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18 August 2017
The DRUSSA Digest | Vol 4 No 2 | July 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.

Editorial
 
For four years the DRUSSA universities have been working on strengthening and institutionalising their Research Uptake capacity in order to raise awareness and use of the results of their research. At the recent meeting of DRUSSA Vice-Chancellors in held Johannesburg they endorsed the importance of having trained researchers and research administrators to prepare, demonstrate, communicate and disseminate research evidence to key audiences: the research subjects, communities in which the research was carried out, businesses, local civil society and governmental bodies, national ministries, and continental and international development agencies.     
Universities worldwide are grappling with the demand that they demonstrate that research done in their universities does have societal impact.  It is no easy matter to convey the results of academic research and its evidence base in plain language and accessible formats. The coaching available for universities in the annual DRUSSA Research Uptake Communications (RUC) exercise has been an experiential approach to experimenting and practicing with management processes and upskilling of individuals with the purpose of building a RUC team.
In stories from the universities we feature examples of what is working and what sorts of challenges are still to be faced; there are some features that are common across the universities, and there are also significant differences. Common to all the universities is the imperative to be meaningful roleplayers in contributing to their county’s National Development Plan. One way to do this is to have the capacity to address the needs of local communities, another is to directly engage with policymakers.
The DRUSSA programme addresses the supply-side element in its 22 universities, but more recently has initiated a pilot to address the demand-side. In Ghana and Uganda academics have been appointed as Fellows to work with political leaders and civil servants in selected ministries.

 
 
We hope you find this an interesting read. Please do follow the links to the full blog version of each article on www.drussa.net for more interesting reading. Please add any feedback or comments to particular features there. If you have any general suggestions or feedback we would be pleased to hear from you. Please email the Communications and Engagement Co-ordinator and the DRUSSA DIGEST Editor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
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Using Research Uptake as a Strategic Tool to Raise KNUST’s Developmental University Profile

Public universities’ responsibility to contribute to social and economic development nationally and regionally in Sub-Saharan Africa, is as much a crucial task for survival as it is for the economy to stay competitive and grow in order to ensure the welfare of society.This essential objective has impacted on strategies adopted by public universities towards meeting their national mandate. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is no exception.
 
In this opinion piece Courage Julius Logah considers the ways in which Research Uptake can be used by universities as a function to heighten their profile and their contribution to national development goals. It is important as institutions of higher learning/education and scientific research strive to achieve the respective dynamic missions and visions in fulfilment of their national mandate. [(Stephan, 1996); (UNCTAD-Ghana, 2011)].
 
In recent times KNUST, through the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) project, has been supported (through, for example, training and the RUC Campaigns) in engaging in research uptake activities, including finding ways to disseminate developmental research to its intended users through the university website and other engagement platforms.
 
As the University continues to build capacity in the field of Research Uptake, there is also potential to use these activities as a practical strategy to generate more funding for research. This is undeniably important in the face of the already woefully inadequate resources available to public higher education institutions in Ghana.
 
There are two key questions: Can/How does the University employ Research Uptake as a strategic function?
Read the full blog here
 
Courage Julius Logah is the Systems Analyst/DRUSSA bursary holder and M Phil candidate in Science and Technology Studies, based in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
 
 
Strengthening Research Uptake at Makerere University
 
In an interview Susan Mbabazi, Assistant Registrar in the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) at Makerere University and the DRUSSA coordinator, outlines the Research Uptake activities at the university and some of the challenges in institutionalising Research Uptake at Makerere.
 
Makerere University has developed a focused research agenda that is multi-disciplinary and is aligned with the National Government’s Development Plan, which is known as the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). The focus of the university on ensuring that its research agenda is aligned with national priorities has also resulted in a robust emphasis on Research Uptake. The Directorate of Research and Graduate Studies was established with the mission to “coordinate, monitor and provide an enabling environment for quality graduate training, innovative research and communication of the research outputs” and to “foster and manage graduate training and research in the university units by promoting cutting edge innovative, impact-oriented research and centres of excellence to meet the changing needs of society and for sustainable development”.
 
The Directorate does this by co-ordinating and administering all research and research information, advising on research priorities aligned to the National Development objectives of the country, and working as an outreach centre.
 
Read the full interview here
 
Susan Mbabazi is the Assistant Registrar in the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training at Makerere University.

 
Research Uptake at the University of Zambia
DRUSSA Universities are making great progress in institutionalising Research Uptake and supporting faculties in their Research Uptake activities.  But within universities the needs of different faculties can be different, as emerged in an interview with Mazuba Muchindu and Halwindi Hikabasa, lecturers and DRUSSA short course attendees from the University of Zambia.


The Faculty of Humanities and Social  Sciences deals with broad social issues and has links with communities, the private and government. The School of Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences deals primarily with government and international development agencies as their research is focussed on implementation. From the perspective of both faculties the key challenge is developing and maintaining linkages with these partners, but once the linkages are made the opportunities for Research Uptake increase.

