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13 December 2017
The DRUSSA Digest | Vol 3 No 4 | Jan 2015
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The DRUSSA Digest is published online at Drussa.net and distributed electronically, four times a year. The Digest features articles about Research Uptake and Research Uptake Management (RUM) with a strong emphasis on the accomplishments of the DRUSSA universities, and the progress of the project. Please do forward this eDigest to your colleagues and suggest that they register as members of the DRUSSA Network.
 
In this edition of the DRUSSA DIGEST

Welcome to the first DRUSSA Digest of 2015! This issue features articles about the work that the DRUSSA team is implementing with the DRUSSA community on the supply and demand sides of Research Uptake (i.e. getting research into use). By the supply side we mean the Universities, while the demand side refers to Ministries or policy influencers.

 

To this end,

  • Liam Roberts reflects on the interesting DRUSSA Universities’ workshop held in Cape Town in December 2014, and,
  • Dr Tomas Harber explains the approach being taken with the new, fifth element of the DRUSSA programme – an innovative pilot project with Ministries in Uganda and Ghana.

 

Research Uptake communicators in the DRUSSA universities are coming into their own. We feature two fascinating articles in this issue that discuss different approaches to communicating for Research Uptake, and give you a heads up on more to come.

 

  • An article by Barbara Manning of the University of Fort Hare, South Africa, introduces us to a project still in it’s early stages that crowdsources city citizens to use phone technology to report on potential public-safety issues that they come across in the course of their daily lives. In the long term, analysed data from this project could influence the direction of priorities and policies relating to public safety.
  • Another feature by Adeola Funmilayo Oladeji of University of Ibadan in Nigeria discusses how they used a range of communications methods to enhance the Research Uptake of an innovative food-security project using integrated crop-aquaculture-livestock production systems. These involved both resource-poor farmers and other stakeholders such as farmers’ associations, government institutions and agro-allied services’ agencies.

A blog series on gender-related development research in and from SSA began this week, with each of the contributions from Research Uptake communicators at different DRUSSA Universities. In each case the Research Uptake communicator worked with the researcher to communicate published, peer-reviewed research in a way that makes it a good, interesting read for a University website audience. The Research Uptake communicators all participated in the RUC2014 skills coaching activity convened by Louise McCann.

 

The final article in Dr Sara Grobbelaar's four-part series on Research Uptake policy is featured in this edition.

 

And, to make sure you’re up to speed with really worthwhile information, we remind you about useful articles you may have missed and alert you to upcoming internal DRUSSA events, conferences planned by the regional research and innovation associations (RIMAs), CARIMA, SARIMA, EARIMA and WARIMA and one of the big events of the year, the ACU SARIMA conference in Johannesburg in May, at which the big global challenges for Research and Innovation will be debated.

 
 
 
We hope you find this an interesting read. Please do follow the links to the full blogs on www.drussa.net, and add any feedback or comments to particular features there. If you have any suggestions or feedback we would love to hear from you. Please email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
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DRUSSA's Strategic Institutional Progress Workshop
By Liam Roberts
 
The DRUSSA Strategic Institutional Progress event held in Cape Town in December was a fitting way to wrap up 2014. On the one hand, the event provided the opportunity to reflect on the year that had been, and the distance that universities have travelled so far in strengthening their Research Uptake (RU) systems and Research Uptake Management (RUM) capacity. But it was also an important opportunity to plan for the year ahead – applying the lessons learned to the design of new activities and initiatives.
 
The three day event involved Leaders and Champions from 17 of the 22 universities in the DRUSSA community. The event focused chiefly on two connecting themes: first, developing the strategies and policies needed to institutionalise RU more fully; and second, designing systems for Research Assessment and Impact to evaluate how research findings are generating impact, both inside the university and in wider society as well.
 
In the penultimate year of the five-year DRUSSA programme, the main goal for 2015 is to continue working in the universities to embed RU successes into institutional systems even more deeply. Sharing learning across the community (in strategy, planning and M&E) will be a key part to this continuing process – and the Cape Town event surely got us off on the right foot for the year to come.
 
Read more here

Liam Roberts ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) is a Programme Officer (Policy) at the Association of Commonwealth Universities

 
DRUSSA - Linking Researchers and Policymakers in Ghana and Uganda

By Dr Tomas Harber

 
DRUSSA has been working with academic institutions and government departments in Ghana and Uganda in order to link the supply and demand side of Research Uptake. This is being done through symposia, professional development courses and a policy fellowship scheme, which places academics in government departments, allowing in-house government access to research expertise.
 
