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23 June 2017
Towards an insightful understanding the RU Landscape: The DRUSSA Case Studies series Print
Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:16

Case studies have been produced from the DRUSSA- sponsored MPhil graduates’ dissertations and from research undertaken by the DRUSSA programme team. All of the case studies provide current insights into different aspects of Research Uptake in sub-Saharan Africa.

Talking about Science Communication

In a paper entitled Science Communication at the NUST in Zimbabwe,  MPhil graduate Heather Ndlovu, a lecturer and Research Uptake Communicator at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), reviewed the research communication preferences of NUST academics/researchers. Although academics were positive about science communication, the study found that very little was actually taking place. The case study provides recommendations to facilitate academics’ uptake of science communications skills, including:

  • drafting a policy to guide academic staff on the procedures to be followed in engaging general readerships and audiences,
  • amending existing employment contracts to mandate academics to engage in research communication activities,
  • realigning academics’ duties so as to prioritise both research and communication,
  • redirecting focus to improve funding for research including the allocation of a budget for research communication,
  • rewards and incentives for academics to include research communication about research results,
  • introduction of training programmes for Research Communication,
  • employment of a professional science communicator. 

Research Utilisation

"The case study suggests that researchers embrace collaboration and aim to achieve a balance between self-initiated projects and commissioned research, which ultimately results in greater utilisation"

Mphil graduate Theogene Nyandwi’s case study Research Utilisation: A Case Study From The University of Rwanda provides insight into the extent to which Research Uptake and utilisation was practised at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS) between 2004 and 2013. It also reviews dissemination strategies within selected research projects, the nature of collaboration of academic staff and provides recommendations on how to strengthen Research Uptake.  

The case study suggests that researchers embrace collaboration and aim to achieve a balance between self-initiated projects and commissioned research, which ultimately results in greater utilisation. It recommends that the College of Medicine and Health Sciences institutionalise Research Uptake Management to a greater degree. The research funding process should also consider the uptake and utilisation of research results into the research scrutiny process. Finally, case studies of Research Uptake and utilisation should offer not only the perspective of the researchers, but incorporate the views and practices of the actual users.

At the University of Rwanda, Samuel Mutarindwa reviewed the holdings of academic papers produced by staff in the College of Science and Technology (CST) in his study Research Utilisation At The University Of Rwanda: College Of Science & Technology. He found that there were many research projects that had potential for uptake including:

  • A research project in biotechnology that has contributed to the production of biodiesel, a safe and environmentally friendly car fuel.
  • A drainage master plan designed in an environmental sciences project that is being used to control surface water pollution.
  • Research in the agricultural sector that has informed the introduction of new bean varieties.
  • Research that has contributed to increased community awareness of socio-economic issues related to the management of wetlands.

Despite this, research was produced mainly for the advancement of knowledge, since most beneficiaries were colleagues from the same discipline.  Only some research produced at the CST was utilised by non-academic audiences such as government (in policymaking), the community or general public, and practitioners.

The study recommends, inter alia, that the communication of research targeting users and funders be improved; that policymakers be sensitised to the role of research in policy decision-making; and that collaboration be promoted between the producers of knowledge (researchers, funders) and users of knowledge (policymakers, practitioners such as professional bodies, industries and communities).

In her case study “Research Utilisation At The University Of Ibadan” Dr Eme Owoaje examined the issue of knowledge utilisation from the perspective of researchers at the UI. It explored how research is communicated at UI and identified various factors that influence RU. The findings will have implications for assessing RU processes at the university. 

 

Research Collaboration

"The purpose of the study was to gain insight into the motivations and activities that underlie research collaborations, within Ghana, with the rest of Africa, and beyond Africa."

In a study Research Output & Collaboration At The University Of Ghana Frederick Owusu-Nimo investigated, by means of a bibliometric profile, the research output of Ghanaian-affiliated researchers, and the extent and nature of research collaboration. The purpose of the study was to gain insight into the motivations and activities that underlie research collaborations, within Ghana, with the rest of Africa, and beyond Africa.

The study found that collaboration increased the productivity of Ghanian researchers, with papers produced as a result of collaboration increasing from 60% in 1990 to 95% in 2013. Indications are that Ghanaian researchers collaborate significantly more with international counterparts than with local researchers. Within this category, collaboration takes place more frequently with those outside Africa than those inside. This confirms earlier findings that collaboration among African countries is weak. Reasons are that such collaborations give researchers access to expertise and funds, while simultaneously enhancing productivity.

 

Research Uptake Management

Dr Sara Grobbelaar and Dr Tom Harber, in their study Institutionalising Research Uptake At 22 Sub-Saharan African Universities studied RU mechanisms and practices that have emerged within a sample of 22 sub-Saharan African (SSA) universities in order to explore research uptake management (RUM) as a new field of specialisation in research management and to provide a rationale for why it is becoming increasingly relevant within the higher education sector, both inside and outside Africa.

 


Alison Bullen is the DRUSSA Programme Content Writer

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