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26 July 2017
The DRUSSA Digest | Vol 4 No 1 | April 2015
The DRUSSA Digest is published online at drussa.net and distributed electronically, four times a year. The Digest features articles about Research Uptake and Research Uptake Management (RUM) with a strong emphasis on the accomplishments of the DRUSSA universities, and the progress of the project. Please do forward this eDigest to your colleagues and suggest that they register as members of the DRUSSA Network.

Identifying and preparing research for uptake is a important issue addressed in the DRUSSA universities’ Research Uptake Strategies. Of all the research produced in universities only a proportion is conceived to be immediately applied to real-world issues. Research that is intended to be responsive to social and economic issues, often funded by government and development agencies, needs to be of a certain calibre.  In this issue contributors from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Limpopo describe the approaches taken and the challenges faced – each university has a different strategy and goals.  We explore some of the issues that should be be considered; how universities and their researchers can assess and assure quality and the strength of research evidence and perceptions about the calibre of research that is available through open access platforms.
 
DRUSSA is a capacity-building programme for individuals and universities – four years into the programme there is experience to be shared.  The 2015 annual SARIMA conference has a number of opportunities for research leaders, managers and administrators of varying experience and specialisations to strengthen, share and transfer their knowledge about key issues and skills.  The conference is co-hosted by the ACU and is an opportunity for both the DRUSSA programme and another Programme administered by the ACU, CAASTNet Plus to engage with the wider SSA research and policy community about the ways in which research evidence can both drive and respond to societal challenges
 
We hope you find this an interesting read. Please do follow the links to the full blog version of each article on www.drussa.net for more interesting reading. Please add any feedback or comments to particular features there. If you have any general suggestions or feedback we would be pleased to hear from you. Please email the Communications and Engagement Co-ordinator and  the DRUSSA DIGEST Editor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
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Developing a Research Uptake Culture

 

One of the challenges for communications practitioners is ensuring that they are alerted to quality and relevant research by the researchers themselves. In this blog Candes Keating interviews Dr Chris Nhlapo, the Cape Peninsula of Technology's (CPUT) DRUSSA Champion and Deputy VC for Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, on how CPUT is building a culture of Research Uptake at the university.

 

CPUT has been involved in a number of successful Research Uptake initiatives including developing nutrition supplements that lower the risk of heart disease and automating motor vehicles for people living with disabilities. Researchers at CPUT are making sure that their knowledge finds its way to those who need it.


But as Dr Nhlapo notes, “In the main, to date, we have relied on the individual researcher’s ability to identify uptake potential, and then to take the necessary action to implement uptake. However, this has now changed and we are working within an overarching strategy”. This move towards Research Uptake at CPUT is being driven by Dr Nhlapo to ensure a changing culture of research practice so that Research Uptake becomes the norm.  

 

Read the full blog here

 


Candes Keating is a Communication Officer, Marketing & Communication Department, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
 

 
How KNUST makes strategic choices about which research to feature for Uptake and Utilisation

 

Deciding which research to focus on to communicate development research solutions that could be taken up and utilized is now a strategic undertaking at KNUST. Courage Julius Logah discusses how the university chooses which research to focus on and mentions some of the challenges that communications practitioners face in finding research that fits the criteria for uptake.

 

With the inception of the DRUSSA project, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has, on the supply-side of research, been making efforts to communicate quality research that is of relevance to society in general and national development in particular. The aspiration is that it would provide context-specific scientific evidence for national policy formulation, implementation and evaluation, which would in turn lead to building stronger policies and strengthening the role of  universities in national development.



To this end, the university has been progressively putting in place infrastructure as well as building the capacity of selected staff in a move towards institutionalising Research Uptake Communication. KNUST has successfully communicated relevant quality research through the university’s website and in the Research Uptake Communications 2013 campaign, which included the print and digital publication, Platform2013. So how did we go about strategically identifying what research work was worth communicating?
 