African universities contribute to the development research evidence base to address specific development challenges and support domestic demand for better, stronger and contextualised evidence. Yet all too frequently, quality research is insulated from potential research users by a combination of practical, procedural and capacity impediments, not least of which is the formalization of information pathways between research producers and users of research evidence.
 
With DRUSSA partners, STEPRI in Ghana and UNCST in Uganda, the project is delivering a series of three interactive and mutually reinforcing activities to address identified capacity needs. The first of these activities started in late 2014 and is specifically designed to foster dialogue and links between senior policymakers and senior academics. It consists of a series of policy symposia in Ghana and Uganda in which policymakers from the respective Ministries are matched with academics with relevant research expertise, to discuss evidence-informed policy approaches to key development issues.
 
Read more about this project here
Dr Tomas Harber is a DRUSSA Programme Coordinator, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).
 
Public Engagement: Crowdsourcing for safer, smarter cities
By Barbara Manning
 
In a project aimed at researching the potential to enhance public safety in urban areas, the University of Fort Hare (UFH) launched a research project that uses citizen participation and technology to gather data on public-safety issues in East London, a city on the south-eastern seaboard of South Africa.
 
The Public Safety Smart City Project is a research project jointly undertaken by UFH and technology innovation company, IBM. While still in its early stages, the long-term developmental objective of the project – lead by Prof. Stephen Flowerday of the Department of Information Systems in the Faculty of Management – is to contribute towards improving the daily lives of the city’s residents, and to assist with the management of an influx of people to East London, which is expected to continue until 2050.
 
Potentially, this participatory crowdsourcing model could be used to generate useful data on anything from say transport, natural disasters caused by global warming and climate change, to health and even energy or electricity usage. By contributing data via mobile phones citizens are able to influence the direction of priorities and policies related to public safety.
 
Read the full story here
Barbara Manning is a Communications Consultant at the University of Fort Hare and a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Board This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Public Engagement: Sustainable Integrated Pond Based Aquaculture in Nigeria
By Adeola Funmilayo Oladeji
 
Engagement activities linked to a research project at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria keep it real by using a range of communication methods to both involve resource-poor farmers, and to create awareness of this innovative food-security project so as to enhance Research Uptake.
 
The major aim of this three-year regional project, which began in 2014 and runs to 2016, is to test, demonstrate and train farmers in techniques that improve integrated crop-aquaculture-livestock production systems in Nigeria and subsequent up-scaling and out-scaling to other countries in the West and Central Africa sub-region by 2016.
 
In order to achieve its objective of improving Sustainable Integrated Aquaculture Systems, significant time has been spent raising awareness amongst not only farmers, but also other stakeholders such as farmers’ associations, government institutions and agro-allied services’ agencies. This has been achieved through the production of training manuals, media reviews and CD publications of the project activities. In fact in addition to raising awareness the project has been able to create linkages and means of interaction among these target audiences through the creation of an innovation platform using the principle of Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D).
 
Read the full article here
Adeola Funmilayo Oladeji is the Information Officer at the Postgraduate School, University of Ibadan and a member of the DRUSSA Editorial Board
 

Part 4: Research Uptake Policy series: Towards synthesised theories of policy change
By Dr Sara Grobbelaar
 
So far in this four-part series I have looked at Tensions between researchers, policy makers and politiciansMeta analysis of knowledge to policy and  Key heuristics, metaphors, theories and frameworks. In this final article I look at synthesising theories of policy change and why this may be an important step towards developing a robust theory of policy change in Sub-Saharan Africa.
 
Understanding the context
In order to understand how knowledge producers can better support the policymaking process it's important to understand the process of policy development and change, which in turn makes it essential to have robust theories of policy change. This series has focused on reviewing a variety of theories and comparing their usefulness and limitations.
 
Developing a Theory for Sub-Saharan Africa
In developing a synthesised theory for the the Sub-Saharan context we need to consider a number of different (but sometimes overlapping) questions:
 
  • What are the shortcomings of existing theories and models of policy change when applied in low and middle income contexts?
  • To what extent have authors applied or synthesised theories of the policy process to explain policy change in low and middle-income countries?
  • What is the role of research and knowledge in these theories of policy change?
  • How do governments identify a need for policy development or change, how and why do they decide on a certain outcome and how do they decide how to implement the policy?
  • How can we develop more effective systems of linkages between policy development and implementation actors, while at the same time supporting a learning approach?
 
By looking at the theoretical paradigms covered in this series, and comparing them in the context of the questions above, it would be possible to develop an over-arching framework for understanding the policy making process in Sub-Saharan Africa.
 
