|Experiences In Research Dissemination With Part-Time Undergraduate Interns In A Resource Challenged Setting|
|Monday, 29 June 2015 09:06|
Sub-Saharan universities recognise the need to establish research management offices but many of these offices are challenged by a lack of resources. Professor Yogi Naik, head of the Research and Innovation Office (RIO) at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe discusses how RIO uses interns to achieve some of the objectives, and outlines some of the remaining challenges for his office.
The Research and Innovation Office (RIO) at NUST was established to manage the research funds of NUST, populate the NUST website’s research page, build capacity through training (for example on proposal writing), publish a monthly research newsletter and develop a research culture at the university. In terms of research dissemination, apart from the newsletter, which profiles academics involved in research, RIO is also responsible for managing and maintaining the research webpage, covering events related to research dissemination, such as expo’s and fairs, and manage the production of the NUST Journal.
Building the Research and Innovation Office Capacity
Given the financial and human resource challenges it is difficult for RIO to expand its staff complement or employ appropriately trained staff. This is compounded by the fact that Prof Naik also needs to teach which reduces the time he can spend on research management and Research Uptake. However because the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences requires its students to spend time gaining practical experience during their final undergraduate years, some of them are interned into RIO and undertake some dissemination work under supervision.
The Faculty of Communication and Information Science has four degrees which relate to the needs of RIO: Journalism and Media Studies, Library and Information Science, Publishing, and Records and Archive Management. Students from each of these faculties provide skills that support the work of RIO:
Of these Prof Naik has found that the Library and Information Science students have the most appropriate background.
Building a Research Uptake Culture
In his presentation and a subsequent interview Prof. Naik outlined some of the remaining challenges for RIO. Firstly there is a need to get researchers to think about Research Uptake at the beginning of the research process. Currently researchers do not do any knowledge translation activities even at the end of the research process. However starting from the 7 July researchers will be requested to include a form outlining their Research Uptake plans in the research process, which will increase awareness of Research Uptake and also help in ensuring that there is more community engagement, especially with policy makers. For the building of a Research Uptake culture Prof. Naik also noted that is important that Research Uptake is championed by senior university staff including the DVC of Academic Affairs and the Heads of Faculty. This is particularly important when dealing with policy-makers.
Expanding Research and Innovation Office
Ms Heather Ndlovu, a Lecturer in the Department of Records and Archives Management from NUST who has completed her DRUSSA sponsored Masters will be seconded to RIO to manage Research Uptake. She will report to the Director of the Research and Innovation Office and will commence her new duties in the last quarter of 2015.
Professor Yogi Naik is Head of the Research and Innovation Office (RIO) at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST)