Factors that affect scientific publication in Africa—A gender perspective

Authors : Catherine Beaudry, Heidi Prozesky, Carl St-Pierre, Seyed Reza Mirnezami

A large body of literature on gender differences in scientific publication output has clearly established that women scientists publish less that men do. Yet, no single explanation or group of explanations satisfactorily accounts for this difference, which has been called the “productivity puzzle”.

To provide a more refined portrait of the scientific publication output of women in relation to that of their male peers, we conducted a web-based survey in 2016 of individual researchers across all African countries, except Libya.

The resulting 6,875 valid questionnaires submitted by respondents in the STEM, Health Science and SSH fields were analyzed using multivariate regressions on the self-reported number of articles published in the preceding 3 years. Controlling for a variety of variables including career stage, workload, mobility, research field, and collaboration, we measured the direct and moderating effect of gender on scientific production of African researchers.

Our results show that, while women’s scientific publication output is positively affected by collaboration and age (impediments to women’s scientific output decrease later in their careers), it is negatively impacted by care-work and household chores, limited mobility, and teaching hours.

Women are as prolific when they devote the same hours to other academic tasks and raise the same amount of research funding as their male colleagues.

Our results lead us to argue that the standard academic career model, relying on continuous publications and regular promotions, assumes a masculine life cycle that reinforces the general perception that women with discontinuous careers are less productive than their male colleagues, and systematically disadvantages women.

We conclude that the solution resides beyond women’s empowerment, i.e., in the broader institutions of education and the family, which have an important role to play in fostering men’s equal contribution to household chores and care-work.

URL : Factors that affect scientific publication in Africa—A gender perspective

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2023.1040823

The status of the digital preservation policies and plans of the institutional repositories of selected public universities in Kenya

Authors : Hellen Ndegwa, Emily Bosire, Damaris Odero

Institutional repositories (IRs) have a leading role in providing long-term access to the research output of universities. This study assessed the capabilities of institutional repositories in Kenya to support long-term preservation of digital content by reviewing digital preservation policies and plans.

Data was collected through face-to-face interviews from 19 respondents drawn from three public universities that were identified by their registration in OpenDOAR, ROARMAP and the number of items in their repositories.

Additional data was acquired through analysis of documents such as open access policies and mandates, as well as institutional websites. Findings revealed that the organizations were poorly prepared to support long-term digital preservation.

Policies were inadequate and plans to support the implementation of the policies were lacking. The study concluded that although the IRs were to undertake digital preservation, they lacked clearly defined actions from plans and policy.

This article offers recommendations, including identifying digital preservation goals that will guide policy formulation and multi-stakeholder involvement in the policy-making process. Effort should also be made to create awareness of the relationship between digital content selection and its successful long-term preservation.

URL : The status of the digital preservation policies and plans of the institutional repositories of selected public universities in Kenya

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.590

Open Science in Africa: What policymakers should consider

Authors : Elisha R. T. Chiware, Lara Skelly

As Open Science (OS) is being promoted as the best avenue to share and drive scientific discoveries at much lower costs and in transparent and credible ways, it is imperative that African governments and institutions take advantage of the momentum and build research infrastructures that are responsive to this movement.

This paper aims to provide useful insight into the importance and implementation of OS policy frameworks. The paper uses a systematic review approach to review existing literature and analyse global OS policy development documents. The approach includes a review of existing OS policy frameworks that can guide similar work by African governments and institutions.

This critical review also makes recommendations on key issues that Africa should consider in the process of OS policy development. These approaches can be widely used as further foundations for future developments in OS practices on the continent.

URL : Open Science in Africa: What policymakers should consider

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2022.950139

Open access in Angola: a survey among higher education institutions

Authors : Wileidys Artigas, Eurico Wongo Gungula, Mikael Laakso

Open access (OA) to research publications is of global relevance, both in terms of provision and consumption of scholarly content. However, much of the research, practice, and models surrounding OA have been centered around the Global North.

In this study we investigate how and to what degree higher education institutions (HEIs) in Angola interact with the concept of OA to journal publications through their policies and practices, a country where the end of the civil war in 2002 marked a new start for growth in teaching and research.

This study is based on an online survey conducted in 2020 among research management units of Angolan HEIs. 23 valid institutional responses were received of 44 invitations sent (52% response rate).

The results suggest that Angolan HEIs have moderate awareness of OA but practical incorporation into academic processes has remained slow, however, this can be seen to be connected to the overall slow progress in ramping up research intensity in the country.