Read the full blog here
 
Mazuba Muchindu is a Sociologist at the University of Zambia specialising in Urban Social Development from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Hikabasa Halwindi, a lecturer of Public Health in the School of Public Health
 

 

 
DRUSSA Fellowship Programme links Universities and Ministries in Uganda
 
The DRUSSA Fellowship programme has been in place for six months and is proving to be a worthwhile initiative. We share the experiences of three fellows in Uganda based on articles written for a dedicated blogspot and a further interview with Annabella Habinka, one of the Fellows.
 
Effective and sustainable Research Uptake includes both demand-side and supply-side activities that facilitate and contribute to the use of research evidence by policymakers. One part of the DRUSSA Programme is an initiative that aims to build linkages between ministries and academic institutions. A Fellowship programme where academics are seconded to government departments for an extended period has been set up. Knowledge and skills are being learned and shared and linkages being made between ministries and academic institutions that over time will provide the ministries with better access to and information about the research that is being conducted at universities and how it can be used in the policy process.
 
In Uganda a number of Fellows have already spent some time in the ministries that match their academic specialization.  Dr Annabella Habinka, from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is a Fellow at the Ministry of Education, Dr Chrisostom Ayebazibwe from Makerere University is at the Ministry of Agriculture and Eng. Dr Albert Rugumayo from Ndejje University is placed in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. All three Fellows have reported positive experiences, both on their part but also the part of the ministries they are working in.
 
Read more here
 
Dr Annabella Habinka is from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Dr Chrisostom Ayebazibwe is from Makerere University and Eng. Dr Albert Rugumayo is from Ndejje University
 
 
DRUSSA Vice-Chancellors Support Permanent Research Uptake Capacity
 
The report on the Vice Chancellors seminar held in May is now available. It contains findings and recommendations for DRUSSA university decision-makers that emerged from the discussions at the Seminar.
 
The seminar was a key opportunity to discuss on-going and new approaches, and to share experiences and priorities. The finding and recommendations of the post-event report focus on the development of cross-cutting functional support mechanisms, human capacity, and viable policy frameworks for institutionalised Research Uptake capacity.
 
A fundamental goal for all of the universities involved in DRUSSA is consolidating institutional capacity beyond the lifetime of the programme. So a dominant theme in discussions at the Vice Chancellors’ Leadership Seminar was sustainability: the challenge of maintaining  pre-existing capacity and consolidating current changes to sustain the capacity.
 
Read a review of the summary report here
 
Liam Roberts is a Programme Officer (Policy) at the Association of Commonwealth Universities
 
 
RUC2013 to RUC2015: Why have we always taken a team approach?
 
Reflecting on guiding and coaching the participants in the annual Research Uptake Communication (RUC) exercise Louise McCann reports that the experiences have always been about individuals acquiring and practicing skills in a real-world, team oriented environment.
 
Each RUC campaign has had a consistent shape and form, and has involved key role players, the DRUSSA Leader and Champion, Researcher(s) and Research Uptake Communicators. For the first time in 2015, formally appointed Research Uptake Communicators were able to meet to work with each other on the RUC2015 skills practice, in Kigali Rwanda, and then return to their universities’ RUC teams to debrief and share their learning.
 
  Assembling RUC teams and putting processes in place to focus and manage RUC for impact is a challenge Universities are facing internationally in the digital age.
 


Read more here
 
 


Louise McCann is a consulting communications strategist and DRUSSA’s Research Uptake Communications coach
 
 
Community Uptake of Research Addresses Food Security in the Eastern Cape
 
Barbara Manning interviews Prof. Pearson Mnkeni of the Department of Agronomy and lead researcher in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Research Niche Area (RNA) at the University of Fort Hare and discusses the importance of Research Uptake. According to Prof. Pearson  “Making research as accessible as possible will increase the uptake of that research and its usefulness to society as a whole. This is the underlying objective behind holding such events as Open Days for farmers. Sharing results and research findings with the small-scale farmers in the Tyhume valley surrounding Fort Hare is an excellent way of doing this."
 
The University of Fort Hare’s main campus in Alice is situated in a rural area and is surrounded by resource-poor small-holder farmers and rural dwellers, many of whom rely on subsistence agriculture to sustain themselves. Some 30 percent of the provincial population are small-holders, growing maize and beans and many of them are women. Food insecurity is widespread, affecting an estimated 2.7 million people, many of them children and youth.
 
One of the University of Fort Hare’s strengths has always been the Science and Agriculture Faculty with agronomy, crop, pasture and livestock science being particularly strong. With global concerns about Food and Nutrition Security as well as Climate Change the Faculty’s work is seen by the university as part of fulfilling its mandate of conducting relevant research and contributing to a better society as a developmental university.
 
Read the full blog here
 
Barbara Manning is a Communications Consultant at the University of Fort Hare This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
Events
  • 30 August - 2 September EARIMA Conference hosted by Uganda Research and Innovations Management Association (URIMA) in Kampala Uganda `'Building Capacity in Research and Innovations Management in Eastern Africa for Socio-Economic Transformation". You can find more information on the event here
  • 5 October - 15 December "Science communication: An introduction to theory, best practice and practical skills".This CREST course will be presented through the web-based learning management system of Stellenbosch University. You can find the online registration form here
  • 23 - 25 November WARIMA 2015, “Research And Innovation For Human Development: Role Of National Institutions In Addressing Threats In Emerging Economies.” More information can be found here

     
 
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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