|Developing a Research Uptake Culture|
|Wednesday, 15 April 2015 06:28|
One of the challenges for communications practitioners is ensuring that they are alerted to quality and relevant research by the researchers themselves. Candes Keating interviews the Cape Peninsula of Technologies (CPUT) DRUSSA Champion and Deputy VC for Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, Dr Chris Nhlapo, about 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 support uptake. However, this has now changed and we are working within an overarching strategy,”
The strategy provides a framework that will foster research uptake, with key programmatic support in areas such as funding, capacity building, technology transfer and science communication and is being driven by Dr Nhlapo to ensure a changing culture of research practice so that research uptake becomes the norm.
Nhlapo says that to to ensure that Research Uptake becomes an integral part of research activity, the institution is developing the capacity of researchers to plan for Research Uptake in their projects, from the conceptualisation phase right up until the Research Uptake process.
“We require more awareness, and skilling of researchers, for example on participatory research methods, stakeholder engagement etc,” he says.
“As soon as we have this fully implemented, we will be able to identify projects with good research uptake potential at the point of project inception. To this end we have agreed that we will amend our funding policy, so that all CPUT funded-research will require a Research Uptake plan as part of a research proposal. We will also encourage this practice where projects are funded externally”
The institution has also established the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), which offers a suite of support services to researchers, ranging from helping individuals to go beyond publication and into commercialisation through technology innovation.
“This occurs through both Intellectual Property scouting from the TTO side, as well awareness campaigns which are aimed to conscientise researchers to identify technology transfer potential of their research as early as possible,” says Nhlapo.
In addition, CPUT researchers are also being trained in Science Communication that will ensure targeted messaging to segmented audiences, which in turn will support CPUT’s Research Uptake objectives.
The Way Ahead
“We have a natural inclination for uptake from a Technology-Innovation perspective, and to this end, we have had a good measure of success,” says Nhlapo.
The institution plans to measure the impact of its research and related forms of knowledge output in this area through the development of a coherent framework of bibliometric and other indicators.
“We are of the view that knowledge output in a typical University of Technology is in a different mould to that of traditional universities, and therefore we will seek to measure our impact with this indicator set. This exercise is in its early stage of inception,” he says.
Nhlapo says the future of research uptake at CPUT is bright.
“It is an element of our strategic aim to ensure the uptake of our research and this is evidenced in our long term vision for Research and Innovation at CPUT: “Unlocking the potential of staff, students and partners to excel in research, technology and innovation that offer solutions to the needs of society.”
Candes Keating, Communication Officer, Marketing & Communication Department, Cape Peninsula University of Technology