On 30 November 2008, some 35 people joined a side-session of the CGIAR AGM to discuss ‘Opening Access to Agricultural Research – A Triple-A Approach to Make Research Available and Useful.’ Participants were a broad mix, from communications, information management, science, and science management. It followed an earlier presentation with senior CGIAR managers as part of a discussion on international public goods.

 

The starting point was a ‘Triple A’ approach developed in late 2007 by the ICT-KM Program (and since broadened through partnership with CIARD) that focuses on the availability, accessibility and applicability of research outputs.

 

          Availability: assembling and storing outputs so they will be permanently accessible, and describing them in systems so others know, and can find, what has been produced.

          Accessibility: making outputs as easy to find and share and as open as possible, in the sense that others are free to use, reuse, and redistribute them, with appropriate acknowledgement and without restrictive legal, technological or financial barriers.

          Applicability:  research and innovation processes that are open to different sources of knowledge, and outputs that are easy to adapt, transform, apply and re-use.

 

An introductory presentation argued that many research outputs, especially in the form of publications, are generally much less accessible that we would wish – but that promising ‘pathways to accessibility’ do exist and can make a substantial difference along the entire research cycle. There are also promising new avenues through social media that have potential to open up and diversify research communication.

 

Participants formed groups to reflect on these notions and to identify concrete pathways and other solutions to overcome accessibility gaps.

 

Two groups looked particularly at availability and accessibility and one group examining applicability. In general, the Triple A approach was recognized as useful, particularly to help identify different publishing outlets and services where research outputs should be ‘posted.’

 

Both groups called on research institutes and centers to adopt common standards to describe and tag their outputs and when building information and web systems. They want the content of these systems to be easy to exchange and share. Initial efforts in this area by the CIARD initiative were recognized to be a good step forward.

 

One of the groups discussed whose responsibilities these issues should be – of information and communication specialists or of scientists themselves. The result seemed to be consensus that both groups have to be made much more aware of what is possible, with researchers and research managers needing additional capacity building, especially to ensure that they make communication an integral part of project planning, from inception to completion.

 

For the CGIAR, the recent performance monitoring was appreciated as creating an external demand on Centers to collect and list all their peer-reviewed outputs. It was suggested that this should be extended so the Science Council would expect Centers to also deposit a digital copy of all these outputs in a suitable institutional repository. Thus the quality and the accessibility of the outputs would be guaranteed.

 

Reflecting on the whole emphasis on peer reviewed outputs as ‘the’ indicators of science performance, Sheelagh O’Reilly from the Research Into Use Programme argued that publishing outside standard journals should be seen as “not only acceptable but highly appropriate”: [blip.tv ?posts_id=1532824&dest=-1]

 

The Maputo session was jointly organized by the CGIAR ICT-KM Program, FARA, and DFID’s R4D project led by CABI

 

More:

 

Link to ICT-KM background paper for the Science Council – http://www.sciencecouncil.cgiar.org/fileadmin/user_upload/sciencecouncil/EVENTS/AGM08IPG_WRKSHOP/BallantyneW.ipg4sciencecouncil.pdf

 

Link to AAA concept on ICT-KM – http://ictkm.cgiar.org/archives/ICT-KM%20AAA%20Concept%20Paper.pdf

 

More on this topic from DFID-R4D: http://feeds.feedburner.com/r4dinfocomm

 

 

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