TOWARDS IMPROVED AVAILABILITY AND ACCESS TO RESEARCH DATA: A WEB-BASED SOLUTION FOR KENYA
Access to research information is essential to growth of knowledge, as well as avoiding duplication of research and wastage of resources among other benefits. However, lack of / limited access to research data and information remains a major challenge in the conduct of research in Kenya, with past studies pointing to inadequate sources of research data and networking facilities. In this paper, we present the progress of our work aimed at improving availability and accessibility of research data/information in Kenya. This involves developing a central database that will consolidate research conducted at the institutions of higher learning in Kenya, to be accessed through a web based portal. The portal will provide an interface through which researchers can create and update records regarding their various research projects, allow for various analyses to be made and provide for search facilities under various criteria depending on researcher needs. A desk based survey was used to identify the system requirements. This involved studying a number of similar solutions to identify functionalities that would be applicable to the Kenyan case. In addition, reference to past studies with respect to challenges facing Kenyan researchers in accessing research data contributed towards requirements definition. An open source database development technology MySQL is used to build the relational database, accessed by PHP scripts on Apache web server. The resulting system will act as a central hub of research information in Kenya. It is expected to impact on improved availability and access, as well as promote collaboration and networking amongst researchers. Major beneficiaries include researchers, university research departments and policy makers at both the university and national level. An extensive evaluation with the intended users is recommended after roll out, to confirm the expected benefits.