Making research accessible
Identifying key messages and communicating them clearly, simply and without unnecessary jargon is a challenge for many scientists. WRENmedia is working closely with eight research projects of the International Development Research Centre's (IDRC) Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF) initiative, to help them engage with key audiences and share insights from their work as the research process unfolds. Following a one-week communication workshop in early 2015, and further training in 2016, we are providing on-call guidance and support to ensure that projects continue to develop impactful messages for those that need to hear them. In particular, during a one-day training workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2016, WRENmedia worked with research teams to develop, hone and practise 5 minute presentations for an IDRC one-day conference. We also worked with the scientists to develop concise, 20 second video soundbites for Twitter.
In 2013-14, WRENmedia devised and implemented a series of ‘Impact and Influence’ workshops on behalf of IDRC’s Agriculture and Food Security programmes in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. In three one-week workshops, 80 researchers, including Principal Investigators and Canadian scientists, worked together to write a series of outcome stories and policy briefs, drawing on the projects’ recent research findings. These were subsequently published and used to raise awareness of the links between specific policy measures and key development goals. Since 2015, we have continued to produce policy products for other IDRC Climate and Water, and Urban programmes, as well as the CultiAF initiative (see above). In 2016, WRENmedia began working with the Platform for African European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD) to produce eight-page policy briefs and a longer 20 page paper on brokerage/facilitation.
Building bridges for change
Tension, misunderstanding and lack of respect between scientists and journalists has hampered effective, accurate reporting on science in many parts of the world, not least in sub-Saharan Africa. This has contributed to a widespread mistrust of scientific solutions, which frequently pervades the higher echelons of government as well as the wider public. Through joint workshops for scientists and journalists, WRENmedia encourages the two sides to understand each other and work together to improve science communication. Such workshops have been supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and, most recently, the IDRC CultiAF programme.