With its government's aspirations to be a Top 20 world economy by the year 2020 – an initiative known as Nigeria's Vision 2020 – Nigeria has never before placed so much emphasis on research. Nigeria's President and Commander in Chief, Goodluck Jonathan, has cited science and technology research and development (R&D) as the "key tool" necessary for the country's transformation, and there are plans for massive investment in research as well as the creation of strategic opportunities for professionals in R&D and new product development.
Last year, the country launched the Nigeria National Research and Education Network (NgREN) to give Nigerian universities the information technology backbone necessary for high-level R&D.
As part of this initiative, the Nigerian University System in partnership with Elsevierheld the first in a series of seminars on 29th January 2014 to teach good practice in research and shed light on the challenges and opportunities faced by managers and heads of research organizations.
The seminar – Deepening Research & Development Dissemination and Uptake of Innovation – was attended by 70 vice chancellors from a mix of the 129 private and government universities across Nigeria. Organized with the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU), it brought together representatives from government and research institutes and experts in public policy. The seminar continued the momentum of the November 2013 AVCNU Conference at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), where Elsevier presented to the same audience the importance of measuring scientific impact and international collaborations.
- The impact of higher education on R&D output
- Publications as output and input in building the national science & technology strategy
- The impact of a Nigeria-Elsevier Partnership on research and economic growth of the nation and research funding.
"Essentially, the seminar demonstrated that there are four areas that need addressing," said Ahmed Abd Elnaby, Account Manager for Africa at Elsevier. "Access to content, writing articles, exposing local research to the world, and then understanding the impact that that research has had."
The Nigeria-Elsevier partnership tackles each of these elements through access to ScienceDirect; training and support for researchers, author workshops to help researchers produce high-quality papers, and hosting local journals on ScienceDirect to improve the visibility of research.
The workshops also focus on the SciVal tools, which analyze metrics on research use, to help institutions develop and manage their research strategies.
"The metrics it gives will allow the Nigerian University System to understand the impact the research is having and better manage their investment," Elnaby explained. "That's very important."
By managing its research output in this way, the Nigerian University System is seeking to emulate the strategy pursued by countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and South Africa. Each of these countries developed their economies by improving and measuring their capacity for innovation, linking academia to industry, and consequently publishing higher quality papers and securing high-quality patents.
Professor Maged Al-Sherbiny, President of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology and Vice-Minister for Scientific Research of Egypt, conveyed to the audience the "4P's" for science, technology and innovation excellence in Nigeria: "Publications, Patents, Prototypes, Products."
While the recent seminar is only an initial step in this process, leaders of the university system say it has been an important one. "Many of us were convinced that the diagnostic tools demonstrated will go a long way to strengthening the research and publications capabilities in the Nigerian Universities System," said Professor Michael Oladimeji Faborode, Secretary General of AVCNU.
Elsevier is now planning a series of Author Workshops at Nigerian universities, with several likely to be announced over the coming months. They are designed to train young researchers and scientists to improve their scientific writing skills, increasing their likelihood of acceptance into international journals.
"The seminar, the workshops – all of this is about ensuring Nigeria takes the place it deserves as a major player in the world of scientific research," Elnaby said, "and that its plan of investing in research to realize the country's ambitions is a success."
Together with Development Finance International Inc., Elsevier is working to ensure that the benefits of access to scientific content are also extended to Nigeria's Public Research Centers similar to experiences across the globe (for example, in Ethipia, Ghana, Kenya and Uruguay). Elsevier is committed to partnering with Nigerian colleagues in a holistic approach to research, development and innovation in working to achieve Nigeria's Vision 2020.[divider]
Follow Elsevier Africa on Facebook.[divider]
Elsevier Connect Contributors
Ian Evans is Communications Business Partner at Elsevier, based in Oxford. He joined Elsevier two years ago from a small trade publisher specializing in popular science and literary fiction. Prior to this he worked for several years on a leading trade magazine for the electrical retail industry, reporting on new technologies and market trends in consumer electronics. He holds a degree in English literature from the University of Wales, Cardiff, and spends his spare time reading, writing and hitting drums.
In his role as Customer Marketer for Africa, Mohamed Sayed organizes Elsevier's training and marketing activities in Africa. He has a pharmacist background with extensive experience in sales and marketing in the medical devices market. He received a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Cairo University, and is completing a Total Quality Management MBA from the School of Management at the University of Leicester in the UK. He is based in Cairo.