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U4's publication types and quality assurance process

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U4's publication types and quality assurance process

Explaining the different U4 publications and the quality control and peer review processes we apply.
27 October 2021

Evidence and academic rigour is a pre-requisite for all outputs in the U4 publication series. We practice an extensive quality control and external peer review process. Resource texts and comments that we publish on the U4 website, online training platform, blogs, etc. go through internal quality review.

See also:

U4 publications and other written outputs

We write publications to inform development practitioners and policymakers. The information has to be relevant for development programming, and the aim of reducing the harmful impact of corruption.

Core audience

Publications have to be relevant for practitioners and policymakers at some or all these levels:

  • implementation level
  • intermediary level (formulating, advising, funding development activities)
  • higher policy-formulation levels

High quality, evidence-based publications appeal to researchers, activists, teachers, students and others, in addition to practitioners and policymakers. However, we always test ourselves to make a clear case with regard to our core purpose and audience.

Principles for all publications

  • We follow U4’s quality assurance process.
  • Research and evidence is robust and high quality.
  • We present evidence gaps and their implications for donors. Analyses, perspectives, and policy options are independent from specific advocacy agendas.
  • The connection to anti-corruption efforts and development is clear.
  • The connection to development agencies’ practical needs, activities, or interests is strong.
  • Implications, recommendations and policy options are concrete and practical.
  • We apply U4’s publication policy and style guide to create accessible formats for time-pressed professionals.

U4 Brief

Briefs present information on a particular development activity, engagement, or policy issue. It can present specific facets of larger studies. The goal is to reach people who look for quick overviews of findings to inform policies and processes. We apply a set of general publication principles for U4 Briefs, including a rigorous quality assurance process. Optimal length 1,500 – 3,000 words including references.

U4 Issue

Issues offer in-depth thematic analyses or research findings. We apply a set of general publication principles for U4 Issues, including a rigorous quality assurance process. Optimal length 5,000 – 10,000 words including references.

U4 Report

Reports present extensive findings from multiple case studies or other lengthy research findings. We apply a set of general publication principles for U4 Reports, including a rigorous quality assurance process. Typical length: 5,000 – 15,000 words including references.

U4 Practice Insight

Practice Insights document specific interventions in the form of case studies that draw on project documentation and experiences from people involved. We apply a set of general publication principles for U4 Practice Insights, including a rigorous quality assurance process.
Typical length: 3,000 – 10,000 words

U4 Practitioner Experience Note

Practitioner experience notes (PEN) extract exclusive experiences from reform management, policy considerations and technical implementations through interviews with, – or notes written by – people with deep involvement in such processes. PENs complement other U4 publications by nuancing specific anti-corruption work that may not be possible to capture in research that requires triangulation. PENs aim to increase understanding, but do not provide generalised conclusions applicable across contexts. They are exempt from the U4 publication quality assurance requirement of external peer review. Typical length 1,500 – 3,000 words.

Other written outputs

U4 Helpdesk Answers

The U4 anti-corruption helpdesk is a free research service exclusively for staff from U4 partner agencies. This service is a collaboration between U4 and Transparency International (TI) in Berlin, Germany. Researchers at TI run the helpdesk. Helpdesk Answers adhere to a separate policy and quality control procedure. The answers are based on desk research of publicly-available information, with a short turn-around time.

Blog posts

Several of the publication principles also apply to U4 blog posts, in particular the requirements of internal peer review, and adherence to U4 style.

Other outputs

U4 may publish and/or promote, books, journal articles, op-eds, etc. by U4 staff and affiliate experts. In such cases the principles of independence, relevance, and robust peer review requirements also apply.


    All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

    This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)