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Question 1: What are we sharing and what needs to be shared?

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Question 1: What are we sharing and what needs to be shared?

The landscape of information and data flows and repositories is multifaceted. Peer reviewed journals and scientific conferences are still the basis of scholarly communication, but science blogs and social community platforms become increasingly important. Research data are now increasingly managed using advanced technologies and sharing of raw data has become an important issue. 

This topic thread will address and discuss details about the types of information that need to be shared in our domain, e.g.:

  Information residing in communications between individuals, such as in blogs and
community platforms supported by sources such as directories of people and
institutions;

  Formal scientific data collections as published data sets and their associated
metadata and quality indicators, peer-reviewed scholarly journals or document
repositories;

  Knowledge „derivatives‟ such as collections of descriptions of agricultural
technologies, learning object repositories, expertise databases, etc.; And surely more...

Schema of data repositories and flows in agricultural research and extension. Data flows

There are several interesting examples of successful data exchange between distributed datasets, and some of them in the area of agricultural research and innovation. There are also ambitious attempts that still have to live up to expectations. A common characteristic of most examples is that they are based on specific ad-hoc solutions more than on a general principle or architecture, thus requiring  coordination between  "tightly coupled"  components and limiting the possibilities of re-using the datasets anywhere and  of replicating the experiment.

In some  areas there are global platforms for sharing and interoperability. Some of these address the need to access scholarly publications, mostly those organized by the publishers, and others address the interfacing of open archives. With regard to standards and services in support of interoperability, there are several very successful initiatives, each dealing with different data domains. Among document repositories, the most successful initiative is surely the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Protocol for Metadata Harvesting used by a global network of open archives. The strength of this movement is changing the face of scholarly publishing.  Geospatial and remote sensing data have strong communities that have developed a number of wildly successful standards such as OGC that have in turn spurred important open source projects such as GeoServer. Finally, in relation to  statistics  from surveys, censuses and time-series, there has been considerable global cooperation among international organizations leading to initiatives such as SDMX and DDI, embraced by the World Bank, IMF, UNSD, OECD and others.

Singer  System1, GeoNetwork2, and GeneOntology Consortium3 are examples of successful initiatives to create mechanisms for data exchange within scientific communities. The SDMX4 initiative aims to create a global exchange standard for statistical data.

There are more examples, but these advanced systems cannot have a strong impact on the average (smaller, less capacitated) agricultural information systems, because  overall there are no easy mechanisms and tools for information systems developers to access, collect and mash up data from distributed sources. An infrastructure of standards, web sevices and tools needs to be created.

 


1 Singer System http://singer.cgiar.org/ Last accessed March 2011
2 GeoNetwork
http://www.fao.org/geonetwork/srv/en/main.home Last accessed March 2011
3 GeneOntology Consortium
http://www.geneontology.org/ Last accessed March 2011
4 SDMX
http://sdmx.org/ Last accessed March 201

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Re: What are we sharing and what needs to be shared?

Anyone mind if I start?

Hi, Simon Wilkinson from NACA, a regional inter-governmental organisation that facilitates cooperation in aquaculture R&D between member states.

NACA is a highly distributed organisation with a limited budget so we have a great interest in sharing information and experience electronically, although most of research centres in the network still have limited capacity to make use of IT. Aquaculture is lagging a long way behind terrestrial agriculture in this regard.

The main thing we share in electronic form is aquaculture publications. Since 2002 we have had a policy of making all publications available for free download from our website (www.enaca.org), mainly in PDF. More recently we have also started publishing audio recordings of technical presentations in MP3 for download/streaming and podcast feeds.

The NACA website is produced with a conventional content management system (CMS). Like most such tools, it was designed to build websites to view on screen. It is Google-friendly, ties into various social media and is great for presenting information to people. However, it doesn't follow any accepted metadata standard and does not offer any structured way to share data with machines.

We would like to share/federate our publication metadata with other digital libraries. So we have been doing some work to develop publication modules for the CMS that i) use standard Dublin Core metadata fields and ii) support the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAIPMH), which are released as open source projects.

