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Decolonising Energy Policy Research

Ramit Debnath



Post-Doctorate Architecture


Climate, Technology

Energy research seeking to influence policy in low- and -middle-income countries (LMICs) is often funded by – and conceptualised by authors in - institutions from high-income countries (HICs). Research agendas and policy recommendations determined in HICs potentially yield the most influence on policymaking for LMICs. This leaves a multidimensional gap in how LMICs frame, contextualise, evidence and enact policy processes. The unique contribution of this paper is analysing the dynamics of prevalent energy research on LMICs through a multi-method approach using bibliometric, network science and regression-based techniques. An innovative data-driven framework was established using a sample of 6,636 papers from the Web of Science database, combined with journal impact data from Scimago Journal Ranking and country economic data from the World Bank. Results show the existence of a cycle of imbalances across research practices. Most papers recommending energy policy for LMICs have a first author based in a HIC, funded by a HIC institution. Total citations of articles on energy policy in LMICs increase with the GDP of the first author’s country (a 1% increase in GDP is correlated with a 0.68% increase in total citations). Funders support authors based in countries of the same income band as them, or higher. Therefore, we recommend revising research practices and HIC funding policies to place local actors and knowledge at the heart of energy policy research, enabling high-impact policymaking in LMICs.