Apart from the unique administrative, management and personnel characteristics that set it apart from other Chinese research groups, the Center pays close attention to current international academic and research standards so as to maintain its international status. The Center focuses even more attention towards resolving the difficult questions regarding development of China’s agricultural and rural sector. The Center’s research expertise is embodied in the following characteristics:
1. Teamwork and Collaboration. Starting with only a few staff, CCAP has expanded to its current size of having a research group of more than 50 members divided into four research departments. Although each research department generally has its own research goals and direction, manpower and financial resources, the Center is fundamentally an integrated research group, since research topics and use of manpower often cross departments and thus involve continual collaborative work. The Agricultural Development Policy Analysis and Decision Support System Research Department is the core that links and coordinates all work at the Center. For example, all departmental research provides important parameters and data for DSS research. At the same time, research results from the Agricultural Development Policy Analysis and DSS Research Department can provide background and support for the other research areas of the Center’s departments. In sum, CCAP believes that only by having interrelated core research areas amongst its departments combined with balanced development among these areas can it optimize the use of manpower and funding, encourage innovation amongst its individual departments and thus even greater innovation within the Center as a whole, and thus most efficiently and effectively achieve its overall research goals.
2. Focus on Data, Fieldwork, and Household and Community Surveys. By far the most distinctive characteristic of CCAP’s research program is the propensity of its researchersto conduct fieldwork. Rural survey work, via in-depth communication with local officials and rural households, allows for direct observation and a better understanding of new changes, trends and problems affecting rural China. Experience in rural survey work has allowed the Center to discover and develop the most effective methods and survey instruments for collecting information, thereby ensuring the reliability of the data collected for its policy research. In fact, to guarantee research quality, the Center relies almost solely on its own collected data. The center designs its own surveys, conducts its own pretests and trains its own survey teams (who are mainly Center graduate students or students from related research institutes). Since, as a result, the Center has quite an abundant array of data resources, we are able to conduct and develop in-depth research of very complex agricultural and rural issues in China, and produce clear and logical analyses. As such, the Center is well-respected for its high-quality fieldwork and research output.
3. Human Capacity-Building and Academic Exchange. Starting from a core team of three research fellows, the Center has since expanded to its current team of twelve, most of which have returned from study overseas, three of which have received the “Outstanding Young Scientists” award by China’s National Natural Science Foundation, and many of which have been awarded other national titles such as the “Hundred Key Scientist” award by CAS or the “The New Century’s ‘Bai Qian Wan’ Leading Scientist Program”. Apart from being engaged in high-quality, rigorous research, these research fellows also invest significant time in fostering the skills of the Center’s younger researchers and graduate students. Every year the Center recruits new graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, hosts various seminars and training courses, and invites foreign scholars at the cutting-edge of the field to conduct lectures, seminars and courses on general and new economic theory, policy analysis and applied economic research. Research staff at CCAP frequently offers economic theory, policy analysis and applied economics courses or lectures at home or elsewhere both domestically and internationally. Identifying future policy research needs and hosting academic visitors and students from other research organizations and universities is another way that CCAP contributes to human capacity-building. At the same time, promoting open and innovative policy discussion and academic exchange is one of the other major strategies that CCAP uses in order to stimulate academic and policy debate. A regular forum has been developed by CCAP to facilitate exchange of opinions, insights, and research methodologies. As such, CCAP’s research output is subject to significant outside peer review before being released to the public.
4. Close Dialogue with Policy Makers and Collaboration with Other Research Organizations. CCAP emphasizes that all of its work should contribute to China’s economic development. CCAP often carries out research activities that address key and emerging issues related to rural and agricultural development and rural household income, and provides suggestions and recommendations for better policy formulation. Because all of CCAP’s research is empirically based, it has had a significant impact in both academic and policy consultancy circles. Many of CCAP’s policy recommendations are listened to by Chinese governmental bodies. CCAP also pays attention to collaborate with other relevant research organizations in order to promote overall development in policy analysis.