|University of the Free State: Directorate of Research on Research Uptake|
|Thursday, 19 May 2016 14:17|
At the Research Communication workshop held recently in Johannesburg, DRUSSA.net caught up with Mandy Jampies from the University of the Free State’s Directorate of Research where she heads the Postdoctoral Students Unit. She spoke to us about Research Uptake at the university.
The university has a strong research focus as well as a focus on community engagement. It conducts both primary as well as applied research and its research covers a range of disciplines from the sciences to the humanities. In addition the university has a number of research institutes including the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED); the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, the International Studies Group, the Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa and the Centre for Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies.
Research Uptake (RU) is managed by the Directorate of Research Development which also manages NRF grants, innovation and business as well as research contracts and research outputs, which are put onto the National RIMS database as well as made available via the university website.
RU is integrated into the Research Strategy of the university. Top management including the VC and Deans of Faculties have been included in report backs on RU activities and will support RU going forward. The university is also planning to incorporate RU into the university curriculum as well as into staff development teaching-and-learning programmes.
Key stakeholders for the university are the surrounding communities, with the university’s community engagement policy outlining how the university engages with these communities. Other key stakeholders include funders as well as business/industry, while the Research Office is responsible for innovation and commercialisation activities.
The university uses a range of tools to get its message across including its website, online platforms, and radio and television. The university’s research page provides a link to research outputs, profiles of researchers and information about the research focus of each faculty. The Directorate of Research has dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages where researchers and their focus areas are highlighted.
Collaborating with researchers: using posters
As a DRUSSA partner UFS identified a specific project which showed how new or strengthened Research Uptake managements systems can maximise the chances of research being taken up by end users.
As part of this process we created a poster which reflects not only the research findings but also the Research Uptake process that was undertaken. In the development of the poster the Research Office met up with the principal researcher working on Cactus Pears and discussed the outcomes and how this current research impacts on South Africa economically and socially (we even got to taste the various products that can be made from the mucilage found in Cactus Pears, including different sorbets, yogurt and ice cream!).
We then designed the poster and wrote a short introduction on the research and the impact of the research. We opted to go for more eye catching photos instead of text. The process of designing and developing the poster was not difficult. Additional information and content we needed for the posters was found on the UFS library website, on facebook, youtube and the internet.
Mandy Jampies is the Communications Officer at the University of the Free State and a DRUSSA Research Uptake Communicator