09 Jun 2011 - Story by Alvine Kapitako
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WINDHOEK â€" The probability that the University of Namibia's visibility of scholarly research would increase are high, following the introduction of the Scholarly Communication in Africa programme that was launched early this week.
The action research programme will start with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as a case study, after which lessons would be learnt and may be rolled out to the rest of the university in future.
The programme will be conducted with other universities, namely, the University of Cape Town, University of Mauritius and the University of Botswana.
The programme is aimed at achieving several goals, the most important being to map the status of research dissemination at the above-mentioned universities including the University of Namibia (Unam).
It is also to understand the support systems including information communication technology infrastructure and administrative support systems needed to improve scholarly publishing and dissemination at Unam.
Other aims are to promote the use of open source platforms to improve access to research findings and improve research dissemination locally and internationally, to build capacity in managing sustainable scholarly communication systems, understand the costs and benefits resulting from open access approaches to scholarly communication and enhance interaction with policy makers at various levels, and thus promote solutions that could support the wider visibility of scholarly research at Unam.
Acting Vice-Chancellor of Unam, Professor Osmund Mwandemele, said at the programme's official launch on Monday that the visibility of African research nationally and internationally through journal articles and research monographs is quite low and that much of the good work that is taking place at universities is not visible to the general public.
"It is my contention that we now have the ICT tools as well as other communication strategies at our disposal which can be used to raise the level of visibility and utilisation of the research output at Unam to address the challenge," said Professor Mwandemele.
In addition, he remarked that universities all over the world distinguish themselves from other institutions of higher education by the quality and quantity of research they conduct as well as the quality of research and new knowledge their staff have produced over the years.
Coordinator of the project, Ndeshi Namupala, who is also a lecturer at Unam, said: "I am delighted Unam is part of this important project."
At Unam, at least 30 to 40 percent of the work of an academic member of staff should be devoted to teaching and guiding students. This, he said, is because of the importance the university attaches to creating new knowledge, which is vital for the advancement of knowledge and teaching purposes.
"And also for the social economic development of society," said Mwandemele.
Eve Gray of the University of Cape Town gave an overview of the project. She said doing research and not communicating it is a waste of time. "There are people publishing things but we don't see them," she added.