The full chapter on which this series is based can be found here.
Dr Sara Grobbelaar is a Senior Researcher CREST, Stellenbosch Universityand member of the DRUSSA Editorial Board
 
Why RUC 2014’s Research Uptake has a gender theme
By Louise McCann
 
In the March 2014 review of the Research Uptake Communications [RUC2013] Campaign the DRUSSA Universities suggested that the RUC2014 campaign have a theme. ‘Gender’ was one of the themes suggested, and was deemed an appropriate choice for a range of reasons, including that it correlated with an aspect of DRUSSA’s funder DFID’s mission statement, namely ‘to end “the need for aid by… unlocking the potential of girls and women”.
 
As with all of DRUSSA’s RUC campaigns (2013, 2014, and 2015 and 2016 in the planning stages) University strategic leadership was involved in making key pre-campaign strategic decisions. In 2014 they nominated a Research Uptake Communications professional within the university to work through a coach-facilitated exercise to strengthen their RUC skills while building their University’s Research Uptake Communications portfolio
 
Together, the University leadership and RUC professional selected a piece of development research that tied in with the gender theme, and that had already been peer reviewed and published in an academic journal.
 
The RUC professional and researcher worked together to produce useable pieces of communication material for different audiences. These include website articles, which will be published on the Research Uptake pages of their University websites. The list of website article topics that have come out of the RUC2014 Campaign provide a fascinating glimpse into gender-related development research in and from SSA. We look forward to sharing the articles with you in a blog series that began this week. You can see the first of the series, from the University of Nairobi here, and read more about the series here.
Louise McCann is a consultant to the DRUSSA project, and the RUC2013 and RUC2014 coach.
 
In Case You Missed This
 
The main focus of the DRUSSA blogsite is to keep you up to date with DRUSSA Universities Research Uptake activities as well as the DRUSSA Programme activities. For example in the last couple of months we have profiled research papers from CREST, including one on Stakeholder Engagement by Dr Sara Grobbelaar and the other on Science Communication by Marina Joubert.
 

And in the rushed period before year-end you may have missed reading our e-Alert  in which we featured more about the DRUSSA workshop in Cape Town in December 2014. 

 
Follow us Facebook and Twitter for news of publications on the DRUSSA.net site.
 
 DRUSSA Round-Up: a digital magazine of curated Research Uptake articles 
 
If you don't already regularly visit DRUSSA Round-Up: Research Uptake on the right hand side of DRUSSA.net's home page, then you don't know what you're missing. Editor Alison Bullen keeps her finger on the pulse of who's publishing what in the Research Uptake world, and, to make sure that you reap the benefits of her online research and presence, she curates DRUSSA's free digital magazine 'DRUSSA Round-Up: Research Uptake', using Scoop.It! 
 
A mouseclick on the DRUSSA Round-Up: Research Uptake link will open up Alison's curated collection of articles that contribute interesting elements to the Research Uptake conversation. Even better, it's really simple to quickly browse through this digi-mag and get snapshot views of different Research Uptake articles from around the globe, before deciding which ones you'd like to read in depth.
 
A quick glance through DRUSSA Round-Up shows that articles currently featured in the digi-mag include: 'Rapid growth in university engagement worldwide'; 'Bringing African universities to farmers', 'The messiness inherent to policymaking is a real challenge - can evidence alone outshine tribal instincts?', 'Bottom-up citizen science projects could challenge authority of orthodox science through community-led investigations', and 'Are we miscommunicating gender in science?' to name a few. There's plenty of good reading fodder there, not so?
 
With plenty of interesting ideas, publications, tools and tips and events about Research Uptake and related fields out there, the amount of information about publishing, policy briefs, peer review, using social media, and suggestions for researchers working with journalists and science communicators is phenomenal and difficult to keep up with. DRUSSA Round-Up: Research Uptake' is there to give you the quick, easy, curated version of new and interesting articles from across the web, all in one place, making it easier for you to keep up to date. See you there!
 
DRUSSA's Round-Up: Research Uptake can be found on the DRUSSA.net home-page
 
Events
  • 30 – 31 March 2015 (tbc) DRUSSA Universities Communications Group Training Event
  • 26 – 28 March 2015 CARIMA Annual Conference, Equatorial Guinea  
  • 10 – 14 May 2015 ACU/Sarima Conference, Johannesburg South Africa
  • 10 May 2015 DRUSSA Vice Chancellors Symposium, Johannesburg South Africa
  • 7- 8 September 2015 DRUSSA All Universities Symposium Oxford, United Kingdom
 
The DRUSSA Digest | Vol 3 No 4 | Jan 2015
DRUSSA Network News is published quarterly. It is available on the DRUSSA blogsite, the DRUSSA App(register here to get the app) and via email (if you`re registered on the DRUSSA Network).
 
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