Technology

Research app closing the science knowledge gap

tech

Researchers from East Africa region now have an online platform that will enhance visibility of the research. The web-based application (app) known as Script Connect seeks to enhance the linkage between researchers and science journalists.

It was developed and funded by Robert Busch foundation in collaboration with the Scidev.net, the UK- based publication that focuses on news analysis of science for development in the countries in the global south.

Dr Charles Wendo, the Global SciDev training coordinator, said that the move was necessitated by the need to close the knowledge gap in the region.

“We realised that there is gap in that researchers don’t share new research with fellow researchers as well as science journalists. With this application will help to bridge this gap,” explained Dr Wendo, during the three-day inaugural Science Journalism Conference organised by Moi University in collaboration with other stakeholders.

Currently, the app developers are in the process of enlisting agriculture scientists before rolling out to other branches of science such as health.

“There is little science reported in Africa yet we face many challenges which 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 you to the expert,” he disclosed.

Scholars and scientists have long argued that research ought to be translated into indigenous languages to enable more local communities to understand them better.

Of the 1.1 per cent of research generated by African scientists, there is low uptake of scientific research by policy actors to inform evidence-based decisions, said Patterson Siena, a director of policy engagement at African Population and Health Research Centre.

“Although there is an increase in research, Africa still faces a number of issues such as low agricultural productivity and disease burden that can be solved through science. For science to impact on livelihoods, scientists and journalists need to work together and with use of local languages they will have more impact,” observed Mr Siena.

Prof Nancy Booker from Agha Khan University noted there is a need to build capacity for researchers to enable them to better communicate effectively their research to the public.

“Often, scientists shy away from engaging the journalists to share their research. What we need is to build capacity for the researchers to effectively communicate their findings or innovations,” said Prof Booker.

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