Media, an absolute core of equitable development

What is media? Why is it important? Can we live without it? What is its role in development?

In its simplest form, media is defined as the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively; but I would say it is a functional organism that carries out specific roles in a society; the easiest and fastest way to get something done and without it, a nation can never survive!

No one can deny that media shapes our lives nowadays, since it spreads and disseminates information to a wider audience in no time. Egypt is undergoing a process of cautious transition in the media sector especially after the 25th of January revolution. The media, with specific reference to newspapers, radio, television, Internet (social media) and mobile platforms, play a crucial role in national development, which particularly aims at improving the political, economic and social lives of the people. These different forms of media have gained more popularity in the Egyptian market, but when referring to Upper Egypt, the case is not the same.

To elaborate more, the media depends on the societies in which they operate, and the audience they reach in order to have an impact and a role in development. However, none of these factors are the same everywhere, at all times, or under all conditions since every medium has a message and a target audience; aiming at influencing a change, attitudes, perceptions and decision-making.

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Tips to overcome research communications challenges

A successful researcher needs to be an effective communicator of his/her own research. This is why GDNet committed itself to help southern researchers communicate their work more effectively. Through its series of research communications capacity building training events, and in collaboration with research communication and media consultants, GDNet creates an opportunity for researchers to build their capacity and skills, improve their ability and increase their confidence in communicating their research to policy to maximise its uptake and impact.

But training researchers on research communications is not only about developing their communications skills. It is important that researchers deeply understand and analyse the political and social context in their respective countries before approaching policymakers. In this respect, we are keen to allocate time at our research communications training workshops for a brainstorming session. During this session, researchers think, share and exchange what they think are the challenges in their respective countries, and the tools and tactics they assess as successful and may help them to overcome those challenges.

Following up on our latest blog on the challenges of research communications, “Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns”, we share with you some more interviews conducted at the latest GDNet-AERC Policy Brief which took place in Arusha, Tanzania, in November 2012.

In the video below, researchers talk about the challenges they face in their respective countries when it comes to approaching relevant policymakers. They also suggest some successful tactics that would help them and their homologues get their voices heard.

Below are some tips and tactis:

  • Organizing dissemination workshops that bring together researchers, policymakers and media practitioners
  • Taking part of informal events where policymakers are present
  • Making use of social media
  • Using media to reach a broader audience/ordinary public
  • Communicating research at an institutional level – researchers to liaise with their institutions/organizations to get their findings disseminated given that a researcher has more power as an institution

A word of advise to all our researchers: Do not shy away from knocking the doors!

Interested to hear more from southern researchers, watch the following interviews:

Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns

Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?

The challenges facing southern researchers in the Arab world

Good research hidden behind walls of subscriptions

Financement : Défi majeur de la recherche sur le développement

Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns

“The road that goes from a piece of research to public policy is a winding, forked and blurry one” (Weyrauch y Selvood, 2007)

The goal of any research is to have an impact, and not to be kept in a drawer or forgotten on a bookshelf.
Wordle: Research Communications II

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:

Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?

The challenges facing southern researchers in the Arab world

Good research hidden behind walls of subscriptions

Financement : Défi majeur de la recherche sur le développement

The dilemmas of budget advocacy via the media

[This post is part of an ongoing project of a book on project to study the challenges involved in communicating complex ideas. The objective of this project is to gain a greater and more nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities for research uptake among think tanks and policy research institutes in developing countries. This post has been written by Muhammad Maulana, Research and Development Coordinator at Seknas FITRA, and Bagus Saragih, a journalist at the Jakarta Post Daily]


By Flickr User Divergence (CC).

Civil society groups (CSOs) have often been met with resistance when communicating their ideas to a wider policy audience. The situation exacerbates further when policy makers conduct their own policy analyses using “in-house” research units.

This post tells the story of how a local CSO, calling for greater budget transparency and accountability, instigated change by communicating differently. And how it was able to reach the public via print and electronic media, shedding light on the importance of budget management.  

In the Indonesian context, it is no easy task to encourage transparent and publicly accountable expenditure of State budgets directed squarely, as the Constitution requires, at the promotion of public welfare. This has certainly been the experience of the National Secretariat of the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Seknas FITRA) which for years now has been advocating greater budget transparency and accountability in Indonesia.

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GDNet to develop a series of How-to-Guides on “Communicating Research Effectively”

I just came back from a two weeks mission in Buenos Aires and thought of writing this short story to share with you not only the purpose of my mission, but also the next steps that GDNet is planning to undertake to better build the capacity of its researchers in terms of research uptake in policy.

While being hosted by CIPPEC (Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth) – GDNet’s strategic partner in Latin America – I had the opportunity to work closely with the Civil Society Directorate staff on developing a GDNet resource pack on research communications to be launched online by mid 2012. The resource pack is intended to compile a series of toolkits addressing the required steps for effective communication of research findings, together with the material produced during the research communications capacity building workshops; it includes PowerPoint presentations, handouts, as well as recommended readings.

