Are you a researcher? Do you work in a research organisation, project or program? Are you looking for ways to better conduct your research for development, share knowledge, engage with stakeholders, and achieve impact?

To help answer those questions, visit Improving impact through knowledge sharing in researchthe newest context page to be recently added to the Knowledge Sharing Toolkit.  The new page offers people ideas, experiences and inspiration on recommended tools and methods to share knowledge during the research project cycle.

The Knowledge Sharing toolkit has consistently provided lots of information on tools and methods for knowledge sharing. However, it has been striving to make this information more relevant and accessible to people’s needs and situations.

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To help its visitors even better find what they are looking for or figure out what they may need and could use- a ‘What is your context?’ page was also developed.

The new context page on knowledge sharing in research-‘Improving impact through knowledge sharing in research‘- takes people right into the research process with a basic diagram of the research cycle and its key stages.

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These stages are presented as ‘entry points’ through which knowledge sharing approaches can be made use of to address certain shortcomings and limitations which traditional research may experience such as:

  1. a lack of inclusion of priorities, needs and realities from the ground
  2. inadequate use of other sources of knowledge in planning research
  3. poor collaboration with stakeholders during research activities
  4. limited understanding of how research results can most effectively be made use of
  5. ineffective ways of getting knowledge to target groups
  6. limited opportunities for learning within research process

To address these, the context page invites visitors to consider which stage of research they are in- and asking a key question related to improving that stage. The page then provides a list of suggested methods- both Online tools and Methods as well as Other Knowledge sharing Tools and Methods- to try out. These tools and methods are linked to other pages within the toolkit. Tags of related topics are also provided.

Example:

Stage 1: Identifying research (questions) to undertake

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This information has come out of the resources collected, knowledge generated and experiences of the recently concluded two-year CGIAR ICT-KM Program’s Knowledge Sharing in Research project (2007-2009). The framework on which this context page is based was developed and tested particularly through 6 Pilot Projects.

These Pilot Projects are all projects of CGIAR Centres or System-wide or Challenge Programs which proposed to pilot the use of various knowledge sharing approaches and principles in their activities. This included:Picture3

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  • The convening of a Farmers’ Conference to bring out the knowledge, experiences and needs of farmers to help in planning of activities of the Participatory Plant Breeding department at ICARDA005
  • The use of a learning alliance approach by the IWMI WASPA project to bring together relevant stakeholders to link research to action
  • The IRRI-lead Pilot Project worked with key stakeholders to 2009_01150033_resizeunderstand how to write and package research results from projects working on rice in the Northern uplands of Laos, and created factsheets which were uploaded into the Laos Rice Knowledge Bank (online tool)

The selection of tools for each of the stages of the research cycle is based on the results and experiences of these 6 Pilot Projects as well as other projects and other documented cases. Documentation of the Knowledge Sharing in Research project, its pilot projects and other activities  can be found on the Documentation and Outputs page of the KSinR website section.

But this is not a blue print approach and each research project needs to find what fits with its own context, needs and objectives–the tools presented in this context page are just some suggestions to help.

If you have also used knowledge sharing approaches in your research let us know what you have done and how it worked. If you try any of these suggested approaches out, also let us know how it worked. You make contributions to the Knowledge Sharing Toolkit to keep it a living and dynamic resource by signing up and adding your methods, ideas and experiences.

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The CGIAR Science Forum was recently held in Wageningen, The Netherlands, 16th and 17th June 2009. As part of the Science Forum, a number of workshops were convened on key topics. This included:

Workshop 3. ICTs transforming agricultural science, research and technology generation

I (Nadia Manning-Thomas, KSinR Project Leader) was asked to prepare a think-piece for this particular workshop and also give a presentation during the workshop session.

My presentation was entitled “ICT-enabled collaboration for agricultural science for development” and consisted of three main sections:

1. ScenariosSlide2

In this section I outlined the evolution in agricultural science from a more traditional research approach which did not involve much participation of others in the research process. While this may have rendered scientifically rigorous results, shortfalls to this approach included a lack of adoption of outputs, little addressing of key needs and priorities on the ground, and poor recognition and inclusion of additional knowledge sources.

