Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Get the foundation right: Institutional Readiness

Last week, I shared some preliminary results from a benchmarking study of more than 1000 CGIAR research outputs from 6 Centers for availability and accessibility online.  Out of 444 peer-reviewed journal articles tested, the percentage accessible online in full text ranged between 22 – 62 percent.

What does this mean? Simply that the centers with 22% of their peer-reviewed journal articles ‘open’ and public are losing out in this digital age. While this study is not about competition between centers, we have to wonder – what are some centers doing different from the others?

The centers that ranked higher percentages, at first glance, appear to have gone beyond traditional methods of disseminating their research outputs. They publish their work in ‘open’ access journals, use several digital libraries/ databases/ repositories – in short, they’ve found a way to make their research outputs fly!suspended bridge

How do we improve the accessibility of our research outputs?

First thing – get the foundation right! Develop what CIARD calls “Institutional Readiness”. 

One of the biggest challenges in introducing change in an organization is breaking through the existing culture. There are two levels at how this works: from a personal level as an employee of an international non-profit research organization and from the level of the organization itself.

Group 1 of the CIARD pathways address both levels and suggest ways in which you can start to give your research outputs the visibility they deserve. Each pathway was developed with extensive collaboration within the agricultural research and development community, including FAO, GFAR, FARA and the CGIAR in efforts to ensure relevance and context.

Providing sound arguments to help you advocate digital accessibility of research content and develop institutional readiness, the three pathways also introduce policies related to ‘open’ access, digital repositories and licensing framework. Pathway 1, for instance, outlines the clear benefits of going digital not only for the organization, but also for the scientist.

Organizational culture can’t be changed overnight. Many of the current practices are in place because they have worked for so long, and so it will not be easy.  It’s important to approach the organization as an organic, living structure. Use the pathways, start conversations flowing at all levels whether you are a scientist, research manager or communicator. Get people excited with a sustainable plan. Back it up with concrete analysis of the current status – benchmark your research outputs – it can be quite an eye-opener!

Till next time.