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22 September 2017
The DRUSSA Digest | Vol 5 No 1 | May 2016
Editorial and Contents
 
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.
 
Editorial
 
As the DRUSSA programme draws to an end we continue to feature articles from our participant universities about how Research Uptake Management capacity and Research Uptake (RU) activities are being integrated and consolidated.  The articles are written by communicators nominated by their universities for DRUSSA training in RU engagement and communication.  The RU communicators are currently participating in the 2016 Research Uptake Communication campaign and we will be featuring their RU websites in the next months.  In this edition RU communicators from the Universities of Ibadan, Kenyatta, Ghana and Cape Peninsula University of Technology tell us about different aspects of RU.
Our DRUSSA tech guru gives good advice on how RU communicators can use online emailing tools to direct stories to specific reader communities. The Research Communicators Guide is an online resource that’s going to be used by our DRUSSA universities’ RU staff to familiarize and support staff to write up their research findings for their identified stakeholder communities, and its going to be available for wider use as its an open access, creative commons licensed output of the programme.  Previous rounds of CREST’s (University of Stellenbosch) online Science Communication course, developed under the auspices of the programme goes on from strength to strength and the course will be delivered again in September 2016. 
We congratulate graduates of CREST’s MPhil in Science and Technology (Research Uptake and Utilisation).
The DRUSSA universities’ Leaders and Champions met in April for the final Benchmarking Conference under the auspices of the programme.  The event looked back – at changes that were planned and have been implemented – and forward at what’s still to be implemented by the universities to further consolidate RU permanently in their policies and practices.  The Benchmarking III survey results provided the evidence of institution-specific organizational change and were the basis for sharing lessons learned and re-evaluation of the good practices in RU that were identified at Benchmarking I in June 2012.  
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 even 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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University of Ibadan Vice Chancellor talks about Research Uptake
As the DRUSSA Programme draws to a close some of our Research Uptake Communicators met up with their Vice Chancellors, to chat about how Research Uptake capacity has been incorporated at their universities. In this blog Adeola Funmilayo Oladeji interviews the University of Ibadan Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Abel Olayinka. He discusses the framework for Research Uptake at the university and concludes that “as the DRUSSA programme is coming to an end, we need to look at challenges and things that we have not been able to do well and continue in order to sustain the programme”.

Before his appointment as the 12th Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan in September 2015, Prof Olayinka was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), and the DRUSSA Champion for a period of four years. He has also served as the President of the West African Research and Innovation Management Association (WARIMA) from 2007 to 2015.

What policies or strategies are in place that support Research Uptake?

The University now has a research policy in place. We also have an intellectual property policy, policy on authorship of scholarly publications and policy on research ethics. The University is also planning to have Open Access policy as well as a Communication policy in place in the future. The development of the University Extension and Outreach policy is in progress. In terms of strategy, over the past few years, as part of efforts to deepen Research Uptake, the University has established the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and also a central Research Management Office. In addition we now have Research Managers at faculty level to support researchers to find funding opportunities, to assist in proposal writing, especially with the budgeting aspect, and, to include communication and engagement plans for Research Uptake in applications.


Read the rest of the interview here

 
Adeola Funmilayo Oladeji is a Research Administrator in University of Ibadan, a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Board, and one of the University’s Research Uptake Communicators.
 
Talking about Research Uptake at Kenyatta University
Sweeney Violet Tindi, administrator in the Division of Research Innovation and Outreach (RIO) at Kenyatta University (KU), and one of the University’s Research Uptake Communicators interviews the Registrar, Prof. Vincent Onywera, to talk about Research Uptake at the university, focussing on the role of RIO and the institutional mechanisms that have been put in place at KU to support Research Uptake.
 
What Policies or Strategies are in place that support Research Uptake?

The University has over the years transformed and enhanced its research culture with a great understanding of research’s contribution to economic, social and cultural development and environmental sustainability. The creation of the Division of Research, Innovation and Outreach has provided research and its entire span and cycle of activities prominence within the University’s strategies. The Division is supported by two centres, one of which is the Centre for Research Support and Dissemination which is tasked with, among other things, strengthening Research Uptake. The revised Research Policy is another key document which will be crucial in guiding research and uptake activities. It is aligned with the University’s 2016-2026 Strategic and Vision plan as well as the country’s Vision 2030. It is currently in the final stages of review and approval.

Read the full interview here.
 

Violet Sweeney Tindi is Kenyatta University’s DRUSSA Research Uptake Communicator, based in the Division of Research, Innovation and Outreach.
 
Research Uptake Action Plan: Cementing Research Uptake Efforts at the University of Ghana
To address the Research Uptake capacity gap, the University of Ghana has developed a five year action plan which sets the strategic tone and direction for the uptake and utilisation of research findings from the university. John Anoku, the universities Research Development Officer, takes us through key aspects of the plan which is currently in draft form.
 
