Research policy linkage is important in the development of any nation but its realisation has been difficult in many developing countries due to limited connection between researchers and policy makers, says Director of Southern African Science for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) Botswana, Dr Mpaphi Casper Bonyongo .
Motivating on the paper titled, “Research pathways impact: A critical but often ignored component of research and development” which he presented two weeks ago during the 17th African Association for Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF) Bonyongo said research-based evidence often play a very minor role in policy formulation in developing countries due to limited ability of study to effectively transfer and translate scientific knowledge to decision makers and policy makers.
“On the other hand, decision makers generally have limited ability to receive and internalise scientific information and knowledge therein. While a significant amount of research has been conducted in the developing world, the impact of such study on the economy and policies remains largely inadequate due to non-existence of clear pathways to research impact and lack of well developed knowledge transfer systems and platforms,” said Bonyongo.
He said a research pathway for impact is a route from research-specific activities, through to uptake and adoption of research outputs, and the realisation of subsequent future intended effect. This often undermined the research uptake in most cases.
“The low uptake of research is further exacerbated by the fact that researchers often lack the knowledge of the most pressing policy question that they would need to make their research more relevant,” he said, adding that in some cases the quality of the study is way too poor to inform anything.
He further decried the dependence of studies on donor agencies which creates inability for many researchers in developing countries to do their work effectively. It was due to this, he pointed out, that sub-Saharan Africa’s ability to produce new scientific knowledge remains relatively low (12 percent of global population, less than one percent contribution to global research output).
He therefore recommended that there be knowledge management, a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving and sharing and effectively using research-based information and knowledge.
He also advocated for a dynamic and interactive process that includes synthesis, dissemination, and exchange and ethically-sound application of research-based knowledge to improve practice behavior through adoption of activities through which end users of research (policy-makers) practitioners engage in.
There should be integrated efforts to bring together various components of push, pull and exchange: and it is the best approach to knowledge transfer as it involves knowledge brokering.