In general, South African HEIs have operated around three key pillars viz. Teaching, Research and Community Engagement. As an emerging University of Technology (UoT) we have made great strides since our inception towards nurturing, and building our research portfolio. We are hence well versed with the various elements of research practice and the management thereof. Indeed, one of the key indicators of the health of a university internationally is its research output. Academic researchers have been spurred by decades by a “publish or perish” imperative. Consequently the balance of forces, from a research effort perspective, has been inequitably skewed towards the goal of publishing, with less effort toward the goal of ensuring the uptake of research output.
Over recent years the parameters related to the research pillar has widened. The notion of innovation1, supported by national policy and associated institutions2, has now been firmly integrated into our university policy. Our university system is being continuously adapted to ensure we address the complexities of the innovation gap. As such CPUT’s policies, infrastructure and processes are on a growth trajectory in responding to the inherent challenges of an emerging UoT. It is within this context that we need to address the objectives of the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) programme. The localisation and concomitant institutionalisation of DRUSSA objectives presents CPUT with a unique opportunity to distinguish itself from amongst its sister HEIs. It presents us with an opportunity to develop our human resource capacity, and appropriate policies and systems to ensure our research output is disseminated to appropriate stakeholders so as to ensure the effective use of such outputs towards especially developmental goals.
The multiplier effect of a research uptake practice, as envisaged within the DRUSSA programme will elevate the status of CPUT and ensure the application of our collective research output for the benefit of our stakeholders across the quadruple helix. In doing so, CPUT can make a more concerted and distinguished contribution to the improvement of life in general in our country. Our contribution to the development of products, processes, methods and policy which are aligned especially with the developmental needs of our society will enhance CPUT’s visibility and stature nationally and globally.
Key definitions related to research uptake
Research Uptake refers to the processes by which the knowledge which is generated through research finds its way to those who need it —be they practitioners, end-users, policymakers in government and other agencies.
Research Uptake encompasses the notion that research is intended for particular, pre-defined, outcomes and for particular audiences/users; it is made accessible and intelligible to them by strategic communication planning, producing and publishing the research findings in appropriate formats and media. It is a planned, stakeholder focused approach.
Research uptake management
Research Uptake Management uses a "whole research cycle" model and methodology. It is a purposeful, iterative process that addresses internal (researchers and institutional) and external (funders and beneficiaries) stakeholder requirements. It involves including a dissemination and uptake strategy when planning, carrying out and evaluating the research, so that the resultant knowledge and information is produced in formats and on delivery platforms that are appropriate for the target readership(s)/audience(s)/user(s).
CPUT contributed to PLATFORM2013 – a first-of-its-kind Research Uptake publication from the DRUSSA Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
CPUT’s article featuring the Omega Caro-E supplement project, led by the Functional Food Research Unit, is a tangible example of innovation output at the institution. The article outlines how this supplement provides an affordable option to communities to lower the risk of developing chronic ailments like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer and strokes. The supplement was developed by Prof Spinney Benade and Dr Maretha Opperman.
Read more about it on on page 22 of PLATFORM2013.
Research uptake discussion paper
Building institutional capacity for Research Uptake
Dr Sara Grobbelaar`s popular series on Building institutional capacity for Research Uptake has now been published. Its aim is to explore how universities can support and conduct monitoring and evaluation efforts to track progress and to get research evidence disseminated and utilised. Read Dr Grobbelaar's blog here.
Institutional Research Uptake strategy
CPUT’s Senate recently adopted an institutional Research Uptake strategy. This strategy provides a framework for CPUT research to be taken beyond the realms of the academic world, and into society. An interesting article in Conversation Africa (Savo Heleta, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), provides an excellent view on why CPUT’s research uptake initiative is both timely and relevant in the current era. Read the article here
*For more information, please visit the DRUSSA website.
1 The CPUT blueprint on RTI, refers to the National Advisory Council on Innovation’s (NACI) definition of innovation as: the process of transforming an idea, generally generated through R&D, into a new or improved service, product, process or approach that relates to the real needs of society and involves scientific, technological, organisational or commercial activities.
2 E.g. The National Innovation Agency.