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19 September 2018
Now published: The DRUSSA 2014 Research Uptake Benchmarking Report Print
Thursday, 26 June 2014 13:24


Liam Roberts discusses highlights and background as the DRUSSA project publishes the second benchmarking report that tracks and measures the DRUSSA universities’ implementation of new ways to strengthen and deepen their institutional Research Uptake (RU) systems.


Understanding the Trajectory and the Nature of Change

The 2014 Benchmarking process followed up on the first Survey undertaken in 2012 .  The 2014 Survey Report (and Appendix with key) illustrates the trends and highlights drawn from a three-phase process, as well as the successes, challenges, and changes taking place in each of the universities. There are some exemplary models of good Research Uptake that have been developed in conjunction with the DRUSSA project in the past two years and, in many cases, there is an increased focus on Research Uptake (RU) as a systemised function of the research process itself.  Highlights identified include:

  • Respondents noted that their universities offer incentives to (academic) staff and departments to encourage the development of RU partnerships with the public, government, NGOs, and the private sector. Of those who responded to the 2012 survey, a little more than half (53%) said their university had such RU incentives, whereas the corresponding figure in 2014 is 72%.
  • Over half of respondents said that their university gives high or very high priority to RU collaboration with non-HE actors, including partnering with the government, NGOs and community-based organizations to include their views in the research process.
  • More than half the universities (64%) indicated that RU training or resources are provided to their academic staff to identify the needs of external stakeholders in the research design stage. This is considerably more than in 2012 when 47% reported university support.
  • 80% of the universities reported that their institution either has or is developing a RU communication strategy. The survey shows that, since 2012, five more universities have started developing these strategies.

The 2014 Report gives a deeper view of the range of ways the universities are managing RU and gives a deeper understanding of the “trajectory” and the nature of institutional change across the community.

“These results map the state of play in RU in the universities and chart the changes seen since the inaugural exercise back in 2012.”

Why Research Uptake benchmarking is important

Benchmarking is our way of learning more about what the DRUSSA universities are putting in place to manage research support systems, and to see what trends are emerging across different regions in SSA and in different RU themes. The Report provides information to better understand the nature of getting development research evidence into use, and how institutional management of this process is changing and maturing.


Insights: Repeated benchmarking provides comparative data

What marked out the 2014 Benchmarking Exercise is that there was a comparison of the results against those of 2012. An additional dimension was the inclusion of a section about specific systems and practices (including RU Strategy; RU Processes; Stakeholder Engagement; and the Communication of Research). These results map the state of play in RU in the universities and chart the changes seen since the inaugural exercise back in 2012.

In a three-phase process, universities returned an extensive survey on Research Uptake, which was then analyzed for broad highlights and trends. Then university-selected representatives convened for the Leadership and Benchmarking event in Cape Town in March, where delegates discussed the findings, elaborated on initiatives in place at their university and compared areas of good practice in their own regions. Finally the Report has been distributed to senior leadership in each university.

This, second, DRUSSA Benchmarking Report can serve as a useful guide for all DRUSSA universities as they continue to implement and track their initiatives over the coming years – and, as always, the DRUSSA team is ready to support these initiatives every step of the way.

Liam Roberts is Programme Officer: Policy, at the Association of Commonwealth Universities