Impact Practitioners

How to design research uptake strategy: lessons from High Volume Transport case study

By 08/12/2022

This 11-page report by the development consultancy IMC presents the notes taken from the research uptake strategy for the High Volume Transport Applied Research Programme (HVT) in low-income countries (LICs). The report offers practical insights into different strands of uptake strategy and provides readers with plenty of tips for activities and tools. It also summarises research uptake principles and describes the different types of impact. 

The HVT research uptake strategy has four key strands: stakeholder engagement, capacity building, communications and monitoring and evaluation. HVT identifies stakeholder engagement as the key to ensuring that their research will meet demands and therefore be used in regional, national and global policy and practice. HVT maps stakeholders into groups, such as research organisations, donors, NGOs and CSOs, governments, media and professional associations. They aim to engage with local players throughout the process, from the identification of research questions to data collection, analysis, writing and evaluation. 

The second strand of the HVT strategy is the capacity building of researchers, research users and practitioners. The capacity building activities could take on different forms. For example, those aimed at researchers might focus on strengthening their capacity in conducting participatory research, policy engagement and publication of research findings. Conversely, research users would benefit from capacity building in identifying and accessing relevant research evidence, while intermediaries need a stronger capacity for curating, organising, repackaging and communicating the research findings. 

For research communication, HVT selects various online, print and face-to-face tools. Their strategy includes both a set of fixed and scheduled events and products and also a range of pre-prepared activities that will respond to opportunities as they arise. 

Possibly the most useful section of the document is the toolkit of research uptake activities. In this chapter, you will get a look at HVT’s chosen activities and indicators of success. For example, when it comes to shareholder engagement, HVG identifies surveys, workshops, webinars, online discussions and meetings as its potential uptake activities. The indicators of success in this example would be the growing number of stakeholders engaged in HVT activities, feedback and participation, a growing online community and also influential organisations taking on evidence and themes. 

Similarly, to achieve its communication goals, HVT plans to develop webinars, organise events, present findings at conferences, earn journal publications, write evidence briefs and create videos, animations and infographics. Indicators of success would be web metrics, the brand being recognised for excellence and stakeholders reporting using HVT evidence in practice. 

Finally, the document also summarises general principles for achieving research uptake. The authors recommend including a pathway to impact in the research design, being flexible and responsive to opportunities, creating demand-driven activities for the right stakeholders and using existing research in your field. If you find research that is relevant but unused, try to refresh it and make it more accessible. Lastly, your strategy and activities should be continuously informed by monitoring, evaluation and learning activities.

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