FAO of the United Nations in conjunction with WorldFish and Research4Life is organizing two workshops at the University of Yangon and Yezin University in Myanmar this month. The workshops are aimed at raising awareness of key trends in scientific publishing in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as providing access to information and research in these fields.
2015 marked a shift in scientific publishing. While the research community still has to compete for funding there is fresh emphasis on research data sets being “intelligently open” (otherwise known as Open Data*) so that others can use them. Since the adoption of the new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda the question of Open Data and Open Science* - and in particular ways of accessing and managing those information sources, is at the forefront of the debate.
With the goal of drawing together experts from research organizations in Myanmar, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, WorldFish and Research4Life are organizing a series of workshops aimed at raising awareness of key trends in scientific publishing in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. These workshops will look at ways that free access to information and research on agriculture, forestry and fisheries is provided, as well as supporting researchers in data management and publication.
Fisheries play a crucial role as a source of livelihood for millions of people in Myanmar with fish being one of the most important food groups. Forestry regeneration in the country has the power to enhance the livelihood benefits of the population both through livelihood oriented forest management and marketing development.
Although Myanmar is the largest country in South East Asia it also one of the poorest, with poverty disproportionately concentrated in rural areas where the majority of the population lives. Compounding this, visibility and access to information about poverty in Myanmar is lacking, making it hard to identify key restraints to the future development of aquaculture and forestry management, especially their role in alleviating poverty. Emerging threats from population growth, conflict and climate change, particularly natural disasters, exacerbate the challenge.
According to a national survey on social protection and poverty reduction presented by the FAO in conjunction with Myanmar’s Department of Rural Development, priority in Myanmar should be given to vulnerable fishing communities for poverty reduction and rural development, particularly to increase access to appropriate and effective social assistance.
In the context of these overlapping demands there is a need for well-designed programs and projects that draw attention to the range of free agricultural information resources available to researchers. Strengthening access to agricultural, forestry and fisheries-related data, and indeed training people to use these research tools in Myanmar, has enormous potential to make a difference to people’s lives, as well as for the country to fulfill wider Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The main focus of the workshops is to introduce two databases: AGORA and the International System for Agricultural Science and Technology (AGRIS) – two research tools that give researchers in low-income countries access to a wealth of scientific research and information on agriculture.
The workshops will provide an overview of the overarching structure of the two databases, giving guidance on how best to search through the range of research materials.
In addition, day two of the Yangon University workshop features a special panel session on “Access to Scientific Information in Myanmar” with presentations from two speakers.
AGORA, AGRIS, Research4Life
Set up by FAO of the UN together with major publishers (Elsevier has provided over a quarter of the content), AGORA provides developing countries with access to an outstanding digital library in the fields of food, agriculture, environmental science and related social sciences, providing a collection of over 6,000 journals and 5,800 books in over 100 low-income countries.
AGRIS is a FAO-maintained global public database providing bibliographic information on agricultural science and technology. Like AGORA its chief goal is to improve access to and the exchange of agricultural information in developing countries. Over 150 institutions from 65 countries contribute to the AGRIS network. Alongside search results AGRIS links to other sources on the web, further enriching knowledge.
The goal of Research4Life is to reduce the knowledge gap between high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries by providing affordable access to critical scientific research. Research4Life is the collective name for the four programmes – HINARI, AGORA, OARE and ARDI – that provide developing countries with free or low cost access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content online
The organizers of these events are WorldFish, Research4Life, FAO of the United Nations, GODAN, University of Yangon and University of Yenzin.