Read the full blog here


Courage Julius Logah, is an IT and website manager at KNUST, and a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Committee

 
Deciding on a research topic to communicate for uptake is a daunting task

 

An important part of any university Research Uptake strategy is choosing which research to feature. To maximise opportunity for successful uptake  a research topic needs to be directly relevant to identfied societal needs. Johannes Selepe from the University of Limpopo gives us a glimpse into how UL selects topics as outlined in their UL2020 Research Strategy document, and decides on key dissemination outlets for publication.

 

Tne of the most difficult steps in beginning a research paper can be choosing a topic. Being a researcher involves the daunting task of coming up with brilliant ideas that seek to adjust, regulate and repair various societal ills. The University of Limpopo (UL) supports and guides researchers to select relevant and viable research topics using its Strategic Research Plan .

According to Prof. Jesika Singh, Acting Director of the Research Development and Administration Department, the University has developed a strategic plan that reflects the provincial key priority areas, and is also aligned with the country’s National Development Plan (NDP).
 

Read the full story here


Johannes Selepe is the Acting Senior Publications Practitioner, Marketing and Communication, University of Limpopo and a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Committee
 

 
Linking Research to Policy and Practice: assessing the strength of evidence

 

The focus of Research Uptake is on ensuring that research is taken up in policy or practice. The quality of research is therefore very important, as is the extent to which the research is grounded in and contributes to the broader body of evidence in a particular area. The cost (human and financial) of making policy or practice recommendations that are not supported by the overall body of evidence can be high.

 

In the world of science, research plays an important role. Within the many different types of research that are done, only some will be policy relevant, can perhaps be taken up by business, or used by a community to improve its' livelihoods and living conditions. Other research, including basic research, contributes to the body of knowledge but may not have immediate applications.

 
In the world of Research Uptake, the focus is on applied, contextualized research. Most universities across Africa are government-funded institutions that align their research strategies with government priorities with the aim of contributing to the body of research evidence that can be used to address these government priorities. How then is the quality of such research assessed, given its potential importance in guiding policy and practice?
 

Read the full blog here



Alison Bullen is DRUSSA.net’s content writer and a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Committee

 
Quality assessment and assurance: Sound evidence for sound policymaking 

 

A natural concern for university administrators, university stakeholders and funding agencies is the assessment and assurance of research quality, to ensure that evidence presented is academically sound.


To a large extent trust in the research community depends on sound quality assurance and assessment processes. Such activities inform funding decisions for projects, teams or even universities, the appointment of researchers, career advancement of researchers and crucially – what is published and disseminated. When research evidence is specifically directed toward influencing policy it has to be properly contextualised, relevant and accessible, in order to have the research findings taken up.
 

Research quality may have a range of dimensions including the scope and extent of the study, the applicability to context, the quality of the process that has been followed and methodological issues and shortcomings.
 

According to the Research Information Network research quality-assurance processes should consider how new techniques and technologies could supplement more traditional assurance systems. Technology may guide new mechanisms for assurance such as social tagging, recommendation systems, plagiarism-checking software, and online rating systems. More sophisticated bibliometric measures and new mechanisms such as Altmetrics will also play a role in quality assessment.

Read the full blog here


Dr Sara Grobbelaar is a Senior Researcher CREST, Stellenbosch University and a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Committee


 

 
Institutional Repositories and Open access: key tools for Research Uptake

 

Open access means unrestricted online access to peer-reviewed scholarly research. It not only encompasses open access journals, but also hybrid journals that provide open access only to articles for which the authors (or, more often, their institution or funder) have paid an open access publishing fee.

 

Authors can also arrange to archive a pre-version (after an article has been accepted for publication, but before it has been reviewed) or post-version of the article (after it has been reviewed but before it has been published) on their own websites, or the institutional repositories of their university.

This makes institutional repositories an important tool for promoting access to research and identifying research for uptake. These repositories are provided online via the university website and allow public access to information about published research, including, in some cases, the full text.


Setting up a repository is technically very easy, and there are open source software packages that can be used. Populating them however is more of a challenge, which requires juggling the needs of researchers, librarians, publishers and university management.

Research conducted by Thomas Reinsfelder, and published in the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication explores the complex environment in which open access publishing operates. He looks at the conditions facing not only researchers and publishers, but also academic administrators and librarians.

