In these days, research librarians have their hands full The research landscape is transforming rapidly and brings with it a lot of challenges!
In terms of global forces we see rapidly changing technologies; more digital information; changes in scholarly publication New modes of research have emerged and research is now more team-driven, partnership-based; transdisciplinary; great awareness of impact; and increasingly society engages with science in social media spaces There is an expectation for research to contribute directly to socio-economic issues and to help rid the world of its evils – poverty, disease and to feed into internationally agreed upon Millennium Development Goals” Research has become very competitive with phenomena such as incentivised publication (New Funding Model; Rankings, etc) influencing publication behaviour and as funds become scarcer The National agenda for research is equally challenging as it set targets for increased publication, increased enrollment in STEM, increased masters and doctoral enrolments; and increased number of academic staff with PhDs
To respond to the changing landscape and urgency of the research agenda, librarians have had to develop a multi-dimensional approach: And a more research-centric approach is seen ito The content provided Spaces are more conducive for researchers Portals and platforms aim to make finding and sharing information easier Librarians are skilling themselves to work in partnership with researcher to attain goals More and more they are becoming involved in research evaluation and other research performance activities
At the same time librarians are finding new ways to interact with researchers and to engage with the research environment An important change has been for example that emphasis of the librarians role (ito research support) is shifting from the pre=publication phase of support to the post=publication phase.
A key factor in the further development and the success of the research librarian support paradigm Will be determined by the responsiveness of the profession – In other words, the ability to be agile in responding to the needs and requirements of the research community both on an individual level and on a national level.
Opportunities to engage with the research agenda is plentiful And this is where I want to get to the topic of this presentation: In April this year Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (chairperson of the AU Commission) presented a public lecture at the University of Pretoria And she had a very powerful message: She spoke of Having research universities in African context Pooling resources Working together On focusing our research on Africa’s needs Her message was loud and clear that greater unity and working together was needed amongst African countries to successfully address its research needs in order to overcome unique African challenges.
The idea of greater African unity, which Dr Dlamini-Zuma referred to, is often articulated through the slogan “African solutions to African problems”
ASAP, as it became known, dates back to 1999-2001 It is generally attibuted to former president Thabo Mbeki who established the NEPAD (New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development) iniative with its main objectives to address: poverty sustainable development (and perhaps most of all) Peace & Security in the region
Although the idea of ASAP is heavily debated and questioned.
In general, the concept of ‘African solutions’ evokes a sense of self-reliance, responsibility, pride, ownership and indigeneity,
It rallies and binds at the same time
The precept of ‘African solutions’ often focuses on regional responsibility for security and peacemaking
And it serves as a call to overcome the continent’s inability to deal decisively with large-scale violent conflicts
Besides peace and security, there is a host of challenges for which solutions remain to be found and which call for vigorous intellectual commitment from the continent’s researchers.
Not any of us need to be reminded of Problems in education Unemployment Issues relating to rapid urban growth Poverty, disease and hunger
Looking at Africa’s outputs overall – it is clear that the call for increased research to respond to dire needs is being heeded
The graph shows that the continent is starting to emerge scientifically onto the world stage.
From 1996 to 2012, the number of research papers published in scientific journals with at least one African author more than quadrupled (from about 12,500 to over 52,000).
During the same time the share of the world’s articles with African authors almost doubled from 1.2% to around 2.3%.
One of the explanations for the improved research output lie in the fact that African countries generally exhibit substantially higher numbers of co-authoring than any other countries in the world A study by professors Pouris and Ho found that 29 countries published more than 90% of their articles in co-authorship with others. Most of the co-authoring, according to the study, is with the United States, France and the United Kingdom
These three countries are also the largest funders of research in biosciences, with emphasis on medicine and agricultural sciences, in Africa. They suggest that African collaboration is not driven by local researchers searching for collaborators beyond a relatively small national or regional pool, but by the availability of resources and interests outside the continent – in other words, by international imperatives and often these favour group rather than individual research.
The collaboration map of Makarere University pays testimony to this phenomenon
The map shows the number of instituions with whom Makarere University is partnering in terms of its research
It is clear the Europe, North America and Asia Pacific are by far largest in number
While it is practically ignoring its neighbours on the continent.
Pouris and Ho suggest that because of the funding bias there is over-emphasis on medical fields (infectuous diseases, tropical medicine and parasitology) And under-emphasis on disciplines such as engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science and instrumentation These latter fields – all of which underpin modern technologies and economies and (unlike in Africa) have been prioritised by newly industrialised nations such as China
Next, I would like to show how a research tool such as SciVal may be use to encourage South African researchers to look for research partners closer to home.
