|University of Botswana Research Uptake|
|Friday, 29 July 2016 11:12|
DRUSSA.net interviewed Letshwiti Tutwane, a social commentator and university lecturer who attended the Research Communication workshop held in Johannesburg in April about the University of Botswana's Research Uptake activities. Research Uptake is very much part of the University’s core objectives. One of its strategic objectives is to enhance the impact of research through community engagement, contribution to policy, public engagement days and open days amongst others.
The University of Botswana’s vision is to become a centre of excellence in Africa and the world, with a mission of advancing the intellectual and human resource capacity of the nation. It requires universities to contribute to an “educated and informed nation through its teaching research and service to the university, their profession and to the community and linked closely to societal needs”.
The national government of Botswana is calling for demand driven research – research is produced because the research need has been identified. The university is working with the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) to ensure that research is aligned with the government’s National Vision 2016 (now National Vision 2030). The result of this exercise will affect the university’s Research Policy (updating the current one).
Institutional Support: Research Uptake Management
The university has now conceptualised a research uptake management process under the direction of the DVC of Academic Affairs, that includes services from proposal writing to quality assurance – copy editing etc. to support researchers to publish research for both academic and general audiences. Currently applicants for internal research grants are requested to identify stakeholders and possible applications of the research – individuals and organisations that will be interested in or affected by the research they wish to undertake,
Research information is key to being able to identify and promote research for uptake. The Office of Research and Development needs knowledge of all research being undertaken in order to identify research with Research Uptake potential. An online Research Information Management system is being planned. The system will allow the university to track and validate research outputs as well as report and identify research for further dissemination (via the website and other media) and re-use (knowledge translation). The DRUSSA/Research Uptake team is working with the Media Studies Department to bring together people who can potentially help with Research Uptake. Currently each faculty has a DRUSSA Representative so they all know about DRUSSA and Research Uptake.
At the Benchmarking Conference in Mauritius, Dr Sekhwela, the Director of the Office of Research and Development noted that the Benchmarking Surveys conducted by the DRUSSA programme have allowed the university to identify areas of learning and good practice at other Universities which the University of Botswana can include in its overall Research Uptake activities.
Research Uptake Enablers
The University of Botswana sees uptake enablers as research communication, knowledge translation, stakeholder analysis and stakeholder engagment. Some of the services to the community include a legal clinic as well as a business clinic that supports small business developers. This provides the business developers with much needed expert support, and the students with insight into the needs of the communities they work with.
Working with the Media
Through the involvement of both the Media Studies Department and Public Relations team the Research Uptake team plans to be more involved with and develop a stronger relationship with the media. They also plan to resuscitate the university radio. Media staff have been trained in Science Communication, so that they can be part of the team.
Letshwiti Tutwane is a lecturer in the Media Department and attended the DRUSSA Research Communications workshop in April 2016