The participatory research and innovations systems movements evolved to address this and focus heavily on stakeholder engagement in research. However these approaches have usually focused on face-to-face participation which due to its expense can be limited and may also not achieve as wide participation as possible. Also bringing people together does not necessarily result in meaningful collaboration and participation–key methods need to be used to ensure that this happens.

I then introduced a scenario called ‘ICT-enabled collaboration’ which showed that ICTs-to be considered in  their broadest form of both technology and non-technology approaches- can help to multiply the numbers of stakeholders with whom we can collaborate as well as finding meaningful ways for participation and collaboration to be achieved.

2. Opportunities

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While a large number of ICT tools and methods exist it is very often the case that these are not used. One reason is that researchers are unsure of which tools should be used when and for what purpose. One opportunity to address this is the very process through which research is usually conducted–as shown in the diagram. The research cycle actually offers a very good opportunity for making use of ICTs in a meaningful way through the various entry points its stages offers. Each stage has certain objectives it wants to achieve and certain activities that take place. Looking at these ‘entry points’ certain ICTs can be identified which can help to enhance the collaboration during these activities and in achieving the particular objectives.

Some options were shown in a table in the next slide:

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3. Issues

Slide5However this will not happen on its own and certain challenges and blockades need to be addressed before the ICT-enabled form of collaboration can really start to move forward within the CGIAR. A number of key issues and questions related to this were raised in the final slide.

The Science Forum ICT workshop documents (program, background notes and think pieces) are all available on the website:  http://www.egfar.org/egfar/website/new/eventpage?contentId=2601

Another great example of innovation to add to our AAA campaign: Get your research off the shelves!

A blog post in September on the ICT-KM AAA concept argued that a research-oriented organization such as the CGIAR cannot be satisfied just knowing that it has produced good research. It is critical to ensure that the knowledge or outputs this research produces is put to the best possible use. Using the same philosophy that questions how a crop grown in a lab can feed a hungry person, the issue here is to find the pathway that will take research information off of library shelves and out of hard drives and make sure it is available to its intended users – be they policy makers, researchers, extensionists or the farmers themselves.

Dr. Paul Van Mele of WARDA , the Africa Rice Center, in his recent article Making Science Work published on Rice Today, argues that the best agricultural research in the world won’t help a single farmer if it stays on the shelf. To ensure that good science gets real-world results, the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) and partners have developed educational tools as part of a Rice Rural Learning Campaign to communicate relevant science and to stimulate learning all. By promoting better access to scientific results, the campaign is helping African rice farmers and processors improve both rice productivity and marketing opportunities.
Dr. Van Mele and colleagues from UK-based Countrywise Communication will present their innovative use of rural radios and videos for improving farmers’ productivity in the Knowledge Fair event in Rome in January.

How do we know their approach works?  To assess the videos’ impact, 200 women were surveyed in Benin. After watching a video on parboiling rice, over 90% cleaned and dried their rice properly (compared with 20% in a group who did not watch the video), and 42% adopted improved rice parboiling (compared with 5% in the nonvideo group). Not only did rice quality improve, allowing the women to obtain a higher price, but they also learned to work better as a group.

The title “Making Science Work” says it all!

The ICT-KM Program is pleased to announce that CGMap, a System-wide application developed in collaboration with  IRRI and CIAT, and in consultation with the Alliance of CG Centers, the CGIAR Secretariat and the Science Council is now up and running and can be accessed at http://cgmap.cgiar.org/CGMAP                                                                                                                        CGMap provides a “map” that allows easy navigation through information on research and research-related activities that the CGIAR Centers and Challenge Programs publish in their Medium Term Plans (MTPs) every year. Spanning over a three-year period, MTPs describe the research agenda of each Center and Program in relation to CGIAR System priorities.

CGMap will help you find answers to questions like:  What Centers are conducting research on chickpea in Central Asia?  How many projects are contributing to genetic enhancement of selected species?

Visit the site to discover the useful functionalities that are available. You can identify projects and view fact sheets with scientific and financial information; search for outputs and output targets in project logframes; and map projects by countries where research is planned, and by potential beneficiary countries.

Finding your way around is as easy as … well, following a map.

