We just concluded the CGIAR ICT annual meeting and the Alliance Deputies meeting on the shape of the Shared Services in the new consortium… . More on the results of these meetings later…

To prepare for the meetings, I looked at the proposed “Strategy and Results Framework” to how we could support the new CGIAR.

Mega programs

The proposed ‘Strategy and Results Framework’ introduces seven interlinked Mega Programs and two platforms — gender and capacity strengthening – that will serve as the building blocks for the work of the ‘new’ CGIAR.

How do information, knowledge, ICTs and related areas fare in these proposals?

Let’s see…. Mega-Program 3 is titled ‘Institutional Innovations, ICTs, and Markets.’ Its focus will be on: “Knowledge to inform institutional changes needed for a well-functioning local, national, and global food system that connects small farmers to agricultural value chains through information and communications technologies and facilitates policy and institutional reforms.”

This mega program “aims to unleash an ― institutional and information revolution – with and for farmers and the rural poor that improves and secures their livelihoods, and also promotes innovation along value chains.” It speculates that the “next big breakthrough in institutional innovation to be unleashed in support of poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, and environmental sustainability” might include: “linking of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to value chains and services for the poor in rural areas, through, for example, the cell phone and its increasing range of sophisticated derivatives.”

Within Mega Program 1 on ‘Crop Germplasm Conservation, Enhancement, and Use’, a program will “integrate bioinformatics and crop information systems.”

These proposals seem to recognize the importance of knowledge and information as well as ICT applications and tools within both CGIAR research processes and the agricultural innovation systems where organizations doing research and development interact. Hopefully, it will boost scattered efforts to increase research uptake, interaction and collaboration using ICTs and other innovative approaches to knowledge sharing in research.

Two cross-cutting platforms have been identified. The one on ‘capacity-building platform’ will “strengthen the capacity of the CGIAR and its partners through improved research networks, information technology, knowledge management systems, and training. The expected result is a dynamic knowledge creating and -sharing system comprising CGIAR centers, strong independent national agricultural research systems, and other research partners sharing knowledge.”

According to the plan, the capacity strengthening role of the CGIAR should “have two purposes: strengthening capacity for all Mega Program partners by fostering research collaboration and networking, and strengthening capacity for weak national agricultural research systems.”

The report goes on to say “An important element of both activities will be the development and use of advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and knowledge management and innovation systems, including access of Mega Program partners to applications and resources such as databases.”

These proposals seem to include work by CGIAR centers to make their data, information and knowledge accessible (see recent work on AAA and CIARD), so often limited-access knowledge is freed to be exchanged and re-used. Hopefully, they will not forget the importance of open licenses such as creative commons, and open access in general. The ‘public goods’ need to be made public! as Peter Ballantyne pointed out.

The results of our external review and the expectations laid out on the new Mega Programs will be the basis for a renewed ICT-KM strategy.

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“Volevi la bicicletta, ora pedala!”  This Italian saying, translated as “You wanted a bicycle, so get pedaling”, can describe situations where we have a goal to meet or decision to make that can only be realized if we get on with taking the required action.

The goal of CGMap is to make CGIAR research projects fully accessible and available.  So we’ve continued ‘pedaling’ towards this fundamental goal in order to open new paths to accessing our research project factsheets.

The key to systematically making information available and exchangeable is what we call Syntactic Interoperability, the underlying concept behind RSS feeds, SQL databases, and Web Services.  CGMap is no stranger to interoperability, as it was born to receive data via XML from a completely different system.

cgmap2.0Today, we are releasing a new version of CGMap, CGMap 2.0, that completely opens the access to new and improved project factsheets, giving donors, researchers, partners, and search engines, as well as systems and Web sites catering to them, direct access to CGIAR research projects.




In this release:

  • Sitemaps:  Search engines can use our sitemaps to index research project factsheets; systems and Web sites can use the sitemaps to list and link to factsheets as applicable (for example, by CGIAR Center/Challenge Program, time period, project code);
  • Improved project factsheets:  The new factsheets provide details of the planned outputs of the project, thereby providing a clear window into the ‘What, Where, and When’ details of the research. The factsheets have a simpler visualization of the project Overview and Rationale, Outputs, and Financial Tables, so that navigating or printing a project factsheet is much easier. Also, the factsheets can be bookmarked and directly linked to, so any applicable circumstance is possible (for example, a link from a Center/Challenge Program’s Web site, a bookmark in a researcher’s browser, or a link from a partner’s project Web page).

So don’t be surprised if you are searching the Web for, say, chickpea research in India, and you find the factsheet ICRISAT-6: Producing more and better food at lower cost from staple open-pollinated cereals and legumes in the Asian SAT (sorghum, pigeonpea, chickpea and groundnut) through genetic improvements.

“Volevi la bicicletta, ora pedala!”  This Italian saying, translated as “You wanted a bicycle, so get to pedaling”, can describe situations where we have a goal to meet or decision to make that can only be realized if we get on with taking the required action.