SciVal is modular in design with three modules OVERVIEW – which gives a snapshop of the research production of any of 4,600 institutions world wide BENCHMARKING – allows you to compare these institutions, countries or their researchers using any of 17 metrics in various combinations COLLABORATIONS – shows current co-authors as well as potential co-authors per institution or subject area
The most important features underlying SciVal is Flexibility – you can create any combination of researchers, institutions, countries you wish to work with along with a wide range of metrics It uses a super computer to transact your queries to it is very fast And it is based on Scopus data which is the largest abstract and citation database in the number of journals it indexes and it is updated weekly
Within any subject area, SciVal allows you to see find: the top countries in Africa working in the subject area The top institutions The top authors In this example we are looking at Industrial and manufacturing Engineering
The collaboration module in Scival further presents a map view of this information showing the institutions which are working in a particular subject fields with whom the particular institution is not collaborating
The home institution we are looking at is North West University
SciVal allows you to match your institution’s compencies with any defined other institution or set of institutions
In this example we have one of UCT’s competencies (FOOD, POVERTY and FOOD SECURITY) and the set of institutions in Africa who have published in this area.
There are more ways of finding suitable research partners in specific research areas using SciVal but it is not my intention to give a full account of this.
Rather I would like to challenge and encourage librarians to work with academics in using the tools they subscribe to creatively to address important research issues and in so doing contribute effectively to the enhancement of meaningful research production in the country.
If you select any of the institutions – respresented by a circle with the number of potential authors
More information is showed about the individual researchers and their record of publication
African solutions to African problems: the role of research management tools (SciVal)
| | 1
African Solutions to African
Customer Consultant: Research Intelligence Solutions
24 September 2014
| | 2
Navigating the research landscape
| | 3
Role of the research librarian
| | 4
New service paradigm for research support
| | 5
Key success factor in the developing
research librarian paradigm
| | 6
“build research universities in an African
“pool resources to build specific institutional
centres of excellence”
“deliberately encourage collaboration
amongst African universities, researchers,
academics and scientists”
“Bring about a skills revolution in urban
planning, health, education, infrastructural
projects, as well as in agriculture and
“Respond to current challenges and to the
rapid transitions following changes in
disease patterns, demography, economic
and trade policies, climate, agricultural
developments, and urbanisation”
During a public
delivered at the
| | 7
African Solutions for African Problems (ASAP)
• Dates back to 1999-2001
• Former president Thabo Mbeki –
NEPAD (New Economic Partnership
for Africa’s Development)
• The main objectives:
• poverty eradication
• sustainable development
• Peace, Security, Democraccy
• Political Governance
| | 8
• The concept of ‘African solutions’ evokes a sense
of self-reliance, responsibility, pride, ownership and
indigeneity, at once a rallying cry and a neat
amalgam of politics, agency and geography
• The precept of ‘African solutions’ often focuses on
of regional responsibility for security and
• Serves as a call to overcome the continent’s
inability to deal decisively with large-scale violent
Prof Laurie Nathan
Director, Centre for Mediation in Africa
The state of research in Africa
African research output and global share of articles. Source: Scopus
| | 11
• African countries generally exhibit substantially
higher collaboration patterns than other countries
in the world, with 29 countries publishing more than
90% of their articles in collaboration with others
Source: Pouris, A., & Ho, Y. S. (2014). Research
emphasis and collaboration in Africa.
Scientometrics, 98(3), 2169-2184.
| | 12
Africa regional collaboration weak
• South Africa, for instance, undertook regional
collaboration in respect of only 1,145 or 3.9% of its
total five-year publication output. The percentage
rises to 29% in the case of Mauritania and 37% in
the case of the Lesotho, but a clear majority of
African countries reflect levels below 10%.
| | 13
• African research areas are dominated by medical
and natural resources fields.
• USA, France and UK largest funders of research in
biosciences, with emphasis on medicine and
agricultural sciences, in Africa
• collaborative research driven by foreign funding
sources, Pouris and Ho suggest that Africa’s
science and development might be better served
by the creation of regional research and innovation
| | 14
Encouraging regional collaboration
SciVal in a nutshell: SciVal offers quick, easy access to the research performance
of 220 nations and 4,600 research institutions worldwide, and groups of
Ready-made-at a glance
snapshots of any
Flexibility to create and
compare any research
Identify and analyze
existing and potential
| | 15
The layers of SciVal
Using advanced data analytics super-computer technology, SciVal allows
you to instantly process an enormous amount of data to generate powerful
data visualizations on-demand, in seconds.
• Scopus data only
• 1996 onwards
• Weekly update
| | 21
• Research Trends – Issue 35, December 2013,
• Pouris, A., & Ho, Y. S. (2014). Research emphasis and
collaboration in Africa. Scientometrics, 98(3), 2169-2184
• Raju, R., & Schoombee, L. (2013). Research support
through the lens of transformation in academic libraries with
reference to the case of Stellenbosch University Libraries
South African Journal of Library and Information Science,