In 2014 Development Research Uptake in Sub Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) commissioned CommsConsult to compile a ‘temperature check’ level inventory and review of existing and planned training materials in research uptake management. This served as a background to the development of a series of their own training materials to support universities in building capacity in research uptake management.
The short-term ‘mapping research uptake learning materials’ project was specifically aimed at identifying:
1) what institutions/organisations are out there that work in the field of research uptake, and in particular research uptake management (RUM);
2) what training and related materials already exist on these topics?
Generating this knowledge not only helped to develop a central and more complete understanding of all actors involved in the field but also helped formulate key recommendations towards identifying what (missing and unplanned) materials should be developed over the next few years to best meet the needs and demands of those working in the sector. Ultimately it supported DRUSSA’s ambition to build RUM capacity in universities across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The project adopted a mixed methods approach that combined quantitative (materials and institution mapping, surveys, google analytics) and qualitative techniques (semi-structured interviews, social media outreach). In total, over 25 significant institutions and about 200 materials were ‘mapped’ and about 20 interviews with key informants were conducted. CommsConsult also harnessed the broad knowledge-base of its associates network in order to produce the most effective and relevant set of recommendations.
The final key findings and recommendations from this project included:
- There are varied understandings about the definitions of Research Uptake (RU) and Research Uptake Management (RUM) and the language that is used is different depending on context.
- Available materials are not well sign-posted and often difficult to access
- There are pedagogical weaknesses in the design of existing e-training and materials for RU/RUM
- There are capacity development options that go beyond formal training that should be considered
- There is a strong need to facilitate an ‘enabling environment’ for research uptake
- Incentives for institutional support are a vital entry point
Photo credit: Dayna Bateman