In September 2004 DFID produced the Research Funding Framework 2005-20072, which details DFID's commitments to research funding to the end of 2007. This document identifies getting research to users as a priority area. It recognises that 'research needs to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders, including NGO s, civil society and the private sector, who not only play an important role in stimulating policy debates, but are also key in delivering new knowledge and technologies to poor people'. In meeting this objective, DFID took the bold step of making it a requirement that for all DFI D-supported research programmes (i) a draft communication strategy must be produced during the inception phase of a programme and (ii) a minimum 10% of the research budget must be assigned to communication. Since 2005 all new research programmes have been tasked with designing a communication strategy. Researchers have good experience in communicating their research, though in many cases this tends to be ad hoc, dealt with at later stages in the research cycle and reported through traditional media such as professional journals. Planning for research communication from the start of research, allocating resources to communication and determining clear management responsibilities (which may include a communication officer/specialist position in the research team) are relatively new concepts to research management. DFID's policy has been put in place to improve the uptake and use of research products at all levels from communities through to policy implementers and planners. DFID has produced Communication Guidance Notes to assist research programmes with designing their communication strategies. In early 2006, DFID conducted a short review to follow-up on the use of these guidance notes. During this process a number of research programmes indicated a desire to hold a lesson sharing workshop. This workshop was the first of its kind in DFI D, as it brought together participants from 22 DFID-supported Research Programmes across the majority of DFID's priority research areas (health, education, social science, agriculture). Attendance was 100 percent, which indicates value and need for such workshops. There were also participants from specialist communication organisations. This report chronicles the main discussion and learning points that arose during the workshop. Not all these points were responded to during the workshop, as some were general statements, some were practical learning points, and some required much more in-depth discussion. They are presented in this report as a record and to be referred to and taken-up in future workshops and learning events.
Mulhall, A.; Lloyd-Laney, M.; Poad, D. Lessons learned on designing communications strategies for research programmes: Report of a Workshop held at DFID 26 July 2006. (2007)