A series of discussion with friends and my advisor and a serious
thought process took place whether to post this survey (which is
part of my doctoral dissertation) on this very important forum. I
hope members of this forum, whose major interest is African
communication, will find this email survey appropriate for the
forum as well as interesting, for it explores the culture and
scope of communication by African scientists. To briefly
introduce myself, I am an Ethiopian doctoral candidate and a
research assistant at the Center for International Higher
Education, Boston College, USA. [More below.] I am sure many of
you have walked thru the same process I currently find myself
and hope you will kindly participate. I also appreciate if you
point me another relevant forum I can post this.
I am an Ethiopian doctoral candidate and a research assistant at
the Center for International Higher Education in School of
Education, at Boston College, USA. I have a strong interest and
expertise in information generation, development, and
dissemination in Africa. Currently, I am coordinating an African
project to publish a comprehensive Higher Education Handbook here
at the Center.
Concurrently, I am undertaking a dissertation-based research on
scientific communication in African institutions and the role of
external agencies. I am kindly sending you this open-ended
question to participate in this study.
By external agencies, I am referring to organizations whose
resources are generated abroad such as IDRC, IMF, ODA, SIDA, The
World Bank, and USAID. Also note that by scientific communication
I am referring to channels of scientific knowledge transmission
such as journals, conferences, and correspondence with peers and
Please kindly note that the significance of this study largely
depends on your OPEN, CRITICAL, and EXTENSIVE reflections.
Needless to say, your responses and identity will be treated with
the strictest confidentiality. If you would like to receive the
summary of this study, please include your address (preferably an
Thank you very much in advance for your time, effort, and energy
to make this study fruitful! Please forward this questionnaire to
friends, colleagues, or those who you may hope can contribute to
School of Education, Boston College
Campion 207B, MA 02467, USA
Email: [log in to unmask]
The Questionnaire follows.
A. PERSONAL PROFILE
A-1. Gender:___ A-2. Age:___ A-3. Nationality:____________
A-4. Qualification (B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph. D.):______ A-5.
A-7. Are you a member of a scientific society?___ If yes, where
is it based?________
A-8. Have you ever had an editorial responsibility in a
scientific society?_______ Name of the position___________
A-9. Where do you currently work?_______________________
A-10. Name and address (if you wish to receive the summary of
B. QUESTIONS RELATED TO SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS
B-1a. How many articles/book chapters/books have you published in
referred scientific journals in your discipline area?
b. Were there any challenges in publishing these? If yes, what
B-2a. How many articles/book chapters/books do you publish in a
typical year? Please be specific. Domestically?___
b. How do you describe the trend of your productivity over the
last five years?
C. Is your promotion dependent on publishing in your field?
B-3a. Does your institution publish scientific
b. Do you subscribe to these or other nationally produced
journals?____If not, why?
c. What other scientific communication activities does your
B-4a. Do you have access to international (Western) scientific
journals in your field?____
b. Do you have access to regional (African) scientific journals
in your field?______
c. If you do, please describe how important and relevant the
regional journals are to you compared to other (similar and/or
related) international scientific journals?
d. Do you (personally) subscribe to any regional or
international scientific journals?____ If not, why?
B-5a. What are your major means (sources) of scientific
communication currently (journals, conferences, etc.)? Why are
b. Please rank your communication media in the order of
decreasing significance (like, for example, journals>local
c. What are the major challenges to this/these means of
B-6a. Do you know of a journal in your discipline which is no
longer issued on paper (i.e., only available on-line)?_____
b. If you do, do you have access to it?
c. Would you like to publish on such journals? Why?
C. QUESTIONS RELATED TO OTHER MEANS OF SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION
C-1a. How many scientific conferences/seminars do you attend in a
Local___ Regional (African)___ International___ None___.
b. Which one describes most your typical professional meeting?
Conference____ Seminar_____ Workshop_____ Other (specify)____
c. Who has typically funded your participation? Your institution
(a local source)___ Project grants (external agencies)___
Personal resources___ Other (Specify)________.
d. If you do not attend, why?
C-2a. Do you have access to computers (PC)?____
b. If yes, are they networked?___
c. How many hours a week can you use them?____
C-3a. Do you have access to any "new" means of communication
(i.e., email, the Internet (WWW), CDROM, online databases)?___
b. If you do, please list all of
c. How many hours a week can you access them? (Please list
separately, if more than one.)
d. Please describe its/their impact on your work as regards to
research, teaching, and scientific communication?
e. What challenges do you face using/lacking them?
C-4a. Who initiated the development of the new communication
medium/media in your institution (e.g., external agencies, your
b. Who currently support(s) it?_________
c. How many years has your institution received this
d. How do you evaluate the objectives of the initiative(s)
vis-à-vis the achievements?
C-5a. Informal communications in research, such as soliciting and
exchanging expert opinions, between fellow scientists is a common
phenomenon. How important informal communications are to you
between and among your local, regional (African), and
international fellow scientists?
b. Please rank the frequency of your communications in a typical
year by descending order (like, for example,
D. QUESTIONS RELATED TO SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION AND EXTERNAL
D-1a. Please list specifically those external agencies that
granted you support in the last 5 to 10 years (for example,
attending conferences, subscribing to relevant journals,
establishing email/Internet communication,
b. Would you say that you have become increasingly reliant on
these sources over the years?___ Why?
D-2a. Do you allocate expenses in your grant proposals for the
purposes of scientific communication?___
b. If you do, please specify the
c. How are they regarded by (local and/or external) grantors?
d. If you do not allocate communication expenses, why?
D-3. In the course of evaluating grant proposals, do you think
external agencies give equal weight to articles published locally
and internationally? Why?
D-4a. Would you say that external agencies closely work with your
institution to help develop local scientific communication
b. Do you know if these external agencies cooperate with each
c. What do you think about coordinating the resources of these
D-5a. Please describe your opinion regarding the support of
external agencies in developing scientific communication in your
b. What would you recommend these organizations do differently
to help? Why?
D-6. Notwithstanding variations within countries, studies show
that African research and development depend on external sources
for about 70% of its expenditure. Do you believe that a viable,
more robust, and competitive scientific research and
communication infrastructure can be established based solely or
predominantly on external resources? Why?
D-7. What do you think the fate of African universities and their
scientific communities—that heavily rely on external agencies to
access, generate, and package knowledge—be in the face of
stricter regulations in the West regarding knowledge
E. GENERAL QUESTIONS
E-1a. How do you evaluate the role of your institution in
promoting scientific communication?
b. What should it do differently? Why?
E-2. As a scientist, do you feel isolated from frontiers of
scientific research? If you do, what do you do to overcome it?
E-3. Please note here any relevant remarks that are not covered
by these questions.
Thank you very much for your time!