The uptake and utilisation of evidence-based research is vital in the developmental policy formulation process. Interestingly, governments and donor agencies are becoming more critical and expect researchers to account for their research works. In addition, scientists are also motivated to make their research works useful to society. Policy makers are also concerned about the usefulness of scientific research work to society.

The above factors attest to the importance of Research Uptake and that Research Uptake cannot be relegated to the background. Much development in scientific and technological advancement was underpinned by the uptake of scientific research. And, the uptake and utilisation of academic research has in fact led to new discoveries in the scientific world. Developed economies have seen a surge in their socio-economic advancement due to the uptake of research. In a similar vein, developing economies can only advance when they pay serious attention to the utilisation of scientific research.

Read more here

 
John Anoku is the University of Ghana’s Research Development officer and one of the university’s Research Uptake Communicators.
 
If I can do it you can: A challenge to busy academics 
With limited budgets and big ideas the realities of Research Uptake can often be an uphill battle for a media liaison officer. At Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) the battle has gotten a little easier over the last year thanks to a collaboration with a new platform called The Conversation Africa (TCA). Lauren Kansley discusses TCA and the opportunity it provides to bridge the divide between academics and journalists by making research more understandable and widely published on media platforms.
 
“With the support of our institutional Research Office, my role as a media liaison has enjoyed a surge in interest from researchers and the local press thanks to actively utilising TCA as a tool to accomplish my aims. With its roots in the old Technikon era, CPUT is a young university (only 10 years old). Despite our age we are at the forefront of some of the most exciting research developments on the continent. From putting satellites in space to race cars on the Silverstone racetrack there is no shortage of stimulating projects on the go. Despite this our researchers are reticent to share their work in the mainstream media and seem happy enough to plod along and achieve exceptional results quietly.

TCA has helped me counteract that trend. Academics register on the site and declare their research interest or suggest a topic. They then work closely with an experienced TCA editor to produce a news article which gets published on the site. After that the real magic happens. Thanks to a creative commons licence media houses are invited to lift the copy and republish it. As newsrooms often lack full-time science writers the press are desperate for expert research-driven opinion on topical issues, which is exactly what TCA provides in a neat e-newsletter format directly to inboxes every day. So far 26 CPUT academics have published on the site on topics ranging from the uses of fruit waste to gangs in schools, and, most of these stories have been picked up in the popular press achieving close to R1 million in unpaid for pure editorial coverage for CPUT.

 
Read more here

 
Lauren Kansley is the Cape Peninsula University of Science and Technology’s Media Liaison Officer, a member of the DRUSSA Digest Editorial Board and one of the University’s Research Uptake Communicators
 
2016 DRUSSA Benchmarking Conference
The third DRUSSA Benchmarking and Leadership Conference took place in Mauritius from 25 to 27 April – and, while this may have been the last such Conference the message that rang out from the proceedings was that this did not represent the end of the road. If anything, as one delegate put it, this was only “the end of the beginning”.
 
Prof Romeela Mohee, Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius, opened the Conference with a stirring address that set the tone well for the days ahead. Her message was clear – when universities are able to anticipate policy developments in-country, socio-economic conditions and trends, and shifting community needs, they can better ensure both curriculum relevance and the social utility of their research. This is more than a good thing – this is part of ensuring the indispensability of the university in the long run.

Sustainability was a key theme of the Conference, weaving through each of the sessions and discussions. With all 22 universities having completed the 2016 Benchmarking Survey, there was plenty to inform these discussions – trends in institutional change over the past five years, instances of good practice, remaining challenges and approaches to solving them. Using the survey information, presented by lead author, the ACU’s Emma Falk, delegates broke into regional sessions – West, East and Southern – to use the Benchmarking findings to help answer at least two key questions on sustainability: In further developing our institutional Research Uptake systems, where do we want to be in five years? What tools do we need to get there?

 
Read the full blog here

 
Liam Roberts is the DRUSSA Programme Officer at the ACU
 
From our Tech Guru: Using MailChimp for Research Uptake communication
An important tool for directed Research Communication is email. Mailchimp is an excellent emailing service that allows you to set up multiple subscriber lists and manage mass emailings as well as track usage. Our Tech Guru, Caite McCann, gives us the low down on designing and sending Mailchimp newsletters.
 
The great thing about MailChimp as a place to begin managing your Research Uptake communications is that it has three levels of service and the startup level is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Once your lists start to grow beyond that there are several options for different pay services as well as optional add-ons for monitoring and evaluation the effectiveness of your communication.

