Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’

AGORA: What’s in a name?

20th July 2016

AGORA_subjectsAGORA is about agriculture, but only in the broadest sense

“Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture” might appear to have a strongly agricultural slant, but AGORA’s topical reach extends far beyond that. Did you know, for example, that there are 7,701 resources related to “food safety in the hospitality industry?”  Or, 1,429 journals in AGORA on economics and social science?

In fact AGORA covers the full spectrum of the biological, environmental and social sciences. Its peer-reviewed publications cut through 22 subjects that run from agriculture through to soil science, with anything from nutrition to economics and forestry in between (see photo, above.)

A good way of seeing how many different topics are available on AGORA is to browse by subject.  If you are new to AGORA, do this by clicking on your desired subject from the dropdown menu to see how many journals are available on that theme. Then run a search through Summon to bring up a much larger set of results that includes journal articles, papers and many more content types containing your search terms. 

For example, if “nutrition” is your area of interest, you’ll be presented with over 1 million results through a Summon search. Within “nutrition” AGORA suggests scores of related “subject terms” and you can then use these to further narrow down your search. “Food safety,” for example, yields close to 470,00 results. From “food safety,” you get to “food safety in the hospitality industry”, which returns a further 7,701 results.  

To this end, by ticking or excluding the “subject terms” that interest you,  a topic as seemingly ‘niche’ as “Industrial chemistry and manufactured technologies” (in relation to food safety in hospitality) returns 488 results.

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INASP and Research4Life Launch Research Advocacy Competition

28th June 2016

Global case study competition spotlights how users in the developing world have successfully advocated for a sustainable research culture.

London, United Kingdom June 28, 2016INASP and Research4Life have announced today a competition to recognize the critical role that researchers, librarians, policymakers, doctors and other professionals play in advocating their leaders to support research in their institutions and countries. The competition calls for case studies demonstrating how users have overcome hurdles to boost critical leadership support for the information and infrastructural resources needed to improve evidence based health care, agriculture and environmental policies as well as basic research in their countries.

Over the last two decades, INASP and Research4Life have worked to close the information gap between developed and developing countries by providing free or low cost access to academic, scientific, and professional peer-reviewed content online and providing the necessary training to support researchers, practitioners, librarians and authors in building viable research ecosystems. The competition will run from June 28th to September 15th and highlight best practice in garnering support from leaders to improve the sustainability of this access and usage. Case studies will be reviewed by a committee of distinguished international partners from the INASP and Research4Life communities.

Julie Brittain, Executive Director of INASP says: “Since 2002, INASP has been working with libraries, library consortia and publishers to supply relevant and appropriate online literature to academics and researchers in all fields. Top level support from institutional leaders has enabled librarians to provide access to much needed content and to build awareness and use among academics, researchers and students. We are keen for all those involved to share stories of how they have gathered support from decision makers and budget holders, as this is the key to on-going, long term access to research literature.”

“Since 2001, Research4Life has been working to provide access to critical research in the developing world. Our reach has grown to 117 countries and 69,000 journals, books and databases, but we realize more than ever that it can only be truly sustainable if leaders “upstream” of practitioners, researchers, and librarians are equally supportive of this need,” said Richard Gedye, Chair of the Executive Council for Research4Life and Director of Outreach Programmes at the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers, “Our competition aims to celebrate and share those advocacy successes.”

The INASP/Research4Life Advocacy Competition is open to all researchers, practitioners, librarians and policymakers whose institution is a registered user of one of the Research4Life programmes  Hinari, AGORA, OARE and ARDI or has access to research through an agreement mediated by INASP. Submissions will be accepted through The winner be announced in November and invited to present their work at the annual Publishers for Development conference and Research4Life General Partners Meeting in the UK in July 2017. Three contributing Research4Life partners have pledged prizes: Elsevier will provide the winner with a travel grant to cover their attendance at these meetings, SAGE Publishing has offered a one year subscription to a major reference work and Taylor & Francis will provide an honourable mention award.


INASP ( is an international development charity working with a global network of partners to improve access, production and use of research information and knowledge, so that countries are equipped to solve their development challenges.

About Research4Life
Research4Life ( is a public-private partnership between over 200 international scientific publishers, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), Cornell and Yale Universities and several technology partners. The goal of Research4Life is to reduce the knowledge gap between high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries by providing affordable access to critical scientific research. Since 2002, the four programmes – Research in Health (Hinari), Research in Agriculture (AGORA), Research in the Environment (OARE) and Research for Development and Innovation (ARDI) – have provided researchers at some 8,000 institutions in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries with free or low-cost online access to nearly 70,000 leading journals and books in the fields of health, agriculture, environment, and applied sciences.


