Research is a powerful tool that has been instrumental in shaping our understanding of the world around us. It serves as the foundation for theories, informs critical decision-making, and contributes to the growth of knowledge in various fields. In an era defined by the rapid generation of data and information, the process of translating research into practical solutions for development has never been more critical. This process, known as Knowledge Translation (KT), plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between academic research and real-world applications.
On Wednesday 20th September 2023, the Strathmore Academy for International Research Collaboration (SAIRC) held a summit on Translating Research into Practical Solutions for Development. The summit, held at Strathmore University, brought together key stakeholders in the research and communications fields with the aim of creating a platform where they can understand the phenomenon of using communication to disseminate research results in a way that is engaging and meaningful.
The essence of Knowledge Translation
At its core, Knowledge Translation involves effectively communicating research findings to audiences who can apply them to inform their work. It goes beyond merely making research accessible; it emphasizes the use of evidence-based interventions to drive meaningful change. Achieving this entails not only communicating research evidence but also raising public awareness, which is pivotal for successful research outcomes.
Creating platforms for sharing research findings and enhancing the media’s ability to communicate these findings effectively is essential. By engaging the public and making them aware of research endeavors, misinformation can be prevented, and support for research can be sustained. In essence, Knowledge Translation ensures that research serves as a catalyst for development.
“Research has always played a critical role in driving societal progress and fostering development across various sectors. The full potential of research can only be realized when it is effectively translated into practical solutions that address real world challenges and improve the quality of life for individuals and communities” – Prof. Izael Da Silva, DVC Research & Innovation.
The role of research communication
Research Communication is the linchpin of effective Knowledge Translation. Every year, numerous research papers and studies are generated by academic institutions. However, unless these results are communicated effectively, their potential to drive change remains untapped. Communication encompasses a spectrum of skills, including written, oral, and visual communication. Researchers must convey their findings in ways that resonate with a diverse audience.
Research Communication isn’t just about explaining findings; it’s about engaging people in the research process. Unlike the highly detailed reports found in scientific journals or grant proposals, effective communication requires researchers to answer the critical question: “Why does it matter?” This shift in perspective allows a broader audience to connect with research and inspires action.
“Fact is, no one can tell your story better than you,” Tom Mshindi, former Group Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director at Nation Media, and currently a Consulting Editor and Writer.
The power of research communication
Effective Research Communication plays a pivotal role in raising public awareness and engagement with critical issues addressed by research. It makes research findings understandable and applicable to ordinary citizens, enabling governments and decision-makers to make informed choices that benefit society and future generations.
The SAIRC Summit: bridging the gap
The objective of the SAIRC Summit was to create a platform where various stakeholders could understand the role of communication in translating research into practical solutions for development.
Throughout the course of the day, different presenters examined the partnership gap between researchers and media practitioners and provided proactive solutions to bridge it.
“Data is a story waiting to be told and a well-structured narrative can captivate and engage your audience, making your research more accessible and impactful” – Linet Kwamboka.
The presenters of the day included: Daniel Otunge, Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Tom Mshindi, Dr. Nancy Booker, Churchill Otieno, and Linet Kwamboka. The morning session was chaired by Prof. Izael Da Silva, while Prof. Ruth Kiraka presided over the afternoon session .
- Inspiring recognition: Encourage the media sector and communicators to recognize academic research as a critical source of information.
- Awareness building: Promote the importance of research communication in academia.
- Mutual understanding: Foster mutual understanding between researchers and beneficiaries throughout the research process.
- Simplifying complexity: Communicate research outputs in layman’s terms without compromising technical rigor.
- Implementation acceleration: Facilitate the seamless integration of research outputs into impactful development programs and projects.
- Informed decision-making: Ensure that policies and innovations are informed by research and aligned with beneficiaries’ needs.
Prof. John Odhiambo, President of SAIRC and Former Vice Chancellor of Strathmore University, spoke to the academy’s purpose and summarized the importance of the summit.
“The vision of SAIRC is to bring together researchers, either directly or through their institutions, to work together in a collaborative framework to solve common problems of humanity. We want to empower the African researcher and form a strong scientific group at the local level that can work at the same level with the international partners that will come on board.”
“We can now start thinking together, start talking together and start working together in a partnership model to communicate our solutions to the community. The partnership begins today!”
The SAIRC Summit served as a crucial bridge between researchers, communicators, and the media, enabling research to transcend the confines of academia and find real-world applications. Through effective Knowledge Translation and Research Communication, we can ensure that research truly benefits society and contributes to sustainable development.
This article was written by Francis Kabutu.
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