Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns
January 14, 2013 8 Comments
“The road that goes from a piece of research to public policy is a winding, forked and blurry one” (Weyrauch y Selvood, 2007)
The global south does not lack robust economic and social research; a lot of it is being carried out with the intention of helping policymakers develop better policies for better development. Sadly, very little of that research achieves its objective mainly because it is poorly communicated to its intended target right audience.
Southern researchers experience particular barriers to having their knowledge influence global debates on development. Accessing development research and data, securing research funding, communicating research findings to peers and policy audiences, the way southern research is perceived and demanded are amongst the key challenges southern researchers face when informing policy. Besides, publishing in international journals is often harder for them due to their lack of access to the latest research necessary for referencing. It goes without saying that Southern research institutes may lack the communications capacity and budgets required to ensure effective research communication, compared to their equivalents in the North. GDNet’s own survey data also points to the dominance of northern academic practices making it harder for southern research to be seen on an equal footing.
In an attempt to highlight the challenges that southern researchers face and focus on solutions and ideas that help the development community to Connect South and ensure a more effective research uptake, we have been conducting a series of interviews with southern researchers who took part of GDNet Research Communications Capacity Building events.
At the latest GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Workshop which took place in Arusha, Tanzania, and as part of building the researchers’ capacity in research communications; we had the opportunity to hear from some of the participants about the challenges they face in their respective countries when trying to get their voices heard.
The following came out as significant challenges in different African countries:
- Lack of interest expressed by policymakers in what academics produce on economic and social development
- Crafting effective and simplified messages exempted of jargon and terminologies
- Getting research published in reputable academic journals and newspapers
- Lack of understanding of the value research has
- Existing gender bias aspect in the development community (perception of research produced by women in some African countries)
- Motivating media practitioners to listen to researchers and pitching stories out of academic research
- Establishing a dialogue between academic researchers, decision makers and communication practitioners
- Lack of accuracy of media practitioners when publishing research findings
Watch highlights from different interviews (English)
Watch highlights from different interviews (French)
This blog is part of a series of blogs on research communications challenges faced in the global south.
If you want to hear more from southern researchers, watch the following interviews: