Research app bridges the scientific knowledge gap
Researchers in the East Africa region now have an online platform that will improve research visibility. The web application (app) known as Script Connect aims to improve the connection between researchers and science journalists.
It was developed and funded by the Robert Busch Foundation in collaboration with Scidev.net, the UK-based publication that focuses on analysis of science news for development in the Global South.
Dr. Charles Wendo, Global SciDev training coordinator, said the move was necessitated by the need to fill the knowledge gap in the region.
“We realized that there is a loophole in researchers not sharing new research with fellow researchers as well as science journalists. This app will help bridge that gap,” explained Dr. Wendo, at the inaugural three-day Science Journalism Conference organized by Moi University in collaboration with other stakeholders.
Currently, app developers are enlisting agricultural scientists before moving into other branches of science such as health.
“There is little scientific data reported in Africa, but we face many challenges that science will provide solutions such as hunger, health and environmental destruction. If you are looking for a plant breeder in Tanzania , this app will help you connect to the expert,” he revealed.
Scholars and scientists have long argued that research needs to be translated into indigenous languages to enable more local communities to better understand them.
Of the 1.1% of research generated by African scientists, there is little adoption by policy actors of scientific research to inform evidence-based decisions, said Patterson Siena, director of policy engagement at the African Center for Research on population and health.
“Although there is an increase in research, Africa still faces a number of challenges such as low agricultural productivity and disease burden that can be addressed through science. For science to have an impact on livelihoods, scientists and journalists need to work together and with the use of local languages they will have more impact,” observed Mr Siena.
Professor Nancy Booker of Agha Khan University noted that there is a need to build the capacity of researchers to enable them to better communicate their research effectively to the public.
“Scientists are often reluctant to ask journalists to share their research. What we need is to build the capacity of researchers to effectively communicate their findings or innovations,” Professor Booker said.