Read the full blog  here.


Alison Bullen is the DRUSSA.net content writer and a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Committee
 



 

 
DRUSSA Vice-Chancellors' Leadership Seminar

 

The Vice-Chancellors’ Leadership seminar to be held on the 11th  May, 2015, in Johannesburg, will, with invited experts, bring together the Vice Chancellors from the partner universities in the DRUSSA programme, to review and discuss the strategic direction of Research Uptake and impact within higher education.


One aim of the day’s discussions will be to explore different perspectives on what leadership in Research Uptake and impact for strategic advantage means. Another aim is to reach agreement on how to maximize the results of the investment made through people in the universities who have been working on the DRUSSA programme over the past three-and-a-half years.
 
The Vice-Chancellors will then to join the ACU-SARIMA conference taking place from the 12th to14th May, which will address the theme of research and innovation to meet global challenges.
 
Strategic leadership of the research enterprise at universities can enhance institutional competitiveness and increase delivery on social mission and common good.  
 
The Vice-Chancellors can expect to benefit from the networking and collaboration offered by the meeting and conference. The focus will be on ways in which the universities maximize their learning and investment in the DRUSSA programme though ways and how they can further improve their own performance and strengthen their potential to play a key role in national and continental development.



Karrine Sanders is the ACU’s DRUSSA Programme Manager
 

 
Pathways for Research Uptake: a series of discussions that take a fresh approach to knowledge transfer and Research Uptake

 

The CAAST-Net Plus and DRUSSA initiatives are two programmes that address  strengthening the use of research evidence in meeting global challenges. With a particular focus on partnerships in and with Africa’s institutions, both initiatives are at a stage where they can share lessons, offer recommendations and support an informed dialogue with stakeholders around some of the challenges that exist in this arena.

 

The joint CAAST-Net Plus / DRUSSA session has been conceived to explore contemporary issues and emerging lessons for better evidence-based decision making and better uptake of research for innovation in goods, services and technologies for global challenges.

The session is built on the premise that scope exists to enhance the transfer and translation of new research-based knowledge for better outcomes in the global challenges. This scope includes institutions producing research at policy and decision level and asks questions about the proximate causes.


Applying and using evidence and research outcomes can be constrained by a wide range of issues, for example: misalignment between research agendas and policy objectives and priorities; inappropriate and ineffective partnerships; lack of access to research information; weak interactions between policymakers, research communities and end-users; and poor communication between research and business / industry and SMEs / and,  innovation communities. The joint CAAST-Net Plus / DRUSSA session has been conceived to explore contemporary issues and emerging lessons for better evidence-based decision making and better uptake of research for innovation in goods, services and technologies for global challenges.

The session is built on the premise that scope exists to enhance the transfer and translation of new research-based knowledge for better outcomes in the global challenges. This scope includes institutions producing research at policy and decision level and asks questions about the proximate causes.

Applying and using evidence and research outcomes can be constrained by a wide range of issues, for example: misalignment between research agendas and policy objectives and priorities; inappropriate and ineffective partnerships; lack of access to research information; weak interactions between policymakers, research communities and end-users; and poor communication between research and business / industry and SMEs / and, innovation communities. 

 


 

 
Events
  • 27 - 28 April 2015 DRUSSA Universities Communications Network Training Event, Rwanda.
  • 4 - 6 May 2015 CARIMA Annual Conference, University of Buea, Cameroon.
  • 10 – 14 May 2015 ACU/Sarima Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • 12 May DRUSSA/CAAST-Net Plus joint session on Research Uptake.
  • 5 October - 15 December "Science communication: An introduction to theory, best practice and practical skills".This CREST course will be presented through the web-based learning management system of Stellenbosch University. You can find the online registration form here
  • 23 - 25 November WARIMA 2015, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana
 
The DRUSSA Digest | Vol 4 No 1 | April 2015
DRUSSA Network News is published quarterly. It is available on the DRUSSA blogsite, the DRUSSA App(register here to get the app) and via email (if you`re registered on the DRUSSA Network).
 
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