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Stakeholders chart course on increased awareness in open research

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Stakeholders chart course on increased awareness in open research

Stakeholders of research and education in Africa have underscored the need for increased awareness of open research in higher education.

They also said they would encourage knowledge-sharing and collaboration as well as help in the reduction of duplicative efforts.

The stakeholders at the 2024 West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) conference in Abuja on Monday, noted that open science, research would help produce global best practices in the tertiary institutions.

Speaking at the event, the Secretary General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, said Nigeria had been able to produce a draft model open science policy for Nigerian universities.

Ochefu said this was part of the deliverables of a strategic engagement from September 2023 WACREN conference aimed at setting policy guidelines to ensure open research in institutions.

“The whole open science initiative is a global platform that is directed at producing best practice in terms of how you do research, how you store research and how you share research with the community of stakeholders.

“This, ranging from your students, to other professionals and to the rest of the society,” he said.

Ochefu also explained that the committee had partnered with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to help deliver on the Tertiary Educational Research Repository project called ‘TERAS’.

He added that the first phase of TERAS, launched by the Minister for Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman in October 2023 had helped to put nearly two billion pages of research output from Nigerian universities unto a data base.

“We have never had that before. Usually B.A, M.Sc and Ph.D projects end up on the shelves of your library or department.

“What TERAS has done is to put all of that into one data base so that anybody can access the internet, go out there and search that project, and see how you can add value to the plethora of challenges that we have in Nigeria or to extend the boundaries of knowledge in Nigeria,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Strategic Officer of WACREN, Omo Oaiya commended countries for building infrastructure that would help their communities publish research so that those citizens of the countries could have free access to the research.

“The Open Science is a movement across the world where countries are saying when we produce research we do not want commercial publishers to take that research and charge us for it.

“So countries are building infrastructure so that the communities can publish research and those citizens have free access to this research,” Oaiya said.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of WACREN, Dr Boubakar Barry, said having been tested but fortified by the challenges posed by the rippling effects of COVID-19, there was need to bring the lessons of the past to define a sustainable future.

“This year’s conference is quite unique as it serves as the forum for all stakeholders in our ecosystem to chart the course of our common future with a common resolve.

“We are hoping for a highly interactive string of events where various stakeholders will deliberate on matters of community interests for the development of research and education on our side of the world,” Barry said.

The conference, organised by WACREN and hosted by the Nigerian Research and Education Network, is expected to draw a wide range of participants from across the globe.

They include higher education policy makers and funders, academia, National Research and Education Networks, ministries and agencies in charge of higher education and digital transformation across the region.

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