Media Contacts:

Natalia Rodriguez
Communications Coordinator

Alex Kealey,
Communications Officer

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Interview with Chenjerai Mabhiza about the Forum on Open Data, Open Science and Open Access to Information in Agriculture

7th June 2016

Interview with Chenjerai Mabhiza, Head of User Services at the University of Namibia

Namibia_workshop1Following the forum on Open science and Open Data in Agriculture in Namibia in April, we caught up with Chenjerai Mabhiza – Head of User Services at the University of Namibia (UNAM). Part of his role is to help ensure that the library is the digital-backbone of research across campuses, ensuring smooth information flow between resources and students

Namibia_workshop2Compliments to you Chenjerai (see left) for your work in helping to organize the recent Forum. That must have involved a lot of work behind the scenes….

Thank you for the welcome remarks and yes, there was a lot of work behind the scenes. At the end of January 2016 I gladly accepted the ITOCA’s request to be the logistical organizer of the Forum on Open Data, Open Science and Open Access to Information in Agriculture in the Context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An AGORA Training Workshop followed at the University of Namibia (UNAM), 19-20 April 2016.

On a logistical front I helped find the venues and made bookings for both the Forum (FODUSA) and the AGORA Training workshop. I also identified public institutions and individuals that could participate at both events, organized caterers for the AGORA workshop and transport for the forum and workshop facilitators.

In addition, my role included compiling a report to cover both the FODUSA and the AGORA workshop. I am still busy compiling the joint final report for both (forum and workshop) as I respond to your interview questions….    

Senior-level panelists spoke at length on an array of topics about open data and open science in agricultural research. But at a policy level what did you take away from the Forum, and how do you see the outcomes being relevant to UNAM?

The opening statements highlighted the importance of science research. They addressed national priorities and needs and their contribution towards the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those related to ending hunger, poverty alleviation, gender equality, climate change and health. The importance of easy access to information, and the need for access to knowledge to support national priorities and SDGs was also noted.

Namibia_workshop3The first plenary session
presentations and discussions looked at research and innovation in support of national development goals and SDGs.

The second plenary session discussed initiatives on data and technical information sharing and dissemination using open data and open science for the realization of the aforementioned SDGs.  It also highlighted the need for access to data and information, including institutional and national policy implications.

The closing session summarized the major outputs from the panel discussions and resolved to enhance knowledge sharing and advocacy on open data and open science.

Specifically, the Forum resolved that Namibia must create a National Steering Committee on Open Data and Open Science (OD/ OS) and mandated the Namibia Commission for Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) to coordinate the committee.

The representative at the Forum informed the meeting that the NCRST was in the process of formulating a Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy. The Forum advised the NCRST to incorporate issues pertaining to Open Access and sharing of research data in the STI policy.

In order to successfully champion the cause, the Namibia National Steering Committee on Open Data, Open Science, Agriculture Research and Development must engage a range of institutions (*see list at end).


How widely is AGORA promoted and used at UNAM?

Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) is promoted during information literacy (IL) training sessions, carried out by librarians. IL training for students takes place throughout the year and during academic orientation for teaching and research staff. IL training for postgraduate students takes place during faculty seminars, during academic 1st year orientation, and upon request.

AGORA is mostly used by students and lecturers from the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) and the Faculty of Science. A few nursing science, education and humanities students have also found AGORA relevant to their research focus areas in recent years.

What about other agricultural research resources?

Agriculture research information is available online through theses and dissertations, research reports, and platforms and databases such as, AGORA, OARE, Google Scholar, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) EBSCO HOST, JSTOR, AGRIS, TEEAL and Science Direct, among others.

Agriculture students have access to all the above resources through the Library website. UNAM students also access agriculture information through organizational websites: FAO, OIE, CTA, SADC FANR, CARDESA, FARA, and Farmers` Unions, etc.

And e-learning?

UNAM promotes e-learning through the Centre for Open and Distance Learning. Lecturers can deposit lecture notes on student portals through the Moodle E-Learning platform; lecturers can also assess students on-screen. The Web is also awash with free online tutorials on various disciplines, including agriculture.

