To ensure a systematic and comprehensive examination of the literature, the research team approached the review in three phases: search, review, and analysis. First, through discussions with a project consultant with expert knowledge of the foundation world and preliminary library and web-based searches, we identified authoritative sources from government, foundation (including professional consortia), and academic spheres (including university centers and think tanks). We then conducted a broad scan of literature from these sources, using keyword searches as appropriate, and compiled a database of potentially useful documents. Given the growth in the foundation sector and the changing priorities of USG, we focused mainly on works published within the past decade, 1998-2008.
The study team then assessed the quality and salience of the documents and selected between 5 and 10 from each type of source for detailed review. In the second phase, reviewers read the documents and entered information into an analytic guide, which was linked conceptually to the research questions. Finally, the task leader examined the guides for all of the reviewed documents to develop a detailed outline for the review. Where she identified gaps, researchers conducted another search and review for the specific topic in question. The search protocol and review guide are included in Appendixes A and B, respectively.
Concurrent with the literature search and review, the research team also examined non-peer reviewed or gray literature on specific foundations and USG agencies, as well as their domestic and international health and social services initiatives. These organizations were identified variously by ASPE, by the project consultant, and by the research team during the review of literature. In a process similar to that described above, researchers compiled a database of organizations and initiatives to serve as the pool of potential case studies. Some of these cases are discussed below, but they are used as illustrative examples only, with the final case studies to be determined in consultation with ASPE.