WACREN urges Nigeria to embrace Open Science for national policy, governance

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By Funmiilayo Adeyemi

The West and Central African Research Education Network (WACREN), has called for the establishment of a comprehensive national policy, governance, and institutional framework to champion open science within Nigeria’s higher institutions.

The announcement was made by Omo Oaiya, Chief Strategy Officer of WACREN, during the Libsense National Workshop held in Abuja on Monday.

The workshop focused on priority setting and capacity building for university leadership, librarians, and university ICT directors.

Oaiya expressed readiness to initiate the implementation of open science across Nigerian universities and stressed the importance of reforming research approaches to align with the immediate needs of the environment.

He called for reform in research approaches emphasising the crucial need for culture adaptation that links academic research to the immediate needs of its environment.

“Research is to inform national development and does not have to be linked to the intent of commercial publishers.

“There is an advocacy report produced by early career researchers on this, and we have formed an advocacy group on this here in Nigeria that will make advocacy on this.

“Today’s workshop was organised to create an implementation plan, we have worked on forming the group on advocacy to campuses on open science“, he said.

Oaiya said that WACREN was showcasing Nigeria as one of the leading countries in the West African region, hence the participation of other researchers from other countries in the region at the workshop.

“We brought researchers together here in Abuja to see how it is done here; the National Informant Institute of Japan has an infrastructure solution that we believe can solve the problem.

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“Through the conversations with the Committee of Vice Chancellors, Association of ICT Directors and Librarians, we have deliberated on institutionalising open science on campuses.

“This is because that is where the impact lies. Again, we have made a lot of impact in that area, there has been creation on what is common data method scheme,” he said.

He also identified research data management and information sharing capacity as major deficit areas universities were faced with.

He said that higher institutions in the region lacked sufficient capacity and ability to coordinate information sharing on research on a national basis.

“Research data management is an area universities do not have sufficient capacity and ability to coordinate on a national basis.

“All of these activities are being funded and supported by Foreign Common Wealth Development office of the UK Government,” he said.

Oaiya hinted that Nigeria’s research community has successfully created plans mitigating against the challenges of data research.

He explained that Open science worked best on policies and national levels to create common objectives.

“In this process, this Nigerian community has also created plans in which they will mitigate against challenges against data research management and they are considering the next step of governance in this framework,” he added.

The Executive Director, Confederation of Open Access Repository, Kathleen Shearer, while speaking on enhancing the practice of Open Science in Nigeria, said there was need to adopt formal policies and invest in infrastructure.

“Open science will have a transformative impact on research and improve the quality of research and make it available to all Nigerians.

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“But there has to be a formal policy introduced either at the national level or institutional level,” she said.

Dr Fatimah Abduldayan, an Early Researcher, Federal University of Technology, Minna, said Nigeria needed to begin policy formulation and prioritise change in research culture.

Also, Dr Dominic Dankwah of the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana, acknowledged that Nigeria was ahead of Ghana in terms of policy and awareness creation on open science research.

“WACREN has brought us together, the librarians, research administrators and early researchers and it is a good platform to understand the barriers and the opportunities ahead of all of us.

“From the workshop, I can see that Nigeria is ahead of us in Ghana in terms of policy and awareness creation, we can learn from that,” he said. (NAN) www.nannews.ng

Edited by Abiemwense Moru

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