Thursday, 16 July 2009

CIARD Africa Advocacy Consultation

14th July 2009. The Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) initiative is working to make agricultural research information publicly available and accessible to all. This means working with organisations that hold information or that create new knowledge – to help them disseminate it more efficiently and make it easier to access. A consultation was organised at FARA on CIARD for the RAILS national learning teams which attended previously the RAILS side event at IAALD.

The purpose was the creation of a core group of African senior research information specialists at regional, sub-regional, and national level in Africa who are familiar with the CIARD manifesto and principles and understand the main implications/challenges of trying to achieve institutional change and implement the CIARD Checklist and actions.

The second purpose was to agree on an agenda for action to advocate the CIARD agenda amongst key audiences in African agricultural research, namely: (a) research managers and decision makers, (b) researchers and academics, (c) information specialists.

When the UK DFID (Department for International Development), aware of the value of putting research into use, commissioned FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) with the task of catalyzing efforts to ensure that agricultural research information and knowledge become public domain, it triggered the formation of a global partnership on Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD). The partnership includes FAO, EGFAR, the CGIAR, and others in the agricultural research community.

The partners in the CIARD initiative are committed to promoting the sharing of data, information and knowledge to empower the various stakeholders involved in agriculture. To begin with, CIARD outlined a checklist – the Triple A checklist that defines what is meant by ensuring your research outputs are Available, Accessible and Applicable.

CIARD pathways will help researchers identify a publisher who has more flexible policies on open access, so that they do not have to sign away all rights to their journal article. These pathways will also help a senior manager understand the value of institutional policies that enable sustainable development of repositories for their center. They will be brief and to the point. Where users like the IT unit and librarians, want more detail i.e. on Creative Commons, there would be linked resources on the web.

The pathways could broadly be clustered as:

  • General – strategic and policy issues, organizational issues which need to be addressed in handling research outputs.
  • Capture, Collection and Curation of research outputs – ensuring that all the outputs are described in a form that makes them available and accessible.
  • Managing Web Presence – using the internet to make the information accessible to others.