ReBUILD speaks up on Research Uptake; Reflections from the ResUpMeetUp meeting

Sally Theobald from LSTM and one of the strong ReBUILD presence at the ResUpMeetUp Symposium in Nairobi consortium shares some of her take-home messages from the ongoing discussions. Day 2 kicked off with a recap and discussion of key messages from yesterday’s sessions. As Sally writes, our ReBUILD colleagues are engaging fully!

  1. Research uptake is a messy, iterative strategic, process – not a linear process or one off event

In re-cap of day 1, Sarah Ssali from the School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University highlighted that research uptake is an ongoing process and not a one-off technical event – we need to map out stakeholders and work out their priorities and be responsive to context. It is arguably particularly critical in fluid conflict and post-conflict contexts, where there is a mushrooming of NGOs and a multiplicity of players. Rogers Amara from COHMAS in Sierra Leone, discussed the importance of working in partnership with policy makers and practitioners throughout the research cycles from agenda setting to interpretation of findings to support synergy and buy in.

  1. Research uptake requires multiple skill sets and working in partnership

Yotamu Chirwa, from Biomedical Research Training Institute in Zimbabwe highlighted the importance of the multiple skill sets for research uptake and developing strategic partnerships in this regard. This was reinforced by Nick Hooton from LSTM who discussed how research uptake goes beyond working with policy makers and how we need to also focus on a range of actors including NGOs, health practitioners and diverse communities. He stated that this is challenging but some of the critical skills sets are the same regardless of who we are working with; we need to have the capacity to understand and interpret evidence and make it accessible and relevant to different constituencies. Sreytouch Vong from the Cambodia Development Research Institute was active on Twitter, and called for further action on research uptake but also reflecting on the challenges and dilemmas of being both a researcher and a research uptake advocate.

  1. We need to think about the ethics of research processes and products

The ethics of research uptake emerged as a key issue in Day 1 deliberations. For example as researchers are we put in positions where we feel we need to oversell the impact of research to please our donors and others? Milly Natimba from the Makerere University School of Public Health explained how focusing on log-frames may mean that researchers miss opportunities for research uptake emerging in other arenas. We need to responsive and we need to be ethical. Milly also highlighted the debates in one of the parallel sessions on multi-media outputs and ethics was a hot topic here – how and when should research uptake outputs get ethical clearance? This is important for example with films, photos or strategies that capture experiences of different groups including in post conflict areas – people affected by violence of mental health issues. We need to ensure that we do this ethically and adhere to the spirit of confidentiality, ethics and rights.

The meeting continues – ReBUILD researchers and research uptake practitioners will attend the trainings and meet as a group to maximise learning and update our action plans to intensify engagement with diverse players and practitioners on the evidence generated in ReBUILD.

The blogs will continue, and follow our active updates on Twitter

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