The goal of CGMap is to make CGIAR research projects fully accessible and available.  So we’ve continued ‘pedaling’ towards this fundamental goal in order to open new paths to accessing our research project factsheets.
The key to systematically making information available and exchangeable is what we call Syntactic Interoperability, the underlying concept behind RSS feeds, SQL databases, and Web Services. CGMap is no stranger to interoperability, as it was born to receive data via XML from a completely different system.
Today, we are releasing a new version of CGMap, CGMap 2.0, that completely opens the access to new and improved project factsheets, giving  donors, researchers, partners, and search engines, as well as systems and Web sites catering to them, direct access to CGIAR research projects.
In this release:
  • Sitemaps:  Search engines can use our sitemaps to index research project factsheets; systems and Web sites can use the sitemaps to list and link to factsheets as applicable (for example, by CGIAR Center/Challenge Program, time period, project code);
  • Improved project factsheets: The new factsheets provide details of the planned outputs of the project, thereby providing a clear window into the ‘What, Where, and When’ details of the research. The factsheets have a simpler visualization of the project Overview and Rationale, Outputs, and Financial Tables, so that navigating or printing a project factsheet is much easier.  Also, the factsheets can be bookmarked and directly linked to, so any applicable circumstance is possible (for example, a link from a Center/Challenge Program’s Web site, a bookmark in a researcher’s browser, or a link from a partner’s project Web page).

AAA is not a new concept to those who read our blog, nor our tireless efforts to increase the availability of and access to our research. Just today here in Cali, at the CIAT campus I have been discussing a paper written by our colleague Edith Hesse about CIAT’s efforts to increase the availability and accessibility of their research, following our joint efforts to introduce web 2.0 tools in the CIAT science week.

And it was only yesterday that I got to know Mendeley, the latest innovation to organize, discover and share scientific papers.

It goes to show how fast things move in this area.

What is Mendeley? Apart from a great demonstration of how innovation in one area (music) can move to another (scientific publications)?

To understand Mendeley you need to know how Last.fm works. It is a radio channel on the web where users can listen to their own songs and other tracks recommended by Last.fm’s algorithms based on their tastes, including iTunes, and those of friends.

Think to apply the same principles to scientific research.

“Why can’t researchers, instead of waiting anywhere up to three years for their papers to jump all the hurdles, be part of a real-time market place – a fusion of iTunes and Last.fm for science? ” wonders Viktor Keegan .

So meet Mendeley: a databank of scientific articles built using Last.fm’s principles of recommending music, videos and concerts based on what you listen to.

Keegan goes on to explain how it works. “At the basic level, scientists can “drag and drop” research papers into the site at mendeley.com, which automatically extracts data, keywords, cited references, etc, thereby creating a searchable database and saving countless hours of work. That in itself is great, but now the Last.fm bit kicks in, enabling users to collaborate with researchers around the world, whose existence they might not know about until Mendeley’s algorithms find, say, that they are the most-read person in Japan in their niche specialism. You can recommend other people’s papers and see how many people are reading yours, which you can’t do in Nature and Science. Mendeley says that instead of waiting for papers to be published after a lengthy procedure of acquiring citations, they could move to a regime of “real-time” citations, thereby greatly reducing the time taken for research to be applied in the real world.”

It looks like some of the large archives, such as ArXiv’s, efforts, with its half a million e-papers free online – will soon pale in comparison to the potential of Mendeley. The growth rate of Mendeley is impressive, over 4 million scientific papers have already been uploaded in a matter of weeks. If you think that the largest academic databases host about 20 million papers, you will see what I mean.

Is Mendeley also a rival for Google? The real innovation with Mendeley is that it does not limit itself to links to a website, but links like-minded people.

If you are not convinced yet, watch these videos

First, an overview:

And a sample use:

Could this be a way to change the face of science? Shall CGIAR researchers give it a serious try? Could this be a real breakthrough to ensure our researchers stay easily connected and their results easily get to the hands of those who need it?

A thank you to our friends from CGNET pointing Mendeley out to us

ICTKM Newsletter BannerStories in the latest newsletter:

Enjoy and let us know what you like the most.

CIATKSW09I write this from CIAT, where at the Knowledge Sharing Week of the Institute we have been presenting approaches to increase availability and accessibility of CIAT’s research outputs. CIAT was the second center where we carried out AAA benchmarking. The results of this exercise were presented to the participants in the Knowledge Sharing week, where scientists from all over the world reviewed data showing the availability and accessibility of the results of their work.

At the meeting we showed some pathways, that we have been developing with other CIARD partners: from Copyright management, to building repositories, to using social media

ruben echeverriaGood news: such is the support to the results of the benchmarking, that a plan of action with the committed support of the Director General is being prepared. Concrete actions to ensure the results of the hard and valuable work of CIAT’s researchers get to the hands of those who need it most.

Next we are moving to Bioversity, where the benchmarking exercise has started! Stay tuned.

In a previous post we said CIAT’s Knowledge Sharing week, was introducing innovative ways to communicate what is happening here. From pictures on Flickr (great photos!) to videos on Blip,tv, to all presentations on Slideshare. Excellent ways to stay true to their commitment to opening

Visit CIAT’s blog. Highly recommended! Well done to all of CIAT’s colleagues!

The April-June 2009 issue Rice Today contains a great article about rice science in the digital age.

The story essentially introduces some of the pathways used by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to maximise the accessibility of its research outputs.

These include adoption of a creative commons licence and publishing on several platforms – Google Books, Flickr, and YouTube. A presentation by IRRI’s Gene Hettel ‘Adopting and Utilizing Creative Commons to Facilitate the Dissemination of Rice Knowledge and Technology’, available on slideshare gives a vivid insight into IRRI’s approach to licensing and shows examples from the different platforms.

Congratulations to our colleagues in IRRI for moving forward the agenda of putting research in the hands of those who need it most!

Thanks to Peter Ballantyne for bringing this article to my attention

Among the stories featured in this newsletter . 

Enjoy your reading!