Published on Let's Talk Development

Trial and adopt, reproducibility, and cutting-edge research: Robert S. McNamara Fellowship experiences

This page in:
Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program. | © World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program. | © World Bank

This blog highlight the experiences of four fellows from last year’s World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program. The Fellowships Program matches aspiring development economics researchers from developing countries with World Bank research economists, creating opportunities for the fellows to take part in rigorous, policy-focused research in the World Bank’s research hub in the Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC).

The World Bank hosts fellows in Washington, D.C., from September to June each year, offering them an opportunity to work under the supervision of seasoned researchers in the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) and Development Research Group departments.

By working with World Bank DEC researchers and their external academic collaborators from top universities, fellows learn current research standards, acquire new econometric skills and network with leading researchers in their field. They participate in rigorous research tackling critical challenges in the developing world as well as a comprehensive training program to build technical skills and familiarize themselves with the tools required to succeed in development research.

Muhsine Senart

Muhsine Senart My master's degree in hand and driven by a strong motivation to “end poverty and promote shared prosperity”, I joined DIME last September as a McNamara fellow. I was motivated by the desire to contribute to researching complex questions related to unequal opportunities, gender disparities, education, and job opportunities across countries. These past few months have been an exceptional start to my career in development economics. One of the most enriching aspects of my fellowship was exposure to the early stages of various projects, which has significantly deepened my understanding of the junction of research, technical assistance, and impact in development economics. For researchers to think about the details of implementation in “trial and adopt” endeavors is key. The specifics of the execution of a policy or project come to enrich the insights for design of research. For policy makers, actively engaging with researchers at early stages of design and implementation can provide them with a compass in their actions. The real-time feedbacks can allow to redefine actions and improve impact. Furthermore, such documentation can allow to scale actions and by extension, contribute to the larger goals of development.

David Concepcion Quiroz Barrios

David Concepcion Quiroz Barrios For individuals who have not yet embarked on a doctoral program but possess a strong desire to explore and answer questions, the fellowship program offers a valuable opportunity to define their research preferences and sharpen the intuition required to begin a journey on economics research. For those currently enrolled in a doctoral program, the fellowship serves as a platform to strengthen their research agenda. Meanwhile, for those who are not specifically interested in pursuing a Ph.D. but still aspire to contribute to research and policy, the Robert McNamara Fellowship is an opportunity to gain insights into managing the research workflow and interact with government agencies, local communities, academia, and policy makers. By participating in high-quality research teams, fellows are provided with a pathway to shape their professional pursuits to make meaningful contributions to the science and policy formulation. The research ethos at institutions like the World Bank inspires fellows to pursue a pathway where research goes beyond filling knowledge gaps and actively impacts the living conditions of peoples around the world.

Nour Elashmawy

Nour ElashmawyDuring the first month of the fellowship, I got the opportunity to attend a DIME Analytics training course on Reproducible Research Fundamentals, where I was introduced to the importance of reproducibility and replicability. I learned how reproducibility matters for ensuring the credibility of research papers, building on the available knowledge, and using it to advance our understanding of the different research questions in development economics. It is worth mentioning that in this context, the term “reproducibility” refers to the ability to produce the same results as the research team by using the same dataset and code provided by them in their reproducibility packages. As part of one of the projects I worked on during my fellowship, I reproduced 18 papers published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the American Economic Review, and the Journal of Development Economics. I re-ran regressions with around 750 outcomes and wrangled with issues such as differing coding styles and trade-offs between coding efficiency (coding tasks are performed as simply as possible) and code readability (how easy it is for someone to understand the code).

Maria Del Mar Gomez Ortiz

Maria Del Mar Gomez OrtizEconomic activity exhibits significant disparities across spatial areas, even within the same city. These differences encompass a wide range of characteristics, including job and educational opportunities, crime rates, salary levels, and price variations. Understanding the underlying factors behind this uneven distribution of economic activity is crucial for governments to effectively allocate public resources and devise efficient policies that cater to the needs of their citizens. Quantitative General Equilibrium (QGE) models serve as valuable theoretical frameworks for investigating the interactions and consequences of economic activities within specific geographic regions. During my fellowship, I had the opportunity to participate in a project aimed at providing comprehensive training on QGE models to policy makers and local agents. The main objective was to emphasize the value of QGE models and enhance understanding and familiarity with these theoretical tools. As part of the project, we also developed an open-source package in R, which enables straightforward estimation of these models with minimal data requirements.


Original fellow blog submissions have been edited for publication. The full versions of their reflections are available here. Applications for the next cohort of Fellows will open in February 2024 and application details will be available at the Fellowship website.


Maria Jones

Survey Specialist, Development Research Group (DIME), World Bank

Emma Frankham

Consultant at the World Bank Group

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000