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22 September 2017
Promoting Science Communication at the University of Buea Print
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 14:09

Sama Awa-Mengi has immersed herself in Science Communication and Research Uptake since being nominated as a Research Uptake Communications Officer at the University of Buea. Through the RUC2014 and 2015 coaching programmes and her participation in the CREST Science Communication course in early 2015 she has learned both the good practices and the reality of communicating for uptake on behalf of the the University and its staff.

Defining Communication as “Ways and means of disseminating research findings to a target audience, using appropriate media and language, to initiate usage for the benefit of the end user” Sama Awa-Mengi ,the Public and Alumni Relations Officer at the University of Buea, highlighted the best practice principles she has learned during the RUC2014 coaching experience and the Science Communication course. These have helped her begin to contribute to building the Research Uptake culture at the university.

"Information is power and communicating science creates awareness and empowers people beyond the university"

Why Communicate Science?

The big question researchers ask is “why”? Why should Science Communication be part of their work.  For Sama it is simple. Information is power and communicating science creates awareness and empowers people beyond the university. It is also important for knowledge building and of course an essential part of Research Uptake. It also can influence policy, encourage public engagement and all of this leads to development for the common good.

Sama’s presentation also outlined ways in which science can be communicated – through story-telling humour, graphics, science fairs and open days, amongst many others.

 

Motivating researchers

In motivating researchers to communicate their research findings Sama outlined the benefits of Science Communication:

  • Utilitarian argument: we gain skills for subsequent use
  • Economic argument: it will provide technological and skilled labour thereby increasing the country’s output
  • Cultural argument: Science represents a shared heritage and should be recognized as a wider part of our culture
  • The democratic argument: science affects most major decisions in the society. The public should able to interpret basic scientific information
"Research Uptake practitioners are all too aware of the challenges in research uptake, for example lack of funding"

 

Challenges

Research Uptake practitioners are all too aware of the challenges in research uptake, for example lack of funding, lack of human resources, administrative bottlenecks and the fact that uptake is often only considered at the end of a project, as an add-on, rather than throughout the project, which is more effective.  As well as this there can be conflict between researchers and communicators in deciding how best to communicate research.

Other challenges relate to the multitude of media channels that can be used for communication -  and the difficult decisions of which media best suits your audience.

 

Progress!

With the expertise built up through both the training as well as the RUC2014 process, which was recently complemented by the RUC2015 workshop in Kigali, the University of Buea is on the right track. Having already appointed the communications experts and published a reworked article by Dr Lotsmart Funjong as part of the RUC2014 campaign, they have also started a RUC blog on their website.

 

Working together

Apart from the RUC2015 workshop continuing to build capacity amongst Research Uptake practitioners, it also provided an opportunity for them to share experiences with others and realise that their goals, environments and challenges are similar.

Sama Awa-Mengi and Dr Lotsmart Funjong’s RUC 2014 blog can be found here


Sama Awa-Mengi is the Public and Alumni Relations Officer, University of Buea

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