Regards

Simon Wilkinson
Communications Manager
Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific

 

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Researcher's workflows

There is a different angle: how does all this fit in the internal processes of a research group? At what stage are there sharable products?  The UK Research Information Network and the British Library have published a study on information exchange patterns within 7 research groups in the life sciences. See http://www.rin.ac.uk/our-work/using-and-accessing-information-resources/... .  The first thing that struck me is the limited role of literature, bearing in mind that scientific performance of researchers is assessed to a large  extent on the basis of their publications and how they are cited. But most important is of course the diverse ways of working, and one of the most important conclusions is, in my view: 
"- Data and information sharing activities are mainly driven by needs and bene?ts perceived as most important by life scientists rather than top-down policies and strategies
- There are marked differences in the patterns of information use and exchange between research groups active in different areas of the life sciences, reinforcing the need to avoid standardised policy approaches"

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beyond the researchers' community

This study on information exchange patterns gives an interesting perspective...

Of course, given its scope, this study is focussed on exchange among scientists.
I think what most of the other stakeholders in agriculture (donors, extensionists, farmers) are concerned with is the sharing of heterogeneous information (scientific, raw data, management data) among different types of actors.
So, in my opinion, even if top-down information sharing policies apparently do not influence the way scientists exchange information, they may as well be needed if in the view of donors or project managers it is essential that scientific information is shared beyond the scientific community.

DLH
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Re:beyond the researchers' community

I completely agree with you!

Diane Le Hénaff

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Beyond the researcher's community, yes! and looking further.

Hi All,

I work at 3 different level (at local, as a farmer, at national, as adviser and consultnat for projects and gov, and at international as consultant and "positive-observer"), it's a difficult choice I made few years now, but sometimes in life you have to live that way to be more coherent with yourself (if you have the courage), and to be more accurate in your "perception" of the outside world.

I'm more a computer scientist and began to be seriously involved in ARD after the food crisis in 2008.

I agree with Valeria and will go further, we mustn't forget that this consultation comes with the interesting title "BUILDING THE CIARD FRAMEWORK FOR DATA AND INFORMATION SHARING" ...... yes and ... FOR WHAT? WHY WE ARE SHARING INFORMATION? FOR WHOM?

Many skilled technicians and recognized scientists will forget why they are doing research and why they must share.

I'm based in Madagascar and become more familiar to the African continent.

The context is very different from what we see in developed countries. Very few of the researchers in the West will understand the culture and the livelihood of these researchers.

Institutional data and information are sometimes considered personal goods by researchers because they consider they are not paid for what they are producing.

To share, one researcher must be convinced he has enough to share to others. But in poor countries, researchers  never reach that level of satisfaction of sufficiency.

Why?

1) Because they compare themselves to other researchers form countries where they've studied (rich countries). They look at the european or american researchers who is very well paid.

2) Because many don't see the small farmers who need their discoveries and who survive with an income 10 - 20 times lower.

As long as researchers do research with "my interest-first" in mind, they won't share. And as long as these researchers are contaminated by the high standards from western systems, they won't be motivated.

The CIARD FRAMEWORK must consider these dimensions: HUMAN, SOCIO-CULTURAL, SOCIO-ECONOMICAL if we want to build an inclusive, strong and coherent framework. Not just technical.

 

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selection of datasets

Another angle is: can we select what is stoered in a repository and what not.
Last year a  study  the two major Dutch data repositories (DANS and 3TU Datacentrum:was publihed  "Selection of Research Data: guidelines for appraising and selecting research data". ( http://www.surffoundation.nl/nl/themas/openonderzoek/cris/Documents/SURF... )  ) These guidelines have to be rather general, they have to cover the wide variety of data that science produces including  observational, experimental, model or simulation data, man-made versus machine-made (sensor) data, raw data or processed data". They distnguish between obligations (for re-use, verification, or general purposes such as cultural heritage or accountability). If no such obligation exists they point at uniqueness as an important reason for preservation. "In fact, these are all domains in the arts and sciences where research cannot be recreated".  The opposite of uniqueness is a repeatability of data generation: in experimental science there is a tendency to repeat observations after some time, probably with better techniques.
Where is agricultural data on this continuum?  A lot of it is simply unique, like  of earth observation data .  There are also an awful lot of field trials and cultivar tests. They are to some extent repeatable  but it takes time as crops takes time to grow.  If a proportion of that could be made available to the world in a sensible way we could mobilize a lot of "hidden knowledge".

