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16 July 2019
Network News | Vol 1 No 1 | June 2012

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In this edition of DRUSSA Network News:
1. Who are we and what are we trying to achieve?
2. The story so far: The DRUSSA programme
3. All set to launch: June in Johannesburg
4. The role of universities: Report-back from INORMS 2012
5. Development research and uptake: In search of better governance
6. It started in Africa: Local solutions for local problems in Uganda


In this first edition of DRUSSA Network News, we introduce ourselves and bring you up to speed with the objectives of the DRUSSA programme. DRUSSA Network News is distributed quarterly and aims to build awareness of Research Uptake (or "knowledge translation" to get research into use).


With the official DRUSSA launch set for later this month, we give you some background to this event. Then we get to the heart of DRUSSA`s aims with three important pieces, the first a report-back on DRUSSA`s participation at the recent INORMS conference and the second on research and research uptake. Finally, we take a look at an instance of research changing practices in Uganda.


Who are we and what are we trying to achieve?


DRUSSA is a five-year capacity-building programme for Sub-Saharan African researchers, research and publicity managers, extension officers, communication practitioners and knowledge intermediaries and users of research evidence. The programme is funded by UKAid.

... Our aim is ... [to] stimulate interest among a wider group of universities in the region
Our aim is to strengthen the capacity to manage research uptake, primarily in the 24 universities that have been selected as a demonstration group, while at the same time stimulating interest among a wider group of universities and research institutions in the region.
We have established that the region`s research universities are well placed to work with national and regional stakeholders, but currently this is either not happening, or it`s happening in too limited a fashion. Not enough research translates into action.


The DRUSSA programme is led by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) in the UK. The other two partners are the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Stellenbosch, and Organisation Systems Design (OSD), both in South Africa.


Read more about the programme structure and each partner’s role below in The story so far.



The story so far: DRUSSA programme
Each quarter, Network News will feature and comment on some of the activities of the DRUSSA team, participating universities and knowledge producers and intermediaries elsewhere.

The programme is structured into four work packages:

-- Work Programme 1 (WP1) is led by CREST and focuses on strengthening the capacity of individuals at universities to be Research Uptake Managers.

-- Work Programme 2 (WP2) is led by the ACU. It focuses on facilitating the participant universities' efforts to strengthen and align the institutional structures for Research Uptake Management.

-- Work Programme 3 (WP3) is also led by CREST and it will provide the research background.

-- Work Programme 4 (WP4) is led by OSD and its foci are to support communication and knowledge sharing between and within the universities, as well as engaging with knowledge producers, intermediaries and users in the region and globally.
Work Programme 1: Strengthening individual Research Uptake Management capacity
Demand for formal qualifications in the management of Research Uptake is high. The need is particularly great for continuing professional development (CPD) qualifications that can be undertaken with minimal disruption and time away from work.

We will offer a number of post-graduate-level, accredited short courses in the management of Research Uptake and Utilisation over the next five years. The first two short courses, "Science utilisation and impact" and "Science communication", will be presented in September/October 2012. The CPD courses will be offered in three regions: Southern Africa (Stellenbosch), East Africa (Nairobi) and West Africa (Accra).

A Master’s programme in Research Uptake and Impact Assessment is also being designed, with the first intake at the University of Stellenbosch set for 2013.
Work Programme 2: Strengthening institutional Research Uptake Management capacity

The ACU has the task of facilitating strengthened institutional capacity for Research Uptake Management in participant universities. We`re pleased to be able to bring our experience in studying research management systems to bear in this critical new area of the research management process and will identify models of engagement to get research into use.

This entails working with the DRUSSA participants to promote the development of Research Uptake Management policy and structures that institutionalise good practice. Through providing comparative frameworks that allow members to analyse different Research Uptake Management policies at institutions worldwide, participant universities -- and going forward also the DRUSSA Network institutions -- will be better able to consider which practices might be useful or adaptable in their own contexts.
Work Programme 3: Literature review and case study work
A literature review on knowledge utilisation and Research Uptake is underway. Among other aspects, the literature review will highlight different perspectives and models of knowledge utilisation as well as different approaches to facilitate such utilisation. Some of the perspectives emerging from the literature are:  

(1) the two-communities perspective, where the scientific and user domains are seen as culturally different with obvious implications for Research Uptake by non-scientists;
(2) knowledge/technology transfer perspectives, whereby the movement of knowledge is depicted from a starting location to an ending location, requiring an understanding of different transfer elements (e.g. transfer media and transfer agents);
(3) knowledge use perspectives, where interpretations of what constitutes "use" can refer to either a typology or set of stages;
(4) knowledge diffusion perspectives, where the focus is on the spread of knowledge and knowledge-based products within networks of people; and
(5) knowledge translation perspectives, based on models of planned Research Uptake to move knowledge into action. This involves evidence synthesis and the facilitation of exchange relationships between researchers and users.

