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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa

Meaning-making Research Initiative (MRI)

Meaning-making Research Initiative (MRI)

In 2017 CODESRIA introduced the MRI as its principal tool for supporting research. Like its predecessors, MRI focuses on supporting research that contributes to agendas for imagining, planning and creating African futures. The MRI replaced five tools that CODESRIA had deployed in previous years to support research: National Working Groups (NWG), Multinational Working Groups (MWG), Comparative Research Networks (CRN), Transnational Working Groups (TWG) and postdoctoral grants. Collapsing these tools into one will increase the clarity and visibility of the research supported by the Council.

The adoption of the MRI strengthened CODESRIA’s commitment to the tasks of interpretation and explanation that saw it produce ground-breaking work on thematic issues such as democratisation and economic reform in Africa. The MRI aggressively pushes scholars to grapple with the tasks of explanation and interpretation while building on the close observation of African social realities.

The Initiatives reinforce support for researchers by better integrating them into the Council’s work. Further, it offers scholars more varied ways to present their work, including through books, journal articles and policy interventions.

Selection Criteria

Projects funded under this Initiative should meet most of the following criteria:

  1. Propose research on important aspects of African social realities that fall under CODESRIA’s priority themes, as outlined in the CODESRIA Strategic Plan.
  2. Be guided by clear questions that explore puzzling aspects of the social realities of Africa and its position in the world, while reflecting an interest in questions of diversity, including gender.
  3. Be grounded in a thorough exploration of the continent’s social realities and history.
  4. Engage constructively and rigorously with African futures.
  5. Be theoretically ambitious with a clear goal of providing new and innovative ways of understanding and making sense of African social realities.
  6. Explore multiple spatial, temporal and sectoral settings where this contributes to the process of meaning-making.
  7. Demonstrate familiarity with knowledge already produced by CODESRIA on the subject researched.

Individual and Group Initiatives

MRIs could be individual initiatives or the initiatives of groups of researchers. Groups may have researchers from one country or multiple countries and should have between three and five members. Groups should take into account CODESRIA’s core principles of gender, linguistic, intergenerational, interdisciplinary diversity. All group members should have a demonstrated ability to contribute meaningfully to the work of the group.

Special call for female scholars

Increasing the participation of female scholars in the work and governance of CODESRIA has been a long-term goal of the Council. This is because of the marginal role that women have often occupied in the African academy and research landscape.

The Council has over the years made some progress in increasing the participation of female scholars in its life and work, as well as raising the consideration of gender in its work, through programmes like the Gender Institute and Gender Symposium. The Evaluation Report of the 2017–2021 Strategic Plan indicates that significant progress was achieved and encourages the Council can do more in this regard.

This special MRI call is part of a package of measures deployed to build on past advances and drastically increase the involvement of female scholars in the work and life of CODESRIA.

The call invites applications from groups only. No individual awards will be granted. All projects should:

  • be headed by female scholars
  • have women members only. Only in exceptional cases, and with proper justification, will the Council admit a group that has most female applicants with a small number of male members.

The members of a group may be from one country or multiple countries. Each group should have between three and five members and should consider CODESRIA’s core principles of linguistic, intergenerational and interdisciplinary diversity. All members of a group should have a demonstrated ability to contribute meaningfully to the work of the group.

How to apply

Effective from 2022, the call for applications for all MRIs will be advertised in the first quarter of the year. Interested applicants should submit application packages based on the instructions in the call. These should contain roughly the following required materials as Word documents. Please note, applications that lack any of these elements will be discarded.

  1. A proposal with the following clearly titled sections:
  • an introduction;
  • statement and contextualisation of research question;
  • brief review of literature and/or competing hypotheses;
  • study design and research methodology;
  • theoretical and practical significance of the study;
  • research plan;
  • budget summary.

Proposals must be submitted as Word documents and should not exceed 10 pages (font type: Times New Roman; font size: 12; line spacing: double).

  1. A completed version of the budget template attached to this call. Budgets should take into consideration the strict 16-month lifespans of these grants.
  2. An annotated plan of deliverables: One-page annotated table of contents for two scholarly articles.
  3. A cover letter listing full details – names, email and physical address and telephone number – of each member and the co-ordinator of the project.
  4. CV of each member of the project.
  5. Institutional affiliation: A letter indicating the institutional affiliation of each member.
  6. A completed version of the identification sheet attached to this call. Please leave the document as an Excel file.

The deadline for submission of applications and notification of the result of the selection process for both individual and group grants is included in the call.


To learn more about CODESRIA’s Meaning-making Research Initiatives please refer to MRI: Toward a New CODESRIA Research Vehicle and CODESRIA’s MRI: A Note  or contact the research programme here