E-resources for agricultural research capacity building in African universities
Published: January, 2016
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and CABI are collaborating to strengthen tertiary agricultural education in Africa through provision of privileged, cost-free access to two of CABI’s valuable scientific information resources, CAB Abstracts database and CABI Compendia, to all the universities that make up the RUFORUM consortium.
Between September 2013 and December 2015 usage of the e-resources generally grew and peaked – immediately following awareness creation campaigns and training. Low usage in some of the universities was attributed to limited promotion of the e-resources, lack of skills needed to use them and poor information technology infrastructure to support their use.
Where used, the CABI e-resources were mostly utilized in writing proposals and articles and for consultancies and professional research. They reduced the time spent searching for content online and led to better quality, scope and volume of research output.
To realize the benefits attributed to the CABI e-resources, systematic awareness creation and regular training of both librarians and e-resource users are essential. Awareness creation, which should be continuous and should target top university management, librarians, lecturers and students, should be conducted using seminars, workshops, university websites, social media, flyers, posters and other channels. Training of librarians should be regular and geared towards enhancing their capacity for proficiency in the use of existing and new e-resources. A system is also required to track, analyse and report on e-resource usage to understand the trends, which will help in developing the strategies and interventions to ensure optimal utilization of the e-resources.