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23 September 2019
Universities benchmark progress in improving Research Uptake Capacity Print
Friday, 28 March 2014 00:00

The DRUSSA project held the second of three Research Uptake benchmarking events in Cape Town in mid-March 2014.  Diana Coates shares the DRUSSA Universities key insights.

The purpose of the benchmarking series is to provide evidence for universities participating in the project to assess their progress in strengthening their institution’s capacity to realize their mission to provide research evidence that contributes to socio-economic development, in their community, their region, country and in sub-Saharan Africa.   

Benchmarking process

The delegates considered their university’s progress since 2012 across four broad categories: change in policies, strategies and structures; change in systems and processes, changes in external stakeholder engagement; and changes in communicating and publicizing research evidence to the public.

Caption:  University Research Uptake Leaders and Champions report back from workgroups

Marking the changes

In general the universities report that increasing priority is given to engagement with governments and agencies, funders and donors, and the private sector. In 2012 50% of the universities rated this as a high priority. In 2014 this has risen to 72%. As a result universities are investing more in offices that manage research grants.




















Stakeholder collaborations
Another emerging trend is the growing importance of collaborations outside of the higher education sector in particular with communities that are interested in and affected by research. The impetus for this is attributed in part to research funders that take a stakeholder role on behalf of beneficiaries of research evidence – and require that they and the beneficiaries are involved in the entire research cycle.  










Research Uptake communications

Dissemination of research is still dominated by the need to publish for academic readerships. The universities reported increased awareness of the need to reach diverse audiences, but fairly weak capacity to ‘translate’ research for public audiences. The communication and engagement modes that are considered to be most effective in connecting with their publics are physical events, radio and television.  While use of the internet as a communication and engagement platform is unquestionably ubiquitous in many regions of the world, the DRUSSA universities reported that this is not yet the case for them to connect with their publics. The university website is recognized as having great potential, with many Universities only very recently beginning to use the university website to feature research that is being taken up and used to meet societal needs.