Press release: North and South join forces to promote Open Science in Africa
The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Kenya and the Eko-Konnect Research and Education Initiative in Nigeria are among the very first organizations in Africa to begin use of DataCite Digital Object Identifier (DOI) prefixes.
The partnership with the Sci-GaIA project and the Conference of Italian University Rectors will help the research organizations generate persistent identifiers for their datasets: essentially long-lasting references that will help locate the datasets no matter where they appear online. It is also another step to realize a global data revolution – ensuring that research data are open, discoverable, navigable, machine readable, and open to being tested for replicability and reusability.
As a result of this partnership, the African organizations can create an unlimited number of sub-prefixes from their institutional prefix and, for each sub-prefix, an unlimited number of DOIs for their knowledge repositories. It is hoped that this will boost the promotion of e-Infrastructures in Africa and the deployment of key services such as Open Access document and data repositories, which can make scientific products (papers, reports, datasets, etc.) stored in African digital repositories more easily citable and discoverable, worldwide.
“All this has been done as part of the Sci-GaIA project activity to make African science and African scientists more visible,” said Prof Roberto Barbera of the University of Catania, Italy, Technical Coordinator of the Sci-GaIA project. He continued, “Indeed, research outputs, such as papers, reports, datasets, etc. tagged with DataCite DOIs, can be manually or automatically linked to the ORCID profiles of their authors thus increasing their list of publications both in term of quantity and diversity. ORCID profiles can in turn be connected to tools like Altmetric or Impactstory to quantitatively show the immediate impact of research made in Africa“.
“APHRC generates and posts online hundreds of open access publications each year, and these DOI prefixes and sub-prefixes give us important avenues for tracking these resources. This partnership contributes to APHRC’s vision to be at the forefront of the Data Revolution for Africa and positions the Center as a credible source of data for development”, said Dr Catherine Kyobutungi, APHRC’s Director of Research. She continued, “We believe that the work of African researchers has been under-represented in development discourse. This is a step in the right direction. Data should be made available in a timely manner and in user-friendly formats. Our quest for enhancing data discoverability is on”. APHRC’s use of persistent identifiers complements the aims of its microdata portal. Launched in 2013, the portal is a web-based platform designed to share metadata and research materials from studies that have been conducted by the Center since it became an independent institution in 2001.
“We became aware of DOI and its usefulness for managing digital content online during a recent e-research hackfest held in Lagos, Nigeria. Our researchers at this event were introduced to DOI and how DOI prefixes can be used to manage research applications and other digital content and assets. There was an immediate request by researchers to obtain DOI prefixes for their institutions. Eko-Konnect will be promoting the use of DOI within the Nigerian research and education community in all subsequent workshops, seminars and wider activities. We anticipate high uptake of DOI prefixes among our institutions in the coming months”, said Mr Owen Iyoha, General Manager of Eko-Konnect in Nigeria.
“The Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) joined DataCite as one of its members in September 2012”, said Prof Roberto Delle Donne of the University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy, Scientific Coordinator of the DOI Project at CRUI, “in order to allow Italian universities and research centres to assign persistent identifiers to their datasets and open access publications. At international level, we take part in the build-up of a global infrastructure that supports simple and effective methods of data citation, discovery, and access. In this perspective, we are very pleased to foster the growth of Open Science in Africa”.
All African universities, research organisations, libraries and other relevant entities interested in getting a DOI prefix for their institutional Open Access repositories are invited to contact the Sci-GaIA project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sci-GaIA project – “Energising Scientific Endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa” – is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project, under the Grant Agreement no. 654237.
Sci-GaIA aims to produce clearly structured guides and educational documents that can be used to train and support representatives of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), communities of practice (CoPs) and, importantly, universities to develop Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa.
Sci-GaIA’s ultimate goal is to promote Open Science in Africa through its Open Science Platform (www.sci-gaia.eu/osp) in order to increase the visibility of African science and its outcomes.
Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI)
The CRUI is the association of the Italian state and private universities. Established in 1963 as a private association of Rectors, CRUI has over time acquired an acknowledged institutional and representative role, as well as a practical capacity to influence the development of the university system through its intense activity of study and experimentation. Since 2001, CRUI has been flanked in its managerial and executive functions by the CRUI Foundation, which is entrusted with developing projects and services in conformity with its existing strategies.
The CRUI aims to examine and analyse in depth the questions and issues of interest to the university world in order to analyse and assess the results of, and feedback from, educational, training and research projects and processes.
Eko-Konnect is a cluster of the Nigerian Research and Education Network (ngREN). It aims to support network connectivity and collaboration between education and research organisations in the Lagos area as part of wider efforts to establish a functional and sustainable National Research and Education Network (NREN). It was established in December 2009 in an initiative led by the University of Lagos to exploit the geographical proximity to sea cables and telecommunication companies to secure high speed and affordable Internet connectivity for the research and education community.
Eko-Konnect is registered in Nigeria as a not-for-profit association.
Africa Population Health Research Center (APHRC)
APHRC is a leading pan-African research institution headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, that conducts high quality policy-relevant research on population, health, education, urbanization and related development issues across Africa. APHRC actively engages policymakers and other key stakeholders to achieve measurable policy impacts and ensure decision making across the continent is informed by evidence.
APHRC is also committed to developing the next generation of globally competitive African scholars and leads by example through numerous research capacity strengthening initiatives and strong partnerships with top African universities and research institutions. Over the last decade, APHRC has contributed to a better Africa through quality research, and results-based strategic communications and policy engagement.
DataCite is a leading global not-for-profit organization that provides persistent identifiers (DOIs) for research data. Its goal is to help the research community locate, identify, and cite research data with confidence.
DataCite works on several fronts to achieve this goal. They support the creation and allocation of DOIs and accompanying metadata. They provide services that support the enhanced search and discovery of research content. And they promote data citation and advocacy through community-building efforts and responsive communication and outreach materials.
ORCID is a not-for-profit organization, sustained by fees from its member organizations. ORCID’s vision is a world where all who participate in research, scholarship, and innovation are uniquely identified and connected to their contributions across disciplines, borders, and time. ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship, and innovation activities. They provide open tools that enable transparent and trustworthy connections between researchers, their contributions, and affiliations. They provide this service to help people find information and to simplify reporting and analysis.
e-Infrastructure refers to a “combination and interworking of digitally-based technology (hardware and software), resources (data, services, digital libraries), communications (protocols, access rights and networks), and the people and organisational structures needed to support modern, internationally leading collaborative research be in the arts and humanities or the sciences”. [ref.]
“Open science is a means and not an end in itself and it is much more than just open access to publications or data; it includes many aspects and stages of research processes thus enabling full reproducibility and re-usability of scientific results.” [ref.]