|Communication Strategy to Strengthen Uptake of Research and Innovation|
|Monday, 07 March 2016 09:27|
The premise behind the Makerere University Research and Innovations Communication Strategy was the realisation that there was a missing link in the various ‘research policies’ at Makerere University. The policies did not clearly stipulate the linkages between knowledge production and knowledge use. The RIC Strategy sets out the framework for systematically communicating and disseminating Makerere’s robust research output so as to enhance its uptake by various end users.
It is important to note, that the RIC Strategy was not developed as a stand-alone framework but was informed by the other research related policies. The Makerere University Strategic Plan 2008/09-2018/19 aims at providing innovative teaching, learning, research and services responsive to national and global needs. One of the key focus areas of the Plan is Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Networking. The Plan recognises that knowledge production and transfer as crucial elements in Research.
The RIC Strategy is also premised on the Makerere Research and Innovations Policy (2008) whose overall aim is to strengthen research capacity and output, and increase the Makerere’s contribution to the world of knowledge and innovation.
The Intellectual Property Management (IPM) Policy (2008) also informs the RIC Strategy. One of the objectives of the IPM is to support and promote innovative ideas that can be transformed into useful products for the public good.
The Makerere University Communication Policy (2013) also informs the Strategy especially when it comes to the dissemination of research and innovation outputs.
The RIC Strategy provides an overall framework within which the communication and dissemination aspects of all these policies can be placed. This highlights the various opportunities and challenges in managing, coordinating and disseminating research and innovation outputs and provides an enabling environment in which to implement the University’s research agenda.
A Collective Effort
The RIC Strategy implementation framework spells out the roles of the various communication actors and the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training plays a pivotal role in this. Other actors include the Public Relations Office, the Directorate of Information and Communications and the Marketing Unit. In order to create synergy it is important for these actors to systematically work in consultation with each other. Plans are underway to constitute a Communications Committee to oversee implementation of the Strategy and the various units will be represented on the committee.
Making it work
For effective implementation it is important to carry out a massive awareness campaign across the University about the strategy. In addition to posting it on the University website there will be deliberate and sustained actions to make it known to the research community. Short-form versions of the Strategy in form of fliers and brochures are to be produced. Regular monitoring of strategy implementation will be undertaken by the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training. The DRGT will periodically conduct a research uptake audit and document key research uptake through the most effective communication channels. In order to incentivize staff, a reward system for outstanding research that has been taken up by Makerere’s stakeholders could also be of help.
Susan Mbabazi is the Assistant Registrar in the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training at Makerere University