arising from your analysis

To provide focus for your essay, you can – for example – look at application of the goal in a single country or region, and/or draw evidence from a single country or region, and/or analyse evidence about a single type of ICT device or system.

All citations and references have been done according to Harvard style.

1a. What should my brief explanation of the goal consist of?
You should both explain what the goal is, and also why it is important to achieve this goal.
1b. In giving the explanation of the goal, should I focus on a particular region or country?
If you have decided to focus your essay on a particular region or country, it might be
sensible to start with a brief general explanation of the goal, but then give some specific
details of the application of the goal in the particular region or country. You could even do
some analysis here of how the goal can be achieved if that will help you later in identifying
the role of ICTs.
2a. Should I include a literature review?
It may be sensible to undertake a brief review of previous evidence about the relation
between ICTs and the goal you have chosen before you look mainly at the specific evidence
from your particular region/country/application. You can do this generally, or you could
look at this through the “lens” of your chosen analytical framework.
If you do have a literature review section, then you need to recognise that both it and any
later section with analysis of evidence are essentially doing the same thing: they are
analysing evidence about whether and how ICTs can help deliver your chosen goal. So first,
there should be some connection and relation between the two – a flow of argument from
one to the other, and a recognition that your overall answer draws from both sections. And,
second, there must be a difference between the two e.g. that the literature review is more
general, and the later analysis focuses more on a specific topic or region or application type
or issue; and/or that the literature review identifies a knowledge gap or an issue which the
later section then addresses.
2b. What weighting should I give to the discussion of the goal; review/analysis;
recommendations?
There is no exact weighting that you need to follow but the analysis is by far the more
important, so something like 10:80:10 or 15:75:15 or 500:3000:500 words would be much
more appropriate than trying to give them equal weighting.
2c. Is there a minimum word limit?
There is no minimum word limit: if you think you can say everything you need in much less
than 4,000 words, there is no rule against that. However, the shorter your essay, the more
difficult it will be for you to provide full evidence and arguments. So the advice would be to try to
make full use of the word limit.
3. Should the essay focus on the past or the future?
Your analysis of evidence will look at evidence of past interventions (of course, since it is
impossible to have evidence about the future), but your recommendations at the end can
look forwards to how we should intervene differently in future.
4a. Can I use evidence such as reports from the UN, World Bank and national
governments? Or should I only use published academic evidence?
It’s fine to use those sorts of reports though hopefully that would be alongside some
evidence from journal articles, book chapters and the like.
4b. How can I tell the difference between a high-quality and a low-quality source?
It’s not exact but a literature item with a greater number of citations on Google Scholar,
would generally be of higher quality that one with a small number of citations (though you
also need to take recency of publication into account). To judge which journals are higher
or lower quality, you can put the journal title into Scimago and look at the quartile ranking
and H index number.
4c. Can I use a single organisation / project or a single information system as my evidence
source?
No. You are explicitly asked to use multiple evidence sources. If you take a case study
approach, that must mean – for example – a single country or region or type of ICT
application for which you can obtain several different sources of evidence.
4d. Should I just use case studies as my evidence?
You can use literature sources that are individual case studies. But you can also use
literature sources that are multi-case studies, comparative case studies, statistical analyses,
overview reports, evidence reviews, etc.
4e. Can I use evidence from the global North (“developed”/”industrialised” countries)?
You should not use such evidence for the core analysis of your essay since that must focus
on developing countries. You could perhaps use global North evidence as part of a general
literature review but there needs to be a good reason for using that evidence. You need to
be clear what role it plays and what argument it helps to make that is of relevance to the
assignment and course unit focus, which is the global South.
5a. What is the difference between a theory, a framework and a model?
All of these are constructions that both simplify the world around us, and help to
understand it. A theory is a complete way of understanding part of the world, and is
identified by the term “theory” in its name; such as actor-network theory. A framework is
typically derived from a body of theoretical work and shows some practical implications of
that theoretical work; such as the sustainable livelihoods framework. A model is presented
without reference to any deeper framework of knowledge or theory; such as the value chain
model.
5b. Should I use a theory or a framework or a model?
There is a risk/reward tradeoff here. If you use a deep theory, the reward is that you can
seem more academic and insightful, but the risk is that you don’t understand the theory and
use it wrongly. If you use a simple model, the reward is that it is easy to understand and
safe to apply, but the risk is that it is so simple that it does not add much value and/or does
not demonstrate much academic insight.
5c. Do we have to use an existing framework/model or can we create our own?
There is a risk/reward tradeoff here. If you create your own framework – either from
scratch, or by modifying or combining existing frameworks – that can demonstrate strong
academic ability, and gain some extra marks. That is the reward side. But, if the framework
you create is inappropriate or of poor quality, that can demonstrate weak academic ability
and lose some marks. That is the risk side.
5d. Do I need to use a theory/framework/model that was taught in the ICTs and SED
module?
No: you should choose the framework that best fits your essay topic and the arguments you
are making. It can be one we have covered in the module, or one we did not cover.
5e. Can I use econometric analysis as the basis for analysing the relation between ICT and
my chosen development goal?
No: that is not taught as part of this course unit and is not a suitable basis for analysis. You
can use other more basic forms of quantitative, statistical analysis.
5f. Do I need to justify the theory/framework/model I choose?
Yes: give at least a brief justification for why you chose this one and why it is suitable to
analyse the relation between ICTs and your chosen development goal.

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