“Users are a powerful voice: they actively contribute to shaping Research4life”

Published: Thursday 9th March 2023
Category: Blog

Research4Life partners contribute to its success by taking on a wide variety of positions on its committees and working groups, making sure that the Partnership keeps serving its users in the best way possible.

Mercy Moyo is the Deputy Director for Research and Training at ITOCA (Information Training & Outreach Centre for Africa), a non-profit focused on building capacity amongst the research and education communities. She serves as Secretariat of the Research4life User Group, and today she tells us about the Group’s activities.

Why are we fundraising for Research4Life?

While we have accomplished a tremendous amount through volunteer efforts and in-kind contributions, scaling-up remains challenging.

Can you take us back to the beginning: what made you start volunteering with the Partnership?

ITOCA has been leading outreach and training activities for Research4Life since 2002. Through this work, ITOCA has built a network of users across the continent and helped create a link between Research4life programs and their users. Having realized the importance of having the users’ voices in the Partnership, in 2012 ITOCA spearheaded the formation of the Research4life User Group, providing volunteer secretariat support for this position.

The Group provides a forum for direct engagement between the user community and Research4life – it’s a space for giving a more prominent voice to users in low- and middle-income countries, in particular with publishing partners.

They also help with early identification of trends, unmet needs, problems and opportunities from the research and library communities in the Global South. The Group really nurtures champions for Research4Life, and the research culture in general, within eligible countries – helping to deliver on the Research4Life Strategic Plan’s goal to mobilize user communities and support community building.

What is one (or more!) project you’re most proud of – or that was interesting for you to work on?

When I took over heading the Group’s secretariat in 2017, the participation of group members was low. Over the years, we managed to build up the Group to ensure more participation from the members. Through these efforts, membership has grown from about 20 individuals to more than 100 members, representing most of the Research4Life-eligible countries!

The group consists primarily of librarians/information specialists, academic staff, and researchers) mainly from educational and research institutions. The group meet quarterly to discuss user-related issues in Research4life and since 2017, meeting participation has also developed and is now more vibrant than before, contributing immensely to the Group’s purpose.

Working with the Partnership can be a lot of work! What makes you passionate about Research4Life?

I am passionate about Research4life because by providing access to the needed scientific information, the Partnership helps researchers in the developing world to find local solutions to problems in health, agriculture, environment, science, technology, and legal information – really contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.

How have you seen the partnership change over time?

ITOCA started working with Research4life in 2002 upon the launch of Hinari, the first collection led by the WHO. Over the years, we have seen the growth of the Partnership with four other UN agencies coming on board: FAO, UNEP, WIPO and ILO. There has also been a tremendous increase in the number of publishers, information resources accessible through the program, and users. Launching the new content portal was also a welcome development, giving users an easy and seamless user experience – and several User Group members were involved with testing the new portal when it was first launched.

What are you looking forward to – any new activity you’re going to work on?

The new Research4life Strategic Plan places the user at the centre of the Partnership. Together with Sarah Phibbs, Director of Research4life Publisher Partnerships, we are working to engage even more with the User Group members to advise on future direction and projects. The users are a powerful voice, and we want to make sure they’re visible and relevant and can actively contribute to shaping Research4life’s objectives.

And finally, tell us about yourself! What do you like doing in your spare time?

I am a gym fanatic! I’m in the gym 5 to 6 times a week: keeping active revives my vitality!