DLH
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Re: What are we sharing and what needs to be shared?

Dear Simon,

You've done the first step by exposing the production in DC via an OAI module on the CMS. But it doesn't make the data being "open". It is the step of dissemination ...

I think the second step should go further with:

-> data and not only publications.

-> standardization using model & format that allow information sharing and reusability

It is not easy, especcially because current applications are based on relational databases, specific model & format. The database you presented is an example.

How ?

-> about data: we should integrate publications with projects, organisation, social network, researchers, raw data ...

See the CERIF model: http://www.eurocris.org/Uploads/Web%20pages/CERIF2008/CERIF2008_1.1_XML.pdf

See the VOA3R project that aims at integrating social network with open access publications...: http://voa3r.eu

-> by producing data under LOD (Linked Open Data)

AIMS is working on an excellent handbook called LODE Recommendations
Report on how to produce Linked Open Data (LOD)-enabled bibliographical data

It is very strategic to be able to share and reuse....

With kind regards,

Diane Le Hénaff, INRA

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Dreaming about a working environment, part 1

I am a researcher on organophosphorous pesticides. I am describing my desktop.

In the morning when I come into the lab, it is still empty. In the  topic box in the left hand corner of my desktop I write "Diazinon". Immediately my desktop starts getting populated. Centrally the manuscript appears from my cloud server on which I am working at the moment. In the lower part the desktop splits up in two boxes, one containing all the papers I am citing in my manuscript, the other one contains comprehensive bibliography on Diazinon. These streams come from openArchives and commercial journal publishers. Obviously I can filter the bibliography with one click by journals, authors, subtopics and I also can influence the relevance of the  order in which they appear.

On the right hand side of my desktop I find my datasets on the last toxicity test and enzyme activity measurements on Diazinon. But not only my datasets are there, but also the datasets of my two colleagues in the USA and China, who are working on the same questions. With one click I can align my datasets and their datasets and get them processed on a powerful computer in the cloud.   So in real time I can get data for the manuscript which I am writing.

 

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Dreaming about a working environment, part 2

Another box on my Desktop contains a RSS feed with news from all the science blogs on Diazinon and op Pesticides with the newest informal communications from the colleagues in the community.  It does not need to be mentioned that also all conferences are listed in another box. Both information streams have   inbuild filter mechanisms.

As I am also interested in the social implications of pesticide use, I have another RSS stream with pesticide  related news from 12 selected newspapers and magazines.

Another stream that I normall keep activitated are funding possibilities in the area...Money for our research is always needed. This stream does not only list funding agencies, but also gives information about conditions and people who could help in formulating the project.

There are many other features, which I did not activitate, because not closely related to my work:

- Legal situation in different countries on OP pesticides

- research groups and researchers

- tables with import restrictions from the Rotterdam Covention

- List of producers

- existing textbooks

and more......

 

Well, when I was a researcher on Diazinon, I did not have this environment. I could not even   dream about it, because we could not imagine what would be possible 20 years later.  Now, this is not anymore science fiction. We can create such a working environment if we want. We have to agree on standards and methodologies. The technology is already there  

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Another continent ... another dream ...

Let me share what researchers in African research centers use to say (see the digital divide in perspective):

- we don't have enough computers at work (this doesn't apply to CG centers based in Africa)

- we don't have internet connection or we have very weak connection

- we have no training to use specialized, scientific softwares ...

Of course, this comes with all the consequenses, what I see is:

- very few researchers know about Web 2.0

- very few know about the power of using networks and a central server, using a groupware ... well all the basics for developped countries.

