|Understanding the context for Research Uptake in Zambia|
|Thursday, 12 May 2016 15:29|
At the recent Research Communications workshop held in Johannesburg early in April 2016, we caught up with Felicitas Moyo, who is a University of Zambia DRUSSA team member, and who is currently conducting research about research impact in Zambia, as part of her DRUSSA sponsored studies at CREST. She spoke to us briefly about her research topic as well as Research Uptake activities at the university.
In a previous blog the University of Zambia outlined some of its Research Uptake activities. Research Uptake is supported by the Division in the Directorate of Research Studies and although Ms Moyo spends much of her time lecturing in Social Development Studies she does have some time allocated to Research Uptake. Despite working on RU part-time she is spearheading the RU process, which is made easier by the support oshe gets from the Directorate as well as the Deputy VC and VC. Her work is also made easier by the fact that she has been based in the Research Directorate previously so knows how they work.
In fact the university has a long history of conducting research for uptake. Initially this was based in the Livingstone Institute established in 1938, which was set up with the primary purpose of conducting research for uptake. It has since changed its focus to consulting work and was renamed the Institute or Economic and Social Research.
Understanding the context
Research and its uptake by stakeholders, and hopefully consequent influence, takes place in a broader context – not just the university context, or the political context but also in the context of higher education institutes in the country. Ms Moyo is currently conducting research for her Phd at CREST on the topic “The state of Social Science Research for policy Utilization in Zambia” which explores this wider environment in which the University of Zambia is situated. Her study will provide an overview of the historical context in which academic institutions in Zambia operate as well as some of the current challenges, including the brain drain, for example, as well as funding.
Her research will also assist her work in RU as it has involved surveying all journals written in Zambia and documenting the outputs using the Thompson Reuters academic databases. In addition she is conducting a survey of key researchers in Zambia (based on those found in the academic databases) finding out what they have published and where. Researchers are also being asked if they can identify the impact of their research in the policy arena. This will serve as a baseline for future RU work.
Working with the Media
One area that the University of Zambia Research Uptake team have been focusing on are media briefings where media are invited and researchers are asked to showcase their research. The media are given time to ask questions and this gives the university free coverage of the events. They have held two so far and plan to make this an annual event. The VC and/or DVC officially open and close these sessions, giving them more status.
Felicitas Moyo is a DRUSSA bursary-holder completing her PhD in Science and Technology Studies, and a University of Zambia Research Uptake Communicator.