This week, CommsConsult has been part of a global group of research uptake professionals who attended the first ever Res Up Meet Up at the Southern Sun Mayfair in Nairobi Kenya.
With close to 150 participants in attendance, the meeting did much to amplify the issues and challenges faced by the multiple actors who make up the field of research uptake. It provided a space for sharing best practices and real experiences of what works in promoting research uptake.
One of the challenges of a meeting of this magnitude is how to capture the wealth of knowledge shared to shape actions going forward. In an attempt to learn in real time, CommsConsult’s Nyasha Musandu made a list of her top ten lessons from the Symposium.
- Research uptake is a broad field, bringing together a variety of practitioners possessing a variety of skills in generating knowledge, synthesising it, repackaging it, storing it and using it for wider developmental outcomes (among many other things).
- Research uptake is not only about influencing government policies. While this seems obvious, there is a need to emphasise that uptake includes influence in a much broader sense, encompassing communities, other practitioners, researchers, politicians, donors, funders etc. The list goes on and on.
- For research uptake to be viable, there need to be some clear outcomes/objectives posed by the research question.
- No single body of research should influence policy. Instead we should aim to create bodies of knowledge to influence policy.
- However, an interesting discussion emerged, in relation to this, on the quality of evidence and the role of systematic reviews. We all agreed on the need for good evidence, but that it is important to remember that evidence comes from a multitude of sources and that there needs to be room for other forms of evidence to contribute to the body of knowledge.
- Impact needs to be unpacked to reflect what can realistically be measured and what cannot. There needs to be less emphasis on changes in government policies and more emphasis on impact as it relates to a research project’s theory of change about who it intends to influence and how.
- Context remains king (obvious but relevant).
- The skills needed to achieve research uptake cannot be found in one person. There is need to strengthen our capacities to deliver to the multitude of ResUp capacities and to build communities of practice that draw on each other’s expertise.
- While we all work towards one developmental agenda of improving livelihoods, there is a need to nuance learning to reflect and amplify the voices of practitioners in the global South. This learning needs to look at how research uptake strategies, tactics and tools are being adopted, adapted and hybridised to face challenges on the ground especially as they relate to gaps in capacity and the technological divide.
- We don’t need to redefine research uptake, instead we should nuance it.
These views are not those of CommsConsult neither do they reflect the variety and breadth of knowledge exchange that took place this week.
More to come as the Training Exchange is underway!