This non-thematic issue of the journal comprises four papers, two community notes and one case study. Both the first and third papers in this issue represent the outputs of CGIAR research, namely the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) respectively. The second paper explores how reflective adaptive processes (RAPs) facilitate communication in transdisciplinary research, while the fourth one brings together the knowledge and experiences from existing literature and from three cases on mainstreaming. The case study by François-Xavier de Perthuis de Laillevault considers monitoring capacity in the education sector to meet the demands for evidence-based data to meet performance and accountability principles supported by the Open Government partnership. This issue of the journal is dedicated with all respect to the memory of one of authors who very sadly passed away during December 2015.