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Open Research Africa

Broad science area:
Data, Policy and Open Science

Data, Policy and Open Science | Science Prioritisation & Policy Engagement for Africa (SPEAR) |Open Research Africa



The SFA Foundation Open Science Initiative specifically aims to support a diverse scientific community tool builders, trainers, and organisations working in support of open-source software and other tools and structures to accelerate our understanding of the three thematic areas of our work of health, climate and Agriculture R&D, and their interconnectedness. Open science makes a difference only when research data is more widely disseminated easier and more equitable. But for researchers in Africa, multiple additional layers, subtle and not so subtle, introduce barriers to research sharing.

The SFA Foundation strongly believes that we must value the importance of open science through open research publishing in an open environment, where sharing is not unnecessarily delayed, ownership rights are retained by authors and transparency prevails throughout the process.

As such, the Science for Africa Foundation community is dedicated to the principles of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) publishing. Open Research Africa (ORA), a partnership of SFA Foundation and F1000, offers researchers the opportunity to share their findings on a rapid, peer-reviewed, indexed and accessible platform. ORA offers SFA-affiliated researchers a streamlined submission process which supports rapid publication of research outputs, thereby accelerating the dissemination of knowledge and the pace of new discoveries. Open, post-publication peer review promotes understanding of the review and revision process, eliminating unnecessary editorial delays, and removing peer review bias. Once published, all content on Open Research Africa is made available to researchers, patients, teachers, journalists – anyone -- free-of-charge. Research that passes peer review is indexed in major databases such as PubMed and Scopus.

ORA also offers sister research organisations in Africa a dedicated space, Gateways, to share and promote all of their research outputs rapidly and transparently via a bespoke publishing portal. These include the African Excellence Research Fund (AREF) and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). We are also working with the World Continuing Education Alliance (WCEA) to enable them to provide healthcare professionals with access to relevant research and support their continued professional development (CPD).

Open Research Africa provides support for early career researchers by providing greater visibility and better recognition of their research outputs and enabling submission of a wide diversity of article types, such as method articles, study protocols and software tools. The platform will also provide career development and training tools, resources and events dedicated to themes around open research tailored to the needs of African researchers.

Open Research Africa accepts submissions from all researchers funded by the SFA Foundation, including affiliated researchers of the Wellcome-supported DELTAS Africa and H3Africa initiatives.. African Academy of Sciences (AAS), African Society for Human Genetics (AfSHG), African Population Research Center (APHRC) and African Excellence Research Fund (AREF)-affiliated researchers are also invited to submit.

For more information on Open Research Africa or research sharing at SFA Foundation, visit: here.

Open Research Africa provides greater visibility and better recognition of research outputs from African scientists

How will science policy engagement drive impact:

  • If R&I is to deliver maximum impact and positively change the lives of African people and societies, findings from Africa led R&I research programmes should be translated into recommendations that can be implemented within policy and practice in Africa.
  • Contribute to efficiency and effectiveness within programmes through best practice.
  • Ensure the right questions are formulated, asked, and answered through an African lens.
  • Highlight gaps and key points of evidence within context and in an accurate manner to facilitate comprehension and use.
  • Promote shared understanding, trust and collaboration for meaningful work that drives change regionally and globally
  • Place African experts and policymakers at the centre of science-led policymaking processes in Africa
  • Place contextually relevant data and perspectives at the centre of science-led decision-making process in Africa.

Activities being implemented by SPEAR

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Data Science policy gaps from an African perspective. The African STI landscape is witnessing the emergence of AI and Data Science across various sectors. However, for these technologies to have their full positive impact, it is crucial to develop trust among stakeholders and formulate contextualized policies that support their implementation in the region. This grant aims to address these areas by:

  • Convening African stakeholders to examine and comprehend the policy gaps in AI and Data Science in global health from an African perspective, focusing on but not limited to genomics, clinical trials/drug development, and epidemics/pandemics.
  • In collaboration with African partners, identifying the research and development goals of AI and data science for the betterment of global health from an African perspective.
  • Engaging the public on AI and Data Science policy

" If scientific results are not shared broadly, then the societal benefits are significantly limited. We have a responsibility to ensure that policymakers have access to the best, relevant and up-to-date knowledge available. To achieve Africa’s sustainable development goals, it is critical that policy decisions are informed by contextually relevant evidence”. - Uzma Alam, SPEAR programme lead.