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13 December 2017
Mbarara University of Science and Technology’s Approach to integrating Research Uptake into Institutional Infrastructures Print
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 13:08

The Faculty of Medicine at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) was established in October 1989. It is the largest Faculty in the university and currently has 23 departments and 1200 students. The faculty has a strong community oriented research focus and is the first faculty at the university to set up an Office of Research Administration (ORA). This move feeds into the overall university research strategy that recommends establishing similar offices in each faculty and institute as research administration and uptake management is integrated into university structures, including the planned Centralized Institutional Research Innovations and Management Office (CIRIMO).

ORA emerged out of a strategic planning process which was conducted following a situation analysis and consultation with the Deans, Heads of Departments, Faculty, Researchers, Principal Investigators, the MUST Grants Office and other stakeholders in the University community. The core objective was to clarify ORA’s vision, mission, objectives and core values and align its strategy with the Faculty’s vision, mission, and objectives. The result was the development of a strategic direction and a strategic framework for implementing its activities.

Stakeholders were engaged through a participatory process of assessing their current research situation through an analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).  A consideration of the political, economic, social and technological (PEST) factors that affect the external environment for medical research and research administration was also done and strategic choices made in defining the scope of work and strategic areas.

 

Clear Vision, Mission, Objectives and Activities

ORA’s Mission is “To provide a platform to support health sciences research by developing an all-round cadre of health researchers and to generate funds to carry out research which informs education and practice of Health Care Providers”. ORA provides an integrated research support package within four thematic areas namely:

  1. Sustainable infrastructure and facilities;
  2. Researcher support;
  3. Research Collaborations and Partnerships; and
  4. Research Governance and Compliance.
"The strategy is expected to contribute to stable and predictable research funding and support to the researchers to ensure that the research processes are in line with the requirements of the Ugandan national research policy and strategy"

The objectives of the ORA are to:

  1. Build the capacity of researchers, motivate and retain them;
  2. Strengthen the existing collaborations and develop networks to attract more research collaborators and partners; and;
  3. Establish and strengthen governance structures that create an environment conducive to participatory and responsible conduct of research. Included in this area are effective ethics governance and communication of research for uptake and utilization.

The strategy is expected to contribute to stable and predictable research funding and support to the researchers to ensure that the research processes are in line with the requirements of the Ugandan national research policy and strategy.

"Gains have been made in influencing researchers’ decisions about community engagement and research uptake, right from proposal development through to completion of the project"

Achievements thus far

ORA has thus far built capacity for faculty members, researchers and students in proposal development, grant writing, manuscript writing, responsible conduct of research, and preparing poster presentations for dissemination of research findings,through didatic training and research clinics.

From 2012 ORA has been involved with the DRUSSA (Development Research Uptake in sub-Saharan Africa) programme to develop its, and the university’s, capacity to promote the uptake of its research so that it will ultimately be taken up into policy and practice. Gains have been made in influencing researchers’ decisions about community engagement and research uptake, right from proposal development through to completion of the project.

A number of senior university managers, ORA staff and interested researchers have participated in DRUSSA sponsored post-graduate degree and in-service training activities that have consolidated the integration of Research Uptake into research management and administration.

Because ORA has had the capacity and experience it has been deeply involved inthe development of MUST’S institutional policy documents including the Research, Innovations, Management and Uptake Policy document, the Grants Management Manual and the Centralized Institutional Research Innovations and Management Office (CIRIMO) strategic plan.

 

Acknowledgment: The ORA Strategic process described here was supported by the MESAU‐MEPI iRIM Supplement Award Number R24TW008886 from the Fogarty International Center.


Edith Wakida, Research Manager, ORA Mbarara University of Science and Technology, ediwakida@must.ac.ug/orachs@must.ac.ug

Amos Baryashaba, Head, Computing Services, Mbarara University of Science and Technology

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