Whether you are an academic looking to boost the impact of your research, or a research manager looking to strengthen research uptake systems at your university, this guide is for you.
Good research is critical to social and economic development. It can inform policy on health sciences, environmental sciences, agriculture, energy and many other fields, and (when communicated and engaged effectively) can also be applied directly by communities themselves. Research quality and relevance can also be informed by the input of these same stakeholders – whether in policy, business or the wider community. As undertaking research often involves substantial investment in time, commitment and funding, it is critical that research is designed with end users in mind.
This was the focus of the five-year DRUSSA programme, a £4.9m research uptake capacity building programme funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK and led by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and partners CREST at Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Organisation Systems Design (South Africa), CSIR-STEPRI (Ghana) and the UNCST (Uganda).
Between 2011 and 2016, DRUSSA convened 22 universities from across Africa to help strengthen the individual, institutional and systems components of good research uptake policy and practice. The purpose of DRUSSA was to contribute and share learning in how to improve research uptake management, research communication practice and research uptake professional skills amongst key university staff.
With the DRUSSA programme itself having concluded, this guide shares much of the programme’s learning for a wider audience. The guide can be used by:
- DRUSSA’s key participants (especially its designated “Leaders” and “Champions”) in training new research uptake management staff and incoming academics
- Early career and active researchers looking for methods and good practice in designing and communicating research for uptake and utilisation
- Research managers and administrators looking for approaches to systematising research uptake at their institutions – whether DRUSSA universities, or indeed any university across the Continent and around the world
This guide is divided into three main sections. The first section, “Research Uptake: Setting the scene,” focuses on key concepts and establishes an agreed understanding of what research uptake is. The next two sections, “Essential skills for researchers” and “Essential skills for research managers,” are devoted to practical skills that can be applied in the workplace and in the field.
The guide also includes a wealth of other resources and further reading (including DRUSSA programme reports and materials as well as other externally-authored open access literature) to supplement your learning. These resources and others are also searchable on the ACU’s Research Uptake Learning Resource, a searchable database of open access research uptake literature and training material.
The ACU wishes to thank all university staff across the DRUSSA programme who contributed their time and expertise, and who continue to make sure good research has a positive and enduring impact both within as well as outside the academy.
In the production of this guide in particular, further thanks to all participants at the Research Uptake Online Guide Pilot Workshop (Nairobi, September 2016), to Prof Cliff Studman for his facilitation and consultation and to Vene Muskett for web site design and support.