|The New DRUSSA Online Research Communication Guide|
|Friday, 29 July 2016 10:49|
An online Research Communication Guide was produced as part of a series of DRUSSA learning materials designed to support universities to build capacity in communicating research, as well as to embed good practice in research communication within participating institutions.
If you are working in a communication, media or research office at a university (or similar research institution) in Africa this guide is intended for you. Researchers who are interested to develop their confidence and skills in communicating their research outside the academic community and engaging public audiences will also find it useful.
Communication, media and research offices at research universities are hubs of strategic information. Staff members working in these offices have access to research leaders and insight into the future potential of research being conducted within the university. They are ideally placed to make university-based research more visible and accessible to their stakeholders and the public.
People who work towards communicating and promoting research and focusing attention on the importance of the research evidence, are called “research communicators”. On the whole, research communicators act as “enablers”. It is their job to build and nurture positive relationships between the research community and the public stakeholders. Although they often work behind the scenes, they can make a crucial difference in research impact and uptake.
The guide, developed by Marina Joubert at CREST, explains how research communicators can optimise the visibility and accessibility of research taking place in the organisations where they work, and how this can benefit the researchers, the university and broader society. It is divided into two main sections. The first part of the guide (“Setting the scene”) focuses on key concepts and a broad understanding of research (or science) communication, with links to some informative research articles. The second half (“Essential skills for research communicators”) focuses on practical knowledge, with step-by-step advice.
Communication professionals should be able to use this guide as reference when presenting workshops aimed at building capacity in research communication.
Throughout the guide, links to additional (online) resources are provided, including short videos, research articles, opinion pieces and materials that can be used during training.
Based on extensive experience
Over the past 5 years DRUSSA universities have been working to build the Research Uptake and communication capabilities within their institutions. Through their hard work, substantial learning has been gained. This training course captures much of that learning, providing a range of practical support that will be of immense value for communicating research today.
The content of the guide is based in part on the online certificate course in science communication developed in collaboration with the DRUSSA programme and delivered by CREST (at Stellenbosch University).
The content of the guide was further informed by feedback from a workshop that was held in Kigali, Rwanda during May 2015. Workshop participants from the DRUSSA universities were asked to consider the proposed content, and suggest changes and additions to the guide, focusing on their institutions’ communication experience, needs, challenges and priorities.
The guide was also reviewed by a team of experienced professional communicators whose quotes, ideas and best practice advice have been included.
Further input on the guide was gathered from participants at a “train-the-trainers” workshop held on 4 and 5 April 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. During this two-day workshop every section of the guide was discussed and special features pointed out. Delegates, most of whom had participated in the Kigali workshop, scored the quality and usefulness of the content at more than 90% in a post-workshop online evaluation. They also had the opportunity to provide further suggestions, quotes and tips from own experience.
Since April the research communication teams at the DRUSSA universities have used the online Guide to customise and run their own internal training workshops for staff and researchers.
The DRUSSA online Research Communication Guide is an open access offering.
Content created by DRUSSA is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) licence and may therefore be reproduced free of charge without requiring specific permission.
Marina Joubert has asserted her right to be identified as the compiler of the work.
Marina Joubert is a Researcher: Science communication at CREST (Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology) Stellenbosch University, South Africa