|Talking about Research Uptake at Kenyatta University|
|Tuesday, 17 May 2016 12:15|
Sweeney Violet Tindi, administrator in the Division of Research Innovation and Outreach (RIO) at Kenyatta University (KU), and one of the University’s Research Uptake Communicators interviews the Registrar, Prof. Vincent Onywera, to talk about Research Uptake at the university, focussing on the role of RIO and the institutional mechanisms that have been put in place at KU to support Research Uptake.
What Policies or Strategies are in place that support Research Uptake?
The University has over the years transformed and enhanced its research culture with a great understanding of research’s contribution to economic, social and cultural development and environmental sustainability. The creation of the Division of Research, Innovation and Outreach has provided research and its entire span and cycle of activities prominence within the University’s strategies. The Division is supported by two centres, one of which is the Centre for Research Support and Dissemination which is tasked with, among other things, strengthening Research Uptake.
The revised Research Policy is another key document which will be crucial in guiding research and uptake activities. It is aligned with the University’s 2016-2026 Strategic and Vision plan as well as the country’s Vision 2030. It is currently in the final stages of review and approval.
The University has slotted workshops/seminars in its almanac to provide researchers with a forum to share and disseminate their findings. Stakeholders and partners are invited to these forums with the aim of encouraging uptake of findings that would improve existing national policies and provide new insights and solutions to the challenges.
The University conducts training/capacity building sessions emphasizing the importance of including uptake activities in proposal development to ensure research has a clear roadmap to dissemination. Plans are underway to provide science communication training to help researchers to demystify their findings and to encourage visibility and uptake. This information is also available on the Divisions webpage.
The creation of the research webpage as well as social media platforms dedicated to research activities have enabled the university to reach a wide range of audiences and showcase research taking place within the University.
What are the University's Key Dissemination Tools?
Publications – researchers have been provided with database of refereed journals where they can publish their academic articles.
Workshops/Conferences/Seminars– theseare organized at the school and departmental level throughout the year where researchers share their findings. These forums inform stakeholders, partners and peers on what research has/is currently taking place and has potential to influence policy and also to solicit for help in pushing viable projects to the communities.
University Publications and Newsletters- the university produces various articles to highlight activities and innovations taking place within the university. These are shared with the university community as well as the public.
The University also takes advantage of Exhibitions organized by various agencies to showcase innovations, research activities, and to share experiences in terms of some of the benefits realized from research initiatives.
What has changed during the period of the DRUSSA programme?
Research was initially confined within the University walls, rarely would the public or stakeholders know what kind of research had or was taking place. Publications that resulted from such research were sent to the library and were full of scientific jargon nature. This has however significantly changed; the public and various stakeholders have access to information on what kind of research has/is taking place by the click of a button. Information on research projects over the last five years and publications that emerged from this research are available on the Division’s webpage. The creation of the social media platforms and our online chat platform are avenues that the University has availed to increase engagement.
Conference/seminars/workshops are planned annually for the university calendar, and members of staff are facilitated and supported to attend local/international workshops to share their work.
Capacity building in research including uptake and science communication is conducted to enable researchers to simplify their findings to engage the public and communicate more effectively. Furthermore, in the last cycle of research funding under the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Grant fund, Research Uptake was featured as a thematic area. These are but a few of the changes in place.
Who are the Key Target Audiences?
Target audiences vary with each research project, but in general they include communities, government Ministries, County governments and key plicy influencers, fellow researchers, funders and industry players.
Which are the Key Units/Departments at KU involved in RU activities in support of the faculties?
The key unit is the Division of Research, Innovation and Outreach and its supporting units which include the Centre for Research Support and Dissemination and the Research Monitoring and Budget Centre. It works closely with:
Sweeney Violet Tindi is and administrator in the Division of Research Innovation and Outreach and one of the University’s Research Uptake Communicators