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Category Archives: PfD
Why opening up access to research findings in the global South will accelerate international development
Dr Nilam Ashra-McGrath works for COMDIS-HSD, which is a consortium of NGOs in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Swaziland and the UK, and the University of Leeds, that does research on health service delivery interventions for a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases. In this post, she shares some of the challenges that the knowledge sector faces and reflects on the importance of access to research for NGO researchers.
Research findings should be as accessible as possible. To my mind, there’s no doubt that opening up and speeding up access to research will be a powerful force in meeting international development targets. Giving access to everyone – citizens, NGOs, students, activists, government staff, donors and philanthropists – has the potential to reduce the amount of duplication in research and increase the level of scrutiny as to how research is funded, interpreted and used by different parties. This enables citizens to hold multiple parties to account. Continue reading
– Dr M. Nazim Uddin is the Head and Senior Manager of the Library and Information Services Section at icddr,b, an international health research organization based in Dhaka. He gives a librarian’s perspective of the challenges of research access in Bangladesh
What should a library look like? For me, it should have five basic components: a building, professional staff members, resources (such as furniture and print and e-literature), budgets and users. In Bangladesh, the two most difficult components for librarians to manage are budgets and resources.
Jacinta Were, an INASP associate based in Kenya, discusses how INASP and the Kenyan library consortium have worked together for well over a decade to support sustainable access to electronic research information in the country.
I’ve known and worked with INASP for the last 15 years, mainly to support research in Africa. When INASP started working in Kenya we had gone for about six years without subscribing to any journals because there was no budget. When we did subscribe to a journal, it was just one at a time, in print form, and it would often take two years to arrive. When INASP arrived and explained what they were planning to do we welcomed them, we said “Yes, this is really the right time!”
I can speak for my country when I say that INASP support has rejuvenated libraries in Kenya, which are now able to support researchers. INASP introduced us to electronic library research literature. We are now able to access over 46,000 electronic journals and books and the researchers; having been reluctant in the beginning, are now hooked on them.
The way INASP works has been a very different approach for us in Kenya, different from the donor-supported projects we are used to. INASP has helped us to take ownership of the whole project. For the last 15 years we’ve been working on making it ours and focusing on sustainability, which has been quite exciting and very successful.
INASP support in Kenya started with subscriptions to online journals. After years, due to the political situation, donors shied away from Kenya and it was at that point that INASP helped us to set up a library consortium – the Kenya Library and Information Services Consortium (KLISC). We’d never dreamt of supporting ourselves, but we now have over 100 members and are self-sustaining in many ways. We are able to subscribe to the journals ourselves as well as to engage in negotiations with publishers. Sustainability is about developing skills and capacity as our financial situation has not changed, so one of KLISC’s strengths is in being able to manage our limited budget to maximum effect.
INASP’s work in Kenya has given us a product in the form of electronic journals, and KLISC is able to supply that product. This has enabled libraries to become organized and visible and to place themselves at the centre of research within the institutions.
The consortium model has been so successful for enabling sustainable access to electronic library resources in Kenya that over the years we have tried to encourage other countries to establish consortia. There is a lot of potential out there; many countries have already started to work within this model. Some are well-developed and others are just starting out. In Africa, Kenya’s library consortium is one of the most developed and we realized that we could support other countries and consortia to grow stronger. With INASP support we have started to collaborate with the Consortium of Ethiopian Academic Research Libraries (CEARL). In the first six months of working together, a team from CEARL visited KLISC in Kenya to meet, learn and network. I then took on the role of a ‘mentor’ for the Ethiopian consortium, communicating between the two organizations and advising CEARL on how to build its strengths. Over the first six months we saw the Ethiopian Consortium grow and become more active; it has been a successful pilot. I would like to see replication of this in other countries to build more strong consortia in Africa. We have in mind the development of an electronic network to provide a platform for people to share South-to-South experiences, challenges and solutions in supporting research across the continent.■
Jacinta Were has over 37 years’ experience of managing libraries, retiring from the University of Nairobi in 2015 where she served as Deputy Director in charge of library electronic services. She led the establishment of library consortia in Eastern and Central Africa including the Kenya Library and Information Services Consortium.
INASP Associate Dianne Miles has worked with a range of publishers and library consortia for many years. In this post, she recommends some ways that publishers and consortia can build mutually beneficial collaborations Continue reading
Humphrey Kombe Keah is an Information Management and Digital Services Specialist at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. He will be speaking with Dr Beatrice Odera-Kwach on issues relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the national supply of information in Kenya at the Publishers for Development meeting on 13 September. What is your main area of work? My main area of work is in research support through information management and facilitating access to online electronic resources. How does your work relate to the SDGs or international development more generally? The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is part of a Consortium of 15 international agricultural research centres known as the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The CGIAR mission is to advance agricultural science and innovation to enable poor people, especially women, to better nourish their families and to improve productivity and resilience so that they can share … Continue reading
Local ownership is a concept that is fundamental to our work at INASP- in fact it’s more than a concept, it’s a principle that informs everything we do, and that we strive to ensure every day. I was reminded of this during recent discussions at our 28 June Publishers for Development meeting in Oxford. Here I want to suggest one way we can bring an appreciation of ownership to bear on our work in supporting access to research. Why? Because as innumerable examples have shown, solutions which are not owned, which are developed from outside and then imposed on a country rarely work in the long term. They may enjoy some early success, but often crumble – either because they don’t work, or because no-one is invested in them even if they could. From ambitious public sector reform programmes, designed by World Bank experts, which tried to make African governments … Continue reading