Exploring Digital Tools & Strategies for Improving Research (Webinar Video Included)

Exploring digital tools & strategies for improving research by Tendai Mataranyika

Open scholarship has become both a research approach and a pathway through which academic and research institutions describe, preserve, exhibit, and share research outputs. Open scholarship is philosophically premised on removing access barriers to knowledge artifacts, processes, and products that are well endorsed and supported by research funders. There are various forms of Open scholarship which include Open Access, Open Data, Open Education Resources, and Open Evaluation, amongst others. Interestingly, the global ranking of universities and research institutions by institutions such as Times Higher Education, QS World University Rankings, and Shanghai Ranking, consider citation metrics demonstrating the impact of research as a critical factor for ranking.

With the ubiquity of Information Communication Technologies and access to the Internet, it thus has become easy for academic and research institutions to leverage digital platforms in increasing visibility and access to their research outputs. The webinar thus focused on how Higher Education Institutions in South Africa may develop Research Support Services for students and staff so that they can use Open Data and Open Access publishing for enhancing the reach and impact of their research output.

Research Data Management (RDM) as a research support service explored how collected, observed, or created research data was shared. At the core of RDM, it was pointed out that most research funders such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corp of New York, Lumina Foundation for Education, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation emphasized open sharing of research data that ensured data findability, accessibility, interoperability and usability as a pre-requisite to research funding. As such attendees were taken through Data Management Planning platforms such as www.dmptool.org and https://datacite.org/. Cloud-based digital data storage platforms were presented with examples drawn from Figshare, Zenodo, Dataverse, and Dryad.

Open Access publishing of research outputs such as journal articles, theses, and dissertations was presented, and applicable models were discussed. Important to note was the growth in Open Access publishers and Open Academic journals as illustrated on www.doaj.org, www.doab.org, and www.ajol.info/index.php/ajol. The overarching aim here was to show channels where consumers of research had unlimited access to research. As such the need for training and capacity development of senior students and researchers at Higher Education Institutions in this regard cannot be overemphasized.

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