Seven of the responding institutions reported to be involved in publishing scholarly journals, all of them OA. Overall Angolan HEIs have few institutional repositories, and have so far placed little value on OA in the context of academic career advancement.

URL : Open access in Angola: a survey among higher education institutions

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-022-04410-w

Social justice driving open access publishing: an African perspective

Authors : Reggie Raju, Auliya Badrudeen

The OA movement is generally considered to have been founded for the truly philanthropic purpose of promoting equity and inclusivity in access to scholarship. For Africans, this meant the opening of the research ecosystem to marginalized research communities who could then freely make use of shared research to aid in the socio-economic development and emancipation of the continent.

However, this philanthropic purpose has been deviated from, leading instead to the disenfranchisement of the African research community. Through systemic inequalities embedded in the scholarly ecosystem, the publishing landscape has been northernised, with research from the global north sitting at the very top of the knowledge hierarchy to the exclusion of Africa and other parts of the global south.

For this reason, progressive open access practices and policies need to be adopted, with an emphasis on social justice as an impetus, to enhance the sharing and recognition of African scholarship, while also bridging the ‘research-exchange’ divide that exists between the global south and north.

Furthermore, advocates of open access must collaborate to create equal opportunities for African voices to participate in the scholarly landscape through the creation and dissemination of global south research. Thusly, the continental platform was developed by the University of Cape Town.

This platform was developed around the concept of a tenant model to act as a contributor to social justice-driven open access advocacy, and as a disruptor of the unjust knowledge hierarchies that exist.

URL : Social justice driving open access publishing: an African perspective

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.1910

Institutionalizing Open Science in Africa: Limitations and Prospects

Authors : Izuchukwu Azuka Okafor, Smart Ikechukwu Mbagwu, Terkuma Chia, Zuwati Hasim, Echezona Ejike Udokanma, Karthik Chandran

The advancement of scientific research and raising the next-generation scientists in Africa depend largely on science access. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused discussions around open science (OS) to reemerge globally, especially in resource-poor settings like Africa, where the practice of OS is low.

The authors highlighted the elements, benefits, and existing initiatives of OS in Africa. More importantly, the article critically appraised the challenges, opportunities, and future considerations of OS in Africa. Addressing challenges of funding and leadership at different levels of educational, research, and government parastatals may be pivotal in charting a new course for OS in Africa.

This review serves as an advocacy strategy and an informative guide to policymaking and institutionalization of OS in Africa.

URL : Institutionalizing Open Science in Africa: Limitations and Prospects

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2022.855198

Perspectives on Gender in Science, Technology, and Innovation: A Review of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Science Granting Councils and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Authors : Jose C. Jackson, Jane G. Payumo, Amy J. Jamison, Michael L. Conteh, Petronella Chirawu

Africa’s focus on science, technology, and innovation (STI) has grown over the last decade, with emerging examples of good practice. There are however numerous challenges to sustainable development in Africa; for example, inequalities within and among African countries are rising and enormous disparities of opportunity, wealth, and power persist.

While policy makers and organizations have put increasing emphasis on integrating gender into STI policies and initiatives as a means to achieve gender equality for all women and girls, inequality remains a key challenge to continental sustainable development. STI funders such as the Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in Africa are key players in national innovation systems.

They advise and facilitate policy and program development, disburse funds, build research capacity, set and monitor research agendas, manage bilateral and multilateral STI agreements, and assess the communication, uptake, and impact of research.

They, therefore, have a major role to play in enabling countries to achieve SDG5. This study assessed the current actions in gender mainstreaming across the SGCs and the status of gender research and collaboration in participating countries.

Our findings provide evidence of uneven progress in promoting gender equality in the operations of the SGCs, including funding research and promoting the integration of gender dimensions in research content and curricula.

All SGCs emphasized national commitments to gender, and the importance of gender in STI, but acknowledged that at the structural and institutional levels there was a misalignment between policy and practice. As expected, more men than women were employed across most levels at the SGCs and held positions of seniority and decision making.

Most of the SGCs had very limited or no gender-related funding programs to promote gender and STI or to eliminate the barriers that women scholars face.

This resulted in persistent inequalities in who received funding, the size of the grants they received, and in the knowledge production, collaboration, and the impact on their country’s gender-related research. These findings suggest that SGCs need to strengthen their actions to mainstream gender if they are to achieve success with SDG5.

URL : Perspectives on Gender in Science, Technology, and Innovation: A Review of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Science Granting Councils and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2022.814600