A new wave is blowing across Africa’s research data management (RDM) landscape through the LIBSENSE Early Career Researcher (ECR) Programme, starting with ongoing initiatives in Ghana and Nigeria.

The LIBSENSE ECR programme, a collaborative effort supported by the FCDO-UK and the AfricaConnect3 project, aims to support the development and empowerment of early career researchers in Africa. Focusing on best practices in RDM and research ethics, the program fosters the formation of ECR Advocacy Groups. These groups, composed of librarians, research administrators, and academics, collaborate to advance institutional and national RDM policies and practices. By promoting open science and responsible research processes, the LIBSENSE ECR programme seeks to enhance research visibility, transparency, and quality across the African continent with your invaluable support.

The two successful workshops, held in Lagos and Accra earlier this year, were instrumental in mobilising two Early Career Researcher Groups (ECRs) in Ghana and Nigeria. These workshops disseminated international best practices on RDM and fostered a community of practice on RDM and research ethics, thereby enhancing awareness and knowledge in these areas.

The two ECR groups are beginning to implement plans following the Workshops. In Ghana, plans are underway to enhance awareness of RDM through a coordinated awareness campaign that will organise workshops, seminars, and webinars targeting librarians, researchers, research institutes, and students across several universities and technical institutions to reach all public universities. The intention is to establish vibrant RDM advocacy groups on university campuses.

The Ghana team intends to develop and implement a train-the-trainer strategy to diffuse knowledge of RDM practices and processes. The training will focus on developing standardised training modules and materials on best practices for research data management. Policymakers will invest in RDM infrastructure and resources.

Ghana’s efforts will hinge on capacity building, collaboration, and networking. The team plans to provide mentorship and fellowship programs, conduct feasibility studies, and foster partnerships with local and international RDM advocacy groups. They will also participate in conferences to stay updated on trends and developments.

In Nigeria, the RDM advocacy group plans to conduct research to review existing national research and RDM policies and plan activities to address capacity deficits and knowledge gaps. This will engage different actors in the RDM stakeholder matrix, including Vice Chancellors and their equivalents, university research administrators, faculty members, and postgraduate students. A pilot project will be launched to implement a national metadata schema for electronic theses and dissertations across a network of three libraries in Nigeria.