Supporting research communities with the Research4Life Country Connectors

Published: Thursday 4th July 2024
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As the first quarter of 2024 unfolded, the Research4Life Country Connectors program, primarily funded by the Elsevier Foundation, continued its mission of bridging the digital divide in research. Despite national elections and leadership changes in some countries, the program has thrived, driven by local collaborations, capacity-building initiatives and strategic partnerships. In this blog post, we highlight the impact and personal stories, showcasing how the Country Connectors are making a difference.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Tailored solutions for researchers

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which joined the program in late 2023, the Country Connectors conducted a survey among researchers and academicians to better understand user needs. The survey aimed to address the causes of low usage of Research4Life services and tailor solutions to strengthen the research ecosystem – laying the groundwork for a more informed and impactful approach to supporting researchers in the DRC.

Kyrgyzstan: New beginnings and strong support

Kyrgyzstan is the latest country to join the Country Connectors program. The first quarter featured presentations at international conferences, orientations with support committees, and the identification of local scientific publishers. Outstanding support from partner institutions has set a promising foundation for future activities.

Senegal: Overcoming election disruptions

In Senegal, national elections caused disruptions, but the Country Connectors used this time to analyze local publishers and develop relationships. The year started with discussions to formalize collaborations with regional research bodies, setting the stage for impactful work in the coming quarters.

El Salvador: Streamlined communication and engagement

In El Salvador, the Country Connector institution developed a chatbot to streamline communication and direct users to a dedicated Research4Life page. This innovation has centralized interactions and facilitated direct communication with interested users, enhancing the overall efficiency of the program.

Ghana: Leveraging library associations for greater reach

In Ghana, the partnership with the Ghana Library Association (GLA) has proven effective in reaching a geographically large and growing research community, sharing information about Research4Life webinars and resources. Participation in the WACREN conference facilitated South-South collaboration, with Country Connectors from Ghana and Sierra Leone exchanging ideas and strategies.

Kenya: Rapid progress in the research sector

Kenya has made significant strides in the research sector, supported by national policies and strong professional associations. The first quarter featured virtual meetings and outreach activities targeting low and un-using institutions. Over 30 ambassadors participated in these efforts, highlighting the collaborative spirit and commitment to advancing research in Kenya.

The first quarter of 2024 has progressed the approaches in working with users in the countries and regions. The activities, plans and partnerships are key in the Country Connectors’ work, especially when well supported and aligned to the central goals of Research4Life, thanks to the assistance of Program Lead Blessing Mawire and Senior Advisor Lenny Rhine. Overall, the evaluation of outcomes and impact enables the work in the countries to look to bigger measures against the SDGs, while understanding how to better fill the existing gaps.