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26 March 2017
Online Learning Resource Print
Thursday, 18 August 2016 11:37

Over the five years of the Programme the selection of resources to support Research Uptake capacity strengthening has been ongoing, curated and published on DRUSSA.net by the Communication and Engagement unit, directed and run by Organisation Systems Design in South Africa. Karrine Saunders, the ACU's DRUSSA Programme Manager, takes us through the key resources and their availability in the future.

The DRUSSA Digest has been used as a vehicle to draw attention to resources as they were published, while DRUSSA’s TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn platforms have been used to draw visitors to the blogsite. In-person communication and promotion of the resource at key events has also played a significant role. The result has been a readership that has voluntarily registered to be part of the Research Uptake Network. The numbers have grown from a first edition readership of hundreds in June 2012 to thousands in August 2016. Analytics show that DRUSSA.net readers spend more and more time paging through the site as the cache of blogs and documents grow; in 2012 the average was a couple of minutes and in 2016 the average time has grown to over 7 minutes a visit. 

The staff that each of the DRUSSA universities assigned to strengthen their organisational capacity have driven the agenda and worked tirelessly – in what in some ways were uncharted waters - to improve the accessibility, uptake and utilisation of research. ‘Research Uptake’ is now recognised as a fundamental element of research being managed well. Twenty two universities and nine ministries took part in the programme deepening their practice and understanding of the complexities and benefits of evidence applying Research Uptake management skills to the evidence-based development research produced at the participating Universities.The staff that each of the DRUSSA universities assigned to strengthen their organisational capacity have driven the agenda and worked tirelessly – in what in some ways were uncharted waters - to improve the accessibility, uptake and utilisation of research. ‘Research uptake’ is now recognised as a fundamental element of research being managed well. The twenty two universities and nine ministries that have taken part in the programme have experienced the complexities and benefits of producing and using research evidence.

"The ACU will maintain and extend the Learning Resource. providing the information and materials for universities intending to develop and implement planned Research Uptake strategies that are informed by best practice in the field"

Throughout the programme many workshops, discussions, dialogues, trainings and symposia took place and a wealth of learning materials have been amassed and curated. Much of it has been featured in the DRUSSA Digest and is available on the programme website, DRUSSA.net

  • Reports and handbooks, consisting of how-to guides, Benchmarking Reports, Framework for Strategy reports and Symposia Reports
  • Open access online training materials, consisting of Research Uptake Communication training, knowledge to policy, science knowledge utilisation, science and the media, research methods and civil servants’ training
  • Planning tools, consisting of templates for planning Research Uptake developments, critical success indicators frameworks and stakeholder mapping exercises
  • Open access public engagement and research uptake literature produced by a range of funding bodies, research organisations, and public engagement and research communications bodies and consisting of how-to guides and curated knowledge relating to policy engagement, demonstrating research impact, reaching diverse audiences with research and toolkits for communications officers.
  • Sample university policies and strategies in Research Uptake and engagement, produced and implemented by DRUSSA universities and by other universities worldwide consisting of university policies in knowledge mobilisation, research communication, human resources, incentivisation and training, establishing external linkages and outreach, establishing institutional research repositories, evaluation frameworks and strategic plans for research uptake and communication.
  • Conference presentations, consisting of case studies, demonstrator research projects, shared learning derived from DRUSSA training, Research Uptake themes such as stakeholder engagement, communication, strategy and processes and evaluation and institutionalisation of research uptake in practice.
  • Original articles commissioned by DRUSSA and published online

When  the programme winds down in September 2016,  DRUSSA.net will be maintained for a few months and in addition all key resources and learning materials will be held in an online Learning Resource that will be hosted by the ACU.

The ACU will maintain and extend the Learning Resource, providing Universities access to information and materials informed by best practice in the field to facilitate the development and implementation of planned Research Uptake strategies.. Universities can draw on these digital resources to: design and initiate in-house Research Uptake training for early career academics as well as Research Uptake and research management staff; build support for the establishment/expansion of specialist Research Uptake staff posts, drawing on job descriptions and successful examples of how this is already being done elsewhere. A body of literature and scholarship in the field of Research Uptake, contributed by programme staff, DRUSSA graduates from the University of Stellenbosch’s CREST and selected from other sources has been curated and this too will be kept up to date.

"Universities will be able to use these guides for professional staff development, induction programme and when presenting workshops aimed at building capacity in Research Uptake"

Some of the materials that have been developed as a result of programme activities include:

Research Uptake good practice statements developed by leaders and champions across the universities as the programme developed, providing a good starting point.

Handbooks that offer a pragmatic and discursive grounding in some of the key elements of Research Uptake including stakeholder management, communication and engagement and developing an institutional Research Uptake strategy.

A literature study of international and African experience of Research Uptake that provides a comprehensive assessment of the field.

Case studies undertaken by several universities in the programme that explore how Research Uptake can be planned and incorporated into research projects in different contexts.

Case studies based on DRUSSA graduates theses and research reports.

An Online Training Guide in Communicating Research which is available for universities to access and utilise to support their own internal training and staff development programmes.

An Online Training Guide in Research Uptake for early career researchers and research administrators.

Together the two online guides illustrate key learning in the programme that can be used as induction and part of staff training and will also be useful to all university staff members who play a supporting and facilitating role in research management and dissemination.

Universities will be able to draw on the information in these guides for professional staff development, induction programme and when presenting workshops aimed at building capacity in Research Uptake.


Karrine Sanders is the ACU's DRUSSA Programme Manager.

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