|SARIMA Conference report back|
|Friday, 25 July 2014 14:12|
THE SARIMA2014 conference was a great success. A round up of key information and insights puts you in the picture.
The Southern African Research & Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) hosted the SARIMA Conference 2014 in Gaborone, Botswana from 6 to 10 July 2014.
Who was there?
More than 300 delegates from 15 countries attended the SARIMA Conference 2014. Nineteen people from eight countries in the DRUSSA programme attended.
DRUSSA- led Discussion session: Communication and the Uptake of Research
Research managers increasingly have to carry out university research output and research utilization assessment as an integral part of the jobs, and this discussion session was well attended. Dr. John Kirkland of the ACU kicked off the session by outlining DRUSSA’s strategic approach to institutionalizing Research Uptake, with Dr. Sara Grobbelaar of CREST continuing this discussion in the context of institutionalising Research Uptake Management in a university.
The discussion then continued with a focus on specific DRUSSA Universities. Dr. John Simwinga of University of Zimbabwe and Prof Shaun Pather of Cape Peninsula University of Technology bothpresented on progress in institutionalizing Research Uptake Management at their respective universities.
Ms. Diana Coates talked about a strategic approach to institutionalizing Research Uptake Communication in a university raising the issue of where the professional science communication skills required would best be located – in the research office, in the university public relations office, or in faculty offices.
‘Influencing the Agenda: Putting Evidence into Action.’
Of particular interest to Universities engaged in Research Uptake was Dr. Peter Taylor of the IDRC’s Think Tank Initiative plenary presentation entitled ‘ Influencing the Agenda: Putting Evidence into Action.’ The TTI’s focus is narrower than the DRUSSA universities, but its purpose is similar – to share learning about strengthened organizational performance, supportive capacity development, improved research quality and ability to engagement and communicate with stakeholders – particularly policy-influencers and policy-makers. The TTIs work directly in the research-to-policy nexus to identify and create favourable conditions and relationships with policy-makers. But, Dr Taylor said, the outcomes are often unexpected, not straightforward and it can be hard to provide evidence of influence on a decision.
As a more mature programme than DRUSSA’s, the TTI has had the opportunity to gauge the demand for policy research in Africa and has found that the demand for information to inform policy consultation is increasing. The results of TTI surveys that identified sources and distribution methods favoured in the policy environment show that theseare different from those that are reportedly preferred in the Northern hemisphere. The survey results indicate that in Africa websites are the most effective means of providing information that can be easily accessed, while newsletters and books are not popular. Also, that Government research institutes and think tanks tend to be a more favoured source than university-based institutes. Other results of these surveys of policy-influencers indicated that reports are preferred over databases, conferences or events, and over discussions with colleagues. But a constant finding was that policy-makers use a variety of information sources. For university-based Research Uptake these are findings that have value when developing stakeholder engagement strategies.
Ms. Felicitas Moyo from University of Zambia was invited to give a poster presentation, and presented ‘Science, Technology and Evidence-Based Industry Research Uptake Challenges and Solutions: The case of the University of Zambia.’
Felicitas is a DRUSSA bursary-holder completing her PhD in Science and Technology Studies (Research Uptake and Utilisation) at CREST, University of Stellenbosch.
The SARIMA conference this year, as was the case last year, provided the DRUSSA universities’ representatives with a collegial environment to strengthen productive relationships between institutions, and to promote the case for the professionalization of Research Uptake.
All the SARIMA presentations
Visit the SARIMA conference website to find all the presentations online.