Improving availability and access to research information in Kenya
Access to research data and information is essential for growth of knowledge, as well as avoiding duplication of research and wastage of resources. However, lack of or limited access to research data and information remains a major challenge in the conduct of research in Kenya. This often led to duplication of research and wastage of resources. This project aims at improving availability and accessibility of research information, by providing a central portal that will hold information on research being conducted at institutions of higher learning and major research institutes in Kenya. Researchers will be able to create their profiles including their areas of interest and contact details; populate and update information on their research projects including project title, research area, researchers involved and their affiliations and a brief project description/abstract; and upload and/or create links to publications and relevant project outputs and research data. The system incorporates clustering techniques to enhance information/data retrieval, where a researcher can use single or multiple search criteria that may be the subject of a search.
The project is expected to boost efforts in making data open. For data that is considered sensitive, the system will incorporate additional mechanisms to ensure its security, alongside the secure access control mechanisms. The added security is expected to encourage and boost confidence of researchers in availing and sharing research data, by enabling authorized access and consequently use.
Data visualization techniques will be incorporated into the system, enabling researchers to get a view of the data in various forms, making it easy to make inferences that would be useful for various purposes such as research and policy making. Machine learning techniques will be used to make predictions of future trends based on data held in the system.
A field based evaluation of the system involving the major user community will ensure that the system meets user needs, and act as a way of creating awareness of the system and the potential benefits, towards soliciting support for its use.
The expected outcome is improved visibility of research in Kenya, that could yield a number of benefits including ease on networking and building collaborations that address problems that impact the society.
Key words: research information system, data security, visualization
Using Information Technologies to support research collaborations
Use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support research work is
becoming increasingly common. This study set out to establish how ICTs are being used to
support collaborative research in Kenya, and identify factors within the ICT ecosystem that
contribute to their adoption and use. A mixed methods research design, involving 248
academic scientists in 4 disciplines across 4 major Kenyan universities, was employed. We
find little diversity in forms of ICTs used to support collaborative research within the
studied population. Several factors affect adoption and use practices, including availability
and access to ICT resources, nature of the work, national and institutional ICT and
research environments and the social cultural practices of researchers. We explain our
findings using Venkatesh et al.’s Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology
model, which identifies four main constructs that affect adoption of technology such as
performance expectancy, effort expectancy, facilitating conditions and social influence.
Keywords: knowledge production; research collaborations; developing countries; ICT