|Tracking Research Output at KNUST to support Research Uptake|
|Monday, 13 October 2014 12:14|
Not all research has the potential for use in policy or practice, but much of it does. A metadata information system on research output aids the identification process, so that universities are able to support Research Uptake plans and activities that do have a potential impact on policy and/or practice.
How we got started
Before the introduction of the DRUSSA programme, KNUST had an Institutional Repository for research undertaken by its staff and students. This stored not only information on the completed research, but also a digital copy of published articles and student thesis reports: essentially completed research. The Quality Assurance and Planning unit of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office also collated the annual research output of the University, which is published annually in the University’s Basic Statistics, as well as the Facts and Figures brochure produced during congregation.
However, with the introduction of the DRUSSA programme, it became evident that KNUST needed to work towards having a Research Information System, which stored metadata on all completed and on-going research undertaken in the University. This was because a lot of work had to be done to gain access to information on on-going research in particular, in order to choose a few to support in terms of strategic Research Uptake planning and implementation.
Around the same time, The Office of Grants and Research that serves as a centralised university office for externally funded research was also facing similar challenges in gaining access to research output information to provide support for faculty, staff and students in their efforts to seek, secure and administer mainly external funding, in the most accurate and efficient manner. The DRUSSA Team, realising this bottleneck in its Research Uptake efforts, teamed up with the Office of Grants and Research, the Library and the University Information Technology Services to improve the Institutional Repository, in addition to developing and maintaining an institutional Research Information System.
Where we are?
The Office of Grants and Research and the Library, together with the DRUSSA team, worked to identify relevant metadata information and designed the questionnaire to be used for data collection. The University Information and Technology Services were provided with the functionality requirements of the information system needed. They developed and deployed this information system. Currently, data collection is underway to populate the information system’s database. The rationale is that this [information system] will aid understanding of the university’s research landscape, making it easier and less time consuming to identify and support research with high potential for uptake. That is, research that is most relevant and of immediate use to policy and practice.
Intended benefits to be derived
The DRUSSA KNUST team envisions that the information system, populated with complete data about on-going and completed research, will play a vital role in understanding the research efforts of the academics in the university. It will also play a key role in organising research with high potential for uptake and communicating it to relevant audiences, amongst other support activities to ensure its utilisation and application.
Currently, this new information system reveals research output evidence that indicates research undertaken at the university depends largely on external funding. Going forward, the research output aspect of our new information system will enable a quantitative understanding of the output, primarily based on the source of funding. External or internal (government or individual staff), will be accessible on this basis. This will help inform the DRUSSA team’s strategic efforts to shape the University’s research agenda, and thereby the research produced by the University as a whole, so as to ensure it has impact on policy and practice in the country.
An overview of the institutional research landscape in terms of completed and on-going research to a great extent removes bottlenecks in implementing Research Uptake strategies. With an information system in place it’s easier to analyse information on research output and to identify research with high potential for uptake, and which may be eligible for institutional support for dissemination and utilisation. Related Research Uptake Communication activities have been planned accordingly. These include a Research E-Newsletter (Research Communication in general), an Innovation and Development Fair, and Stakeholder Engagement plans, just to mention a few. Partly as a result of the DRUSSA programme, identifying appropriate research for Research Uptake Campaigns should pose less of a challenge in the future.
Despite the effort involved in developing the Research Information System there are major challenges to address. One such challenge is getting research active staff to submit the information required and to provide copies of completed research to be uploaded to the Institutional Repository. Amongst the numerous reasons for apathy and hesitation is that: in some cases research came about through individual efforts without the direct support of the University; concerns about intellectual property theft; researchers inadequate understanding of how the system benefits them and thereby the University, amongst others.
Interactive Question: How can we encourage the voluntary submission of completed and on-going research to the repository by research active academic staff?
Courage Julius Logah (Systems Analyst), Vice Chancellor's Office (VCO) - UITS, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com