The majority of UNAM students have access to new technologies, but the onus is upon them to continue learning after obtaining their degrees and also apply these skills at work. After UNAM, Namibian graduates can also pursue postgraduate studies online through other agriculture universities globally. 

As Head of User Services at UNAM you have a great vantage point on how students access research.  During your time at UNAM how have you seen user-services improve and innovate in line with better access to research?

In 2012 I helped to carry out a study to identify resources required by academics at UNAM.  Subscription databases such as, Hein Online and Cambridge Law Reports were added in 2015 following accreditation of the LLB programme.

In addition to AGORA and HINARI, OARE was also added to the Research4Life programmes that UNAM has access to.

JSTOR was added in 2012. Connectivity to Open Access resources, such as Google Scholar, Biomed Central, DOAJ, DOAB, Free Books4Doctors, among others was established and the above resources are accessible through the UNAM Library website.

Following a 2007 User Survey Report (after student complaints and demonstrations) more student PCs were acquired, a new ICT Student Help Desk was introduced, Internet bandwidth increased, and wifi installed inside and around libraries, among other improvements, (although internet connectivity remains poor at some UNAM campuses, especially further from Windhoek).

Cumulatively, the above library developments have enabled students and researchers based at various UNAM campuses to access research information online.

I conducted an evaluation in 2009 that helped to identify gaps among existing library collections (journals and textbooks). Some of the identified e-journal databases that have been added to the UNAM Library subscriptions list include, Emerald (2011), Science Direct (2011), Sage (2012), and Taylor & Francis (2012).

You’re an active member of Open Access week – how is OA promoted at UNAM and what benefits do you see for students?

UNAM`s position on participating in open access programmes is articulated in the Scholarly Communications (SC) Policy approved by Senate in 2013.

UNAM strives to make the products of all publicly funded research freely accessible to the global community of researchers through the UNAM Institutional Repository (IR administered by the library).

In the event where the authors are not funded by the institution or government, and their works are disseminated through subscription based journals, databases, etc., the SC policy advises UNAM academicians/ researchers to negotiate their right to deposit/publish pre-prints through the IR whenever possible.

Through funding from the University`s Research Office, the institution supports researchers seeking to publish their peer reviewed works through accredited Open Access journals.

Meanwhile, electronic copies of all Master degree theses and Phd dissertations done through the University of Namibia (UNAM) are published on the Institutional Repository (IR). For example, a copy of my thesis defended on 15 March 2016 is accessible @

Lastly, what’s next on your agenda, particularly in terms of open access to data and science?

I’m a member of the UNAM Scholarly Communications Committee (SCC: formerly Task Force). One of the recommendations of both the Task Force and the SCC is that the institution must become a signatory of one of the Open Access declarations, such as the Vienna or Berlin Declaration(s).

I also agree with the AGORA workshop recommendation of UNAM becoming a member of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR).

The UNAM Library`s ICT and Training Librarian has just returned from a 3-week digitization (D-Space) training trip in Poland, Czech Republic and Switzerland, where the UNAM Institutional Repository (IR) featured greatly. During the trip UNAM was offered an opportunity to participate in a different local open access and digitization initiative coordinated by the National Archives of Namibia and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST, formerly Polytechnic of Namibia).

A summary of the project is presented below:

Digital Namibian Archive:

*: University of Namibia (UNAM), Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) International University of Management (IUM), National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST), International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Ministries/ Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) departments, such as, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Ministry of Fisheries, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), National Planning Commission (NPC), Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), Ministry of Information Commission Technology (ICT), Directorate Namibia Library and Archives Services (NLAS; National Library of Namibia is part of NLAS), Ministry of Education, Farmers Unions (Namibia Farmers Union (NFU), and Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

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Free AGORA online course

30th April 2015

If you are a researcher, librarian or a professional working in Agriculture, the new AGORA online course is for you. Delivered online through the ITOCA Moodle platform, the course takes around 6-8 hours to complete, is self-paced and contains a short set of exercises to complete. You will learn key skills that are necessary for the efficient and effective use of the resources in the Programme. Participants will receive a certificate after finishing the course.

The AGORA programme is a collection of more than 5700 key journals and 4100 books in the fields of food, agriculture, environmental science and related social sciences. 2800 institutions in more than 100 countries have registered for free or at a low cost to the programme.

In order to join you must be from an AGORA registered institution.

Registration opens the 4th of May following this online form. You will need your name, email address, institution and AGORA userID.




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