Grants support science and 'capacity building' in developing world and beyond

Elsevier Foundation awards $650,000 to programs for innovative libraries, post-doctoral researchers, women in science and nurse faculty mentorship

The Information Training & Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA)</a> and <a href='' target='_blank'>Research4Life train researchers, librarians and health-care professionals use scientific research to improve their country's standard of living. ITOCA was awarded a grant for 'Enhancing Access to Research in Central and West Africa.

Every year during the holiday season, the Elsevier Foundation announces the grant recipients for the Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries and New Scholars awards programs. In total, we have awarded $650,000 to eight organizations around the world. Another five ongoing grants and our Nurse Faculty Mentored Leadership partnership are also part of these awards.

Getting to this proud moment is a real challenge given the sheer volume of promising proposals we receive each year. For 2012, we received over 500 proposals from 70 countries – a 37 percent increase in submissions over 2011.

How the grant programs work

In May, organizations are invited to submit a one-page application describing the concept of their plan. Then we winnow down these applications to 30 to 40 proposals for each program. After that, two teams of expert reviewers take over, guiding the Foundation team to their final grant choices for each program. David Ruth

“The Foundation supports projects for their potential to serve as a model with lasting impact on our health and science communities,” said David Ruth, Executive Director of the Elsevier Foundation and Senior VP of Global Communications for Elsevier. “This year, we’ve chosen compelling proposals that address information literacy, research capacity building, the professional development of women scientists, and stemming postdoc attrition.”


Many of these proposals build on the substantial in-kind investment Elsevier has made inResearch4Lifeover the past 11 years — from being a founding publisher to providing 50 percent of the content available to these regions. Research4Life is a public private-partnership providing free and low-cost access to peer-reviewed scientific research to more than 100 countries in the developing world. It comprises four UN agencies, four research programs (HINARI for health, AGORA for agriculture, OARE for environment and ARDI for innovation), 150 publishers, and technology partners including Microsoft.

Boosting Africa's participation in global research

The ITOCA team, from Left to right: Michael Chimalizeni, Mercy Moyo, Chipo Msengezi, Blessing Chataira and Gracian Chimwaza [pullquote align="right"]Making research available is one step; another vital step is ensuring that we help build researchers’ information literacy skills[/pullquote]

Gracian Chimwaza, Executive Director of Information Training & Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA), based in South Africa, said the grant will enable ITOCA "to address the critical need for capacity building and information literacy to boost Africa’s participation in the global research community.

"Making research available is one step; another vital step is ensuring that we help build researchers’ information literacy skills,” he said. “This will ensure that this critical knowledge-sharing process is ultimately sustainable. Our project will empower the research community from this region to also contribute and share their innovations and research with the rest of the world.”

Bringing electronic resources to rural areas of Nepal

  Hospital of Kathmandu University in Nepal

Dr. Michel W. Coppieters, Associate Professor of Physiotherapy at Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences , Dhulikhel Hospital, explained how the grant would be used in Nepal: “Plenty of electronic resources are made available to assist Nepal in its development," he said. "Unfortunately, due to the lack of computer and network facilities, this information is not accessible. We are delighted with this grant as it will help bridge this gap.

"The majority (85 percent) of health-care resources, both human resources and infrastructure, are located in the Kathmandu Valley, which represents only 6 percent of the total area of Nepal. This grant will improve access to electronic resources, not only in urban areas, but also in rural and remote areas where it is most needed.”

Bringing STM information to low-use areas of Asia and Latin America

The Medical Library Association/Librarians Without Borders (MLA/LWB) program will use their grant to provide critical information literacy training supporting the usage of high-quality STM information in low-use Asian and Latin American areas, said Carla J. Funk, MLA Executive Director and International Affairs Officer. Since 2008, LWB has created multi-language, online distance learning courses, cross program and discipline training and train-the-trainer sessions across the developing world. "This project will have strong multiplier effects as the training and instructional material developed will be shared by users at all Research4Life eligible institutions,” she said.

Strengthening evidence-based health care in Tanzania

[pullquote align="right"]The internet is popularized with current and comprehensive health research information, but most health care professionals in Africa lack the skills to find, share and critically appraise this knowledge. [/pullquote]

Edda Tandi Lwoga, Director, Directorate of Library Services for Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania, said: “This award will allow us to build the capacity of health care professional in providing patient care services based on the available evidence and research. The internet is popularized with current and comprehensive health research information, but most health care professionals in Africa lack the skills to find, share and critically appraise this knowledge. This lack of skills and associated knowledge needs to be addressed, and practice habits need to change, for evidence-based medical practice to occur. This project shall conduct a survey and build the capacity of health care professional to provide evidence based patient care services and share their research in order to participate in the global research community.”

[note color="#f1f9fc" position="alignnone" width=800 margin=10]

Grants for Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries

The Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries program awards grants to libraries for innovation in improving access and use of scientific, technical and medical information. The 2012 library grant recipients address real developing world issues through the use of STM information resources and include:

  • E-Library Training Initiative in Latin America and Asia — MLA/Librarians Without Borders
  • Enhancing Access to Research in Central and West Africa — Information Training & Outreach Centre for Africa, ITOCA
  • Strengthening evidenced-based health care in Tanzania, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania

[/note] Edelma Huntley, PhD

The 2012, New Scholars proposals represent a broad range of countries, themes and geographies: one from the US, one focused on Latin America and two on the developing world. Their focuses include tackling the heavy attrition of postdoctoral researchers, to mapping the obstacles and opportunities faced by Latin American women scientists and establishing an affordable smaller-institution model to support the professional development of women scientists.

“The postdoctoral position is a critical transition point when the numbers of women researchers decline significantly,” said Cathee Johnson Phillips, Executive Director of the National Postdoctoral Association. “The National Postdoctoral Association has been working to provide resources that foster the academic career advancement of women postdocs, and with the generous support of the Elsevier Foundation, we will be able to build on that effort with professional societies and associations."

Dr. Edelma Huntley, Dean and Chief Research Officer of the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School of Appalachian State University in North Carolina, said the New Scholars grant would enhance the work-life balance of early-career scientists at her institution. "The impact of this award will be felt not only by the young science faculty but also by the students who will be mentored and taught by these scientists,” she said. [note color="#f1f9fc" position="alignnone" width=800 margin=10]

New Scholars grants

The New Scholars program supports projects to help early- to mid-career women scientists balance family responsibilities with demanding academic careers and addresses the attrition rate of talented women scientists. The 2012 grants include:

  • National Assessments in Gender and Science, Technology and Innovation — Women in Global Science and Technology (WIGSAT)

Ylann Schemm

The Author

Ylann manages Elsevier’s corporate responsibility program which focuses on advancing women in science and developing research access in the developing world. She runs the Elsevier Foundation’s New Scholars program which supports projects to expand the participation of women in STEM and create a more family friendly academia and the Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries program with capacity-building projects in science, technology and medicine. She is the communications team chair for Research4Life, a unique UN-pan publisher partnership to provide free or low cost access to researchers in the developing world. Ylann is based in Amsterdam, where she spends much of her time on a bicycle. Twitter: @ylannschemm

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1 Archived Comment

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