The literature review will inform a number of case studies of Research Uptake, still to be identified and selected in collaboration with representatives from the 24 DRUSSA universities. We are currently developing a case study framework, drawing on what we have learned from the literature review.
Work Programme 4: Engaging our audiences
DRUSSA Online went live in May and with it an innovation that places it at the cutting edge of technology, not only in Africa, but worldwide. Aside from our simple blogsite and database, DRUSSA Online features an app that allows a specially tailored version of the site to be accessed online as well as offline, from your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

We needed a way to communicate effectively with our various audiences. Digital communication was the obvious answer, but low bandwidth and intermittent connectivity experienced in some parts of Africa presented a problem. That`s when tech-savvy Caite McCann of the WP4 team came up with the idea of an app. What followed were brainstorming sessions and many hours of development, the result of which is what you see when you log on to
"In searching for an off-the-shelf mobile phone application that could be adapted for use in an academic environment, we couldn`t find anything suitable, anywhere in the world," DRUSSA Online developer Dave Perlman says. "This is a first as far as the use of web app technology goes in the academic sphere."

The DRUSSA App provides a friendly, informal shared environment for the Network. Be sure to go there regularly to share your thoughts and insights. Go to the app at on your mobile, tablet, desktop or laptop. Or click on the blue DRUSSA App banner at the top of the right-hand sidebar at
All set to launch: June in Johannesburg

Protea Hotel Wanderers where 
delegates will stay

DRUSSA is currently preparing for its official launch event. Set to be held at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg from 18 to 21 June, DRUSSA will convene representatives from the programme`s 24 Sub-Saharan African member universities attending. University leaders will participate in sessions designed to draw out key themes and clarify key questions pertaining to getting development research taken up by policymakers and practitioners. They will also identify some useful models for future action.

The event will include keynote talks by leaders of the DRUSSA programme: Dr John Kirkland, Deputy Secretary General of the ACU; Diana Coates, Director of OSD; and Prof Johann Mouton, Director of CREST.

There will be presentations and case studies, highlighting examples of Research Uptake that have worked well. Discussions will be held on how those models might be adapted to different institutional and national contexts. Comparing existing practices and benchmarking specific milestones and innovations will also feature, as delegates investigate how they can strengthen their own Research Uptake Management structures and bolster their capacity for getting development research into use.

More about the DRUSSA launch here.


Introducing Research Uptake Management: Report-back from INORMS 2012
INORMS is an umbrella body for research management associations. Mooted in the early 2000s, four conferences have now been held. More than 400 research managers attended the latest, in Copenhagen, in May, more than 40 of whom were from Africa. The next will be held in Washington DC in April 2014.
INORMS's goal is to have research management recognised as a professional career path. Its core membership is located in universities around the world, and the increasingly complex collaborative arrangements between these universities have to be managed. Globalisation of research is an important issue; in the African context, where research provides evidence for solutions to severe and endemic problems linked to poverty, it is especially important that universities are able to manage the ways in which research evidence is made available to the public and to policymakers.
Diana Coates is the Executive Director of OSD
DRUSSA`s presentation at INORMS 2012 outlined the importance of managing the translation and dissemination of research for uptake by universities` stakeholders, and also to fulfil their own mission to contribute to social and economic development. More about DRUSSA at INORMS 2012.

Development research and uptake: In search of better governance
Dr Sara Grobbelaar is a researcher at CREST
Development research aims to inform evidence-based policymaking and engage society to ensure accountable government. By providing scientifically validated evidence, researchers aim to influence policymakers to adopt policies that will unlock economic development potential. And discovering new options for growth and finding new pathways towards achieving equity can empower the marginalised. In other words, as Fred Carden says, development research has better governance as its goal.
The mechanisms through which development research may achieve its goals depend on a complex dynamic between the demand and supply sides of the equation. Demand for new knowledge is influenced by policy or the political setting that shapes constraints and opportunities for researchers to influence policymaking.
On the supply side, the very process of research, discovery of new policy choices and framing new policy questions, or the reframing of familiar problems, provides new solutions to development issues. Through fruitful interchange, researchers and policymakers both benefit. Research findings can have real benefit for society, while policymakers are presented with a supply of evidence-based options to react in timely fashion and be more responsive to policy problems. More about Development research and uptake.
Development research has better governance as its goal
It started in Africa: Local solutions for local problems in Uganda
Like most African countries, Uganda has its fair share of social problems, one of which is an alarming dropout rate among school pupils. A 2010 UNESCO study found that despite the country`s Universal Primary Education policy, which has seen many more children entering school since its introduction in the late 1990s, the dropout rate was the highest in East Africa, ahead of Kenya and Rwanda.
Of particular concern are girls dropping out of school, since the education of girls is considered central to breaking Africa`s cycle of poverty. (See the World Bank`s 2012 Gender Equality and Development Report.)

Linda Cilliers is an Online Media Specialist at OSD

A study done on behalf of the Ugandan government, funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and UNICEF, lists the biggest reason for girls leaving school as pregnancy and early marriage (41.5%). The second most common reason why girls leave school is lack of money for school fees (26.9%). Lower on the list is poor sanitation.

Carried out by the Child Health and Development Centre at Makerere University, the “Sanitation and Hygiene in Primary Schools in Uganda” study bears this out: “Primary schools offer inadequate privacy and cleanliness of toilet facilities and washrooms are ill-equipped for use by female pupils/students. Facilities for proper means of disposal of used (sanitary) pads are missing and this does not prepare girls for proper use of these facilities.”

Enter inventor and entrepreneur Dr Moses Kizza Musaazi -- a shining example of just how innovative and sustainable homegrown African solutions can be. More about Dr Musaazi's solutions.



248 days since programme lauch | 1,578 days until programme completion