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23 November 2017
Appointment of DRUSSA Sponsored CREST Graduate to the Research & Innovation Office (RIO) at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Print
Sunday, 15 May 2016 09:13

Heather Ndlovu, who graduated from the DRUSSA sponsored CREST MPhil programme, and lectures in Records and Archives Management at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe, has now been appointed part-time to support Research Uptake and spends 40% of her time working on research dissemination in the RIO office. She chatted to DRUSSA.net about what her work entails.

In 2015, at the Annual SARIMA Conference, Prof Yogi Naik from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe spoke about how he has harnessed the skills of the Departments of Journalism and Media Studies, Library and Information Science, Publishing and Records and Archive Management to support the work of the Research and Innovation Office (RIO) and strengthen Research Uptake. One of the fruits of this collaboration is the part-time appointment of Records and Archives Management lecturer, Heather Ndlovu, to RIO to support research dissemination work.

"RIO therefore is able to select researchers who are conducting research with clear Research Uptake potential"

Key dissemination tools at NUST include the NUST website’s research page, the publication of a monthly research newsletter, covering events related to research dissemination, such as expo’s and fairs, and the production of the NUST Journal. Heather’s primary responsibilities relate to the production of the quarterly newsletter. This means identifying research stories and asking researchers to contribute. In order to streamline the process researchers are asked to fill out a standard form which allows them to identify stakeholders. This is then compiled into an article, profiling the researcher and their work. Initially researchers were approached randomly – one per faculty for each newsletter. However this proved to be difficult and now the Human Resource office is approached as they have a record of the researcher’s areas of expertise as well as their Mphil and Phd studies. RIO therefore is able to select researchers who are conducting research with clear Research Uptake potential. Currently the focus is on graduate studies.

Another tool for disseminating research from NUST which Heather is involved with is the Zimbabwe Journal of Science and Technology which is an open access journal and available on the university website. Not only NUST researchers publish in this journal but researchers from across the country and indeed from abroad.

 

Broadening focus to the Public(s)

The newsletter, as well as some of the other communication tools used by RIO focus primarily on internal communication, and RIO is now looking at ways of taking this information to a wider audience. For example the university participates in an annual national event entitled “Research Intellectual Outputs in Science Technology and Engineering”. In fact NUST has hosted it for the last two years. It is a big event with scientists and policy makers attending. Due to the high level of delegates in attendance from government, there has always had to be tight security. The RIO Research Uptake team are however exploring the possibilities available to get around this so that the public, and especially school children can attend. The focus on school children comes from the fact the national government is trying to strengthen STEM capacity and so involving school children will provide them with exposure to the importance of science technology, engineering and mathematics in solving development problems, and hopefully inspire them to become researchers in these key areas.

"RIO aims to runs it’s first set of training in June this year, and the target audience, although primarily researchers, will also include ICT staff and the Public Relations Office"

Looking to the future

Although her time is constrained by only having 40% of her time allocated to Research Uptake Heather is keen to use the train-the-trainer guide which was presented at the recent Research Uptake Communications workshop in Johannesburg to train researchers. RIO aims to runs it’s first set of training in June this year, and the target audience, although primarily researchers, will also include ICT staff and the Public Relations Office as they are key stakeholders as well.

The RUC training also has inspired RIO to look at revamping its webpage with the help of the ICT department. The presentations from other DRUSSA universities, showcasing their Research Uptake pages, provided a number of ideas, including a plan to not only provide links to research outputs but also to profile researchers.


Heather Ndlovu is a Lecturer in the Department of Records and Archives Management in the Faculty of Communication and Information Science at the National University of Science and Technology and the NUST Research Uptake Communicator

 

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