If you have any questions regarding CGMAP please contact: cgmap-support@cgiar.org

On 21st October we alerted you on the workshop to be held in Addis Ababa on how communication can help improve the impact of agriculture research. The ICT-KM program was one of the organizers of the event.
Watch our Nadia Manning-Thomas
tell her story about how the knowledge sharing approach proposed by the ICT-KM program is based on improving the impact of research along the whole cycle. She goes on arguing how undertaking knowledge-sharing can help to achieve other research objectives, such as enhanced relevance; multi-stakeholder engagement; collaboration along the cycle, dissemination and uptake, and M&E…and how she reveals the lessons we learned…

Don’t miss Patti Kristjanson, Leader of the ‘Innovation Works’ Initiative at ILRI, the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya for an example of the ‘innovation systems perspective’ – “how we do the research, more innovatively, with partners, to have more impact on sustainable poverty reduction.”

A research-oriented organization such as the CGIAR cannot be satisfied just knowing that it has produced good research. It is critical to ensure that the knowledge or outputs this research produces is put to the best possible use. Using the same philosophy that questions how a crop grown in a lab can feed a hungry person, the issue here is to find the pathway that will take research information off of library shelves and out of hard drives and make sure it is available to its intended users – be they policy makers, researchers, extensionists or the farmers themselves.

The CGIAR ICT-KM Program has developed a plan to assist the CGIAR Centers in taking the steps necessary to ensure that all outputs from their research become international public goods, in other words, that they are Available, Accessible and Applicable to all who could benefit from their use – a Triple-A approach.

ICT-KM believes the Triple-A approach offers a pathway for bringing the benefits of the crops grown in the lab to the people who need them.

More on this topic soon….

Some 53 farmers from six countries exchanged experiences and knowledge through story telling during the Farmers’ Conference held at ICARDA Headquarters in Aleppo, 4-8 May. The conference was supported by the Knowledge Sharing Project of ICT-KM.

Farmers from Syria, Algeria, Iran, Jordan, Egypt and Eritrea attended the first Farmer’s Conference organized by the Barley Research Program of the BIGM.

ICARDA Farmers\' Conference Group Photo

At the inaugural ceremony of the conference, Dr Salvatore Ceccarelli, a Consultant with the Barley Research Program, welcomed the participants. He said that the Farmer’s Conference, the first of its kind to be organized, has been organized as a joint activity among different partners. The objective of the conference is to bring farmers from different countries together to share their experiences and learn from each other. It is also an opportunity for the farmers to visit a research center like ICARDA, he said.

Dr Kamel Shideed, Director SEPR, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Director General. He described the conference as a great opportunity for the farmers as well as the researchers. The conference will help farmers and scientists exchange knowledge and experiences. Apart from these benefits, this meeting will expand regional integration and he hoped that the bilateral interaction will continue beyond the conference.

Ms Mariam Rahmanian from CENESTA, a non governmental organization based in Iran, said that it is a ground breaking conference. “The conference establishes that ICARDA takes farmers seriously and gives them importance in its research activities. Some of the farmers would not have seen a research center and the conference gives them an opportunity to visit an international center and interact with scientists,” she said.

Dr Adnan Al Yassin, Director of the Dry Land Research Program of National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), Jordan thanked ICARDA for organizing the conference. He said that Jordanian farmers involved in the participatory plant breeding program and attending the conference would benefit from sharing their experiences with farmers from other countries in the dry areas.

Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General, met the participants during one of the sessions and heard their experiences about participatory plant breeding.

During the next four days the participants visited ICARDA facilities and farmer’s field in Souran, about 100 km South of ICARDA where they interacted with local farmers. Each day the farmers had sessions devoted to story telling, which gave them an opportunity to narrate their own experiences and learn from other farmers.

Dr Stefania Grando, Principal Barley Breeder, said the conference achieved its objectives of collecting and consolidating farmers’ knowledge, which will help scientists in better targeting their research to address farmers’ needs. Also, the conference was successful in establishing linkages between national level networks of barley farmers in these six countries.

The participatory barley breeding program was first implemented in Syria in 1997 and the model and concepts were gradually applied in other countries.

Source: ICARDA

Participants at the ICARDA Farmers\' Conference