Planning your newsletter

MailChimp is easy to setup but making changes can be tricky. It is a generic service, so to use it effectively there are a number of items you need to think about and plan, before you setup your account. Setting up any new account is time consuming and the better you plan beforehand, the easier you will find the process. Don’t forget to make notes of the decisions you make regarding your account setup and customization. This will become part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), or organizational guide, for your institutional MailChimp account.



Read the full blog here which tells you how to prepare your subscription lists, how to prepare your template and how to design your newsletter.

Caite McCann is the Information Systems Manager for OSD and the DRUSSA Programme 

 
DRUSSA Programme Outputs: The Research Communicators Guide
As one of the results of the DRUSSA programme member universities are fully aware that effective Research UptakOver the last five years the DRUSSA Programme has gained a deeper knowledge and understanding of the process of and challenges to institutionalising Research Uptake within universities and more recently with civil servants and policy makers in Ghana and Uganda. As it comes to an end it is important to ensure that the learning of the programme is captured and delivered to participating universities and other institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
 
At the DRUSSA Benchmarking Conference Programme Manager Karrine Sanders listed some of the outputs of the DRUSSA Programme which capture these learnings (link to presentation) and committed to:
• Ensure that the resources that have been developed will continue to benefit partner institutions
• Facilitate their take up by other institutions in Sub Saharan Africa and;
• Extract and disseminate the lessons for future research uptake initiatives.

One of the tools developed during the programme is the Research Communicator Guide which “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 university, the broader society and the researchers themselves.” The guide is a tool for those working in a communication, media or research office at a university (or similar research institution) in Africa as well as researchers who are interested to develop their confidence and skills in communicating their research outside the academic community and engaging public audiences.
 

Karrine Sanders, Programme Manager Association of Commonwealth Universities This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
DRUSSA’s MPhil Graduates

The University of Stellenbosch’s Centre for Research on Evaluation Science and Technology (CREST) has awarded 17 bursaries to post graduate students from the DRUSSA universities. The MPhil in Science and Technology Studies (Specialising in Research Uptake and Utilisation) has been a popular choice, and we are pleased to announce that five students have graduated -Theogene Nyandwi and Samuel Mutarindwa (University of Rwanda), Heather Ndlovu (NUST Zimbabwe), Frederick Owusu-Nimo (KNUST) and Damaris Mbui (University of Nairobi Kenya). 

 
Of course all of the bursary holders focussed their research projects on aspects of Research Uptake, but with varied lenses including the perceptions of university staff to research dissemination, the perceived benefits of academics of the uptake of research and research collaboration (in the context of scientific research often being more visible if it is collaborative).

In the spirit of making research visible and easily understandable, each of the MPhil graduates is now producing a Case Study based on their research. These are being published on on DRUSSA.net as they become available. The first one, by Heather Ndlovu is available here.

All of the DRUSSA bursary holders work fulltime in their university. It is praiseworthy that in addition to the five who have already graduated, the rest will be graduating Mphil in the 2016 academic year, with the PhD bursary holders scheduled to complete in 2017.
 
 
Coming up: Online Science Communication Course at Stellenbosch University
This course is presented by the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University, the home of a DST-NRF Research Chair in Science Communication. Science communication researcher Marina Joubert will present the course, assisted by fellow researchers and experienced science communication practitioners.The course will be presented through the web-based learning management system of Stellenbosch University. Successful participation will require five to six hours per week, adding up to 30 – 36 hours over a period of six weeks. Participants should plan to spend at least another 10 – 15 hours on the final practical assignment. Upon successful completion of the course students will receive a certificate of competence from Stellenbosch University.

The next course kicks off on 1 September 2016 and will run for 12 weeks.

The first six weeks are devoted to thematic content and discussions, followed by 6 weeks for a practical project. The six themes are:
1. Setting the scene: Definitions and rationale
2. Platforms and role players in public science engagement
3. Practical skills for the science communication professional
4. Innovation in science communication: digital engagement and creative approaches
5. Science communication (and public science engagement) as a field of research
6. Global voices and beacons in science communication

The course is 100% online (i.e. there is no need to travel to Stellenbosch) and participants may access course materials and work on the weekly assignments when it is convenient for them. Participants must have access to a reliable and reasonably fast and stable internet connection, in order to be able to download the multimedia components of the class and participate in online forums.

Read more here, or register here
 

 

 
EVENTS
  • 26 July 2016 : DRUSSA Vice Chancellors’ Leadership Seminar,  Accra, Ghana
  • 28 - 30 August 2016  Second EARIMA Conference, Grand Global Hotel Kampala, Uganda
  • 22 - 24 September 2016  EVIDENCE 2016 Conference, CSIR Convention Centre Pretoria, South Africa
  • 14 - 15 December 2016 WARIMA Conference, Banjul the Gambia
 
The DRUSSA Digest | Vol 5 No 1 | May 2016
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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