Following an introduction on research communications, the resource pack will include a guide on how to develop a communication strategy; communicating effectively with target audience; media and how to make research newsworthy; effective tools for communicating research, including how to write an effective policy brief and how to best use Web 2.0 tools; presentation skills; and monitoring and evaluation of the communication strategy.

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Some findings on the investment climate and business environment in Africa

Once again, I am sharing with you a couple of video interviews I made in Kampala, Uganda at the GDNet-TrustAfrica Policy Workshop held on June 7-8, 2011.

Francis Kemausuor, Energy Centre at the Kwameh Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, presented the findings and recommendations from his paper on “Jatropha biofuels in Ghana – Making informed policy decisions”. The study addresses the role policy can play in the emerging biofuels industry to the benefit of Ghana. It shows that jatropha production could be more rewarding for investors when using irrigation under the application of fertilizer, and could be even more promising at the national level if Ghana begins commercial production of clean jatropha oil.

Margaret Matanda explored the complexity of the new market entry and the risk taking by earthenware manufacturers through her paper on “Entrepreneurial orientation and access to new markets by small-scale earthenware manufacturers in Western Kenya”.

Take away lessons from the GDNet-TrustAfrica Workshop

It has been quite a while since I posted the last blog from the GDNet-trustAfrica Policy Workshop held in Kampala, Uganda, on June 7-8, 2011.

During the workshop, I have had the opportunity to interview some of the participants about the so-called “take away lessons” from the workshop. I thought of making a blog out of those interviews since it is important for GDNet to keep an eye on what participants learn from the research communications capacity building events, and to use their comments and critics to improve the training workshops and materials.

Watch highlights from researchers sharing what they learned from the workshop below:

Dr. Justine Nannyonjo discusses communicating research at the Bank of Uganda

Blog written and posted by Betty Allen on Research to Action

I recently co-facilitated a Policy Brief Writing workshop for the Global Development Network (GDNet) and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi, Kenya.

This workshop brought together a specific group of researchers who have produced research papers for the AERC “ICT and Economic Development” Project and is the fourth in a series of research communications capacity building workshops, which have been taking place globally since 2010.  The researchers came from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, the Congo, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda and it was incredibly interesting to hear about the different levels of capacity their research institutions and organizations have for communicating the work they carry out.

In the short clip below, one of the workshop participants, Dr. Justine Nannyonjo, Head of Domestic Resource Costs and Index of Agricultural Production at the Bank of Uganda, discusses the challenges she faces in communicating her research. The Bank of Uganda has an in-house communications department and policymaking body, which come together every week to discuss research findings. However, opportunities remain limited for researchers in connecting with these key decision-makers. Dr. Nannyonjo believes that “communicating in the Bank is fairly new” and it must be pushed and encouraged.

PEM Asia Research Communications Workshop

Being influential requires you to be clear who you are trying to influence! As basic as this sounds, it is often the reason why researchers fail to make a bigger impact with their work.

GDNet’s ongoing research communications capacity building workshops explored some of the tools to help researchers analyse and target stakeholders recently. The two-day workshop, organized by GDNet and delivered in partnership with CommsConsult,  took place on October 10-11, 2011 in Delhi.

The workshop was specifically designed for a group of Asian researchers involved in the GDN PEM Project (Strengthening Institutions to Improve Public Expenditure Accountability to influence policy decisions with their research results in their respective countries. The workshop gathered 12 participants from the following countries: Armenia; Nepal; Philippines; India; Indonesia and Bangladesh.

PEM Asia Research Communications Workshop

PEM Asia Research Communications Workshop

A special session was dedicated to present and practice the Alignment, Interest and Influence Matrix (AIIM) tool. While the RAPID Outcome Mapping Approach (ROMA) had used a standard stakeholder Analysis tool to identify the audiences of research-based and policy influencing interventions, the AIIM was designed to be used in a workshop setting not only to help identifying the main stakeholders, but also suggest a possible course of action towards them.

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GDNet-TrustAfrica Policy Workshop

On 7-8 June 2011 GDNet, in collaboration with Trust AfricaCIPPEC and CommsConsult, organised a two-day policy workshop for the researchers involved in the Investment Climate and Business Environment Research Fund (ICBE-RF). The workshop, held in Kampala, Uganda, gathered 22 participants from different African countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

GDNet-TrustAfrica Policy Workshop

GDNet-TrustAfrica Policy Workshop

The Investment Climate and Business Environment Research Fund (ICBE-RF) is a joint project of TrustAfrica and Canada’s International Development Research Center initiated in 2006. It seeks to strengthen policy research that can help improving the investment climate and business environment in Africa, through grant making, capacity strengthening, and policy dialogues. During its first phase, the project supported a cohort of 54 research teams from 33 institutions in 16 African countries and more than 150 individual researchers who are conducting cutting-edge research on a diverse range of issues impacting the investment and business environment in Africa.

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