The policymakers’ take and advice on research communication challenges

Policy Panel

Policy Panel

Any story has two sides. Research communication is no different; there are researchers and there are decision makers.. In developing countries, however, there is more to the challenge than a bridge between researchers and policy makers. Following up on the GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop, this blog takes to the policymaking side of the issue; specifically regarding the challenges in assessing research evidence and research uptake. Eric Aligula (Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, KIPPRA) and Leonard Kimani (Director, Economic Sector, National Economic and Social Council) talk about the main gaps and opportunities for research uptake in Kenya.

Leonard Kimani first talks about the challenges of policymakers in assessing and utilizing research in policymaking. Regarding policy briefs, he argues that policymakers appreciate policy briefs as an effective research communication tool. Kimani discusses a number of “Dos & Don’ts” for researchers, to help them maximize the opportunity of their research reaching the right audience. These are:


  • Researchers should be very familiar with the research agenda, and make sure that the agenda is relevant to the challenges that are specific to a certain organization; whether the organization is governmental, counter governmental… etc.
  • They must also make sure that the quality of the research that they do is comprehensive, having in depth, and offering alternative practical solutions to the decision maker.
  • Mechanisms of dissemination should be put in place so that the research results could be shared, which could be through conferences, workshops, retreats, web portals or blogs.

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

A lot of research is being carried out on economic and social development; with the intention of helping policymakers understand the challenges in development and produce better policies; but not much have achieved that objective. There are different reasons why solid research fails often to be looked at or acted on, among which poor and ineffective communication of research to target audience.

Generally speaking, the goal of any research is to have an impact. Researchers intend to communicate their results either to policymakers to make an impact on the decisions taken, or to donors to secure funding for their research.

And you, what about your goal? If your goal is to have an impact, communicating your research results and proving that your research is of good quality should become your priority → Convince to win!

While some researchers fail to reach their audience from the very beginning, others fail to convince when they get to the right policymaker. But why does this actually happen?

At the latest GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Workshop and as part of building the researchers’ capacity in communicating their research effectively, we had the opportunity to interview some of the participants about the challenges they face when communicating their research to policymakers and why they fail sometimes, if not often, to get their voices and research findings heard.

The difficulty of getting into the policy arena and establishing contact with policymakers; crafting concise and compelling messages out of a complex and detailed research; lack of coordination between policymakers and researchers; understanding the decision-making process; all of the above came out as significant challenges, among others.

Watch highlights from different interviews

Are you a French speaker? Watch interviews with francophone researchers

Interested to learn more about the challenges faced by researchers to communicate their research? Check out talking heads from previous GDNet workshops

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.

GDNet-AERC Research Communications Workshop

Compared with other major world regions, Africa has had in recent history the worst economic performance, the highest poverty rate, and the worst reproductive health care. The poverty burden in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) today is staggering  and the region is recording a dismal performance relative to the rest of the world with respect to development indicators such as growth in per capita income and availability of basic human needs. The ongoing worldwide studies on pro-poor growth provide strong evidence that despite the progress recorded in terms of economic growth in several African countries during the 1990s, there has been no corresponding reduction in poverty.

With the support of the Hewlett Foundation, the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) embarked on a collaborative research project to examine the relationship between reproductive health, economic growth and poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa.

GDNet-AERC Research Communications Policy Workshop

GDNet-AERC Research Communications Policy Workshop

As part of its capacity building initiative, on May 24-26 2011 GDNet and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), together with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), organised a workshop on Research Communication for AERC researchers.

Held in Nairobi, Kenya, the workshop was specifically tailored and designed to support AERC researchers involved in the Reproductive Health, Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Collaborative Research Project to make an impact on policy decisions with their research results. The workshop gathered 16 participants from countries such as Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

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