So, Keizer, before dreaming of exploiting the power of todays computing equipments with intelligently structured information, the dream for Africa is far behind.

This is good to know, when we ask african researchers to share information and if we realy want them to share.

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I agree with you, even in my

I agree with you, even in my country (Madagascar) the situation is like that.

 

 

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Share everything you can, let consumers decide what to aggregate

I like the focus on LOD and RSS in the above posts. And also the mention of integrated relational "content models".
The difficulty is sometimes in sharing highly structured and integrated information in a simple way (like RSS) while retaining the relationships across different systems, but I'm sure this will be the subject of another discussion in another more technical thread of this e-consultation.

In reply to the question of "What needs to be shared", I think that it is not always obvious to imagine what can be useful to others. An Institution that produces scientific publications and manages projects in the area of plant diseases may decide to share only peer-reviewed articles, final project outputs and a list of projects, and then maybe what a certain extensionist in the field is looking for is a picture of a specific plant disease or the addresses of plant clinics in a certain country. That Institution may have had that picture in some project documentation and some addresses of plant clinics in its contact lists, but perhaps those "information objects" were not considered worth sharing. So the full potential of the information owned by the Institution is not exploited.
(I am speaking here independently of technical difficulties and other constraints in setting up a sharing environment, only focussing on "what needs to be shared")

What I mean is that we don't necessarily need to make an assessment of the usefulness of certain "information products" at the source level (except for a quality assessment of course): thanks to intelligent aggregators, consumer services and the final user can decide what information to assemble and from where.

But in order for intelligent aggregators to work, what matters is the "re-usability" (already mentioned by Diane above) of the information we share:
the more granularly we structure our contents (identifying the smallest possible information units), the better can other services re-use it and re-package it for different end-users.

So in my opinion any potentially useful piece of information is worth sharing, possibly as small information units with metadata, like single records (e.g. the name and specialization of an expert, or scientific data on a gene), single electronic resources (e.g. pictures or videos), even single semantic units automatically extracted from an article...
 

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mundane things

We can not ignore mundane issues. The aim of this and similar initiatives is to motivate people to  make things public that they did not untill now. To do so with  datasets public requires work. The originators have to add metadata for discovery, and document the data. i.e. explain how it was collected, what the parameters are, which files there are and what their technical format is,  etc.  DDI was mentioned in the introduction, it is one of the initiatives to standardoze that process at least for the socual sciences. So we have to think about the incentives. Scientists are much more pressed than they used to be say twenty years ago, struggling with time registry forms and competing for funds. They write publications anyway, and apart from the with to share discoveries they do so for their scientific reputation, so indirectly to gain a next round of funding. There is not necessarily a convergence of interest with commercial publishers. With the exception of textbooks authors of scientific works do not get paid better if more copies of their works are sold. So one can  at least argue that open access publishing may make their work more visible, and therefore may help with their reputation . I hope that these discussions will help justifying that scientists or their institutions invest in data curation. Therefore we should think about priorities, and as our colleague from  the Global Rust Foundation said, potential audiences.

 

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Sharing what- is a prioritisation possible?

Friends:

The starter piece is a well-formulated one. It does a good job of classifying what is shareable in three neat categories.

In my limited experience in supporting knowledge management in international agricultural research for about a decade, I found that there were many well-meaning initiatives in data sharing that did not get far even after many years. My understanding is that experts concerned might have been looking for technology solutions to emerge from within the international agricultural research sector, and it is not likely to happen. New synergies and relationships with what I can call "non-traditional" partners, such as a host of research institutions in ICT sector in developed as well as developing countries will be necessary.

I would thus tend to look at sharing transactional information (involving individuals and groups) and "derivatives" such as expert directories, learning material repositories, extension-oriented pieces and research documents as priority areas where a new paradigm in sharing can emerge. I can think of some interesting ongoing initiatives from which useful insights can be derived for future action.

Balaji

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Prioritising sharing based on audience ... but at what stage ..

I could not agree more with VBALAJI.

The information needs of every audience is different.

What farmers need are more information / knowledge packed products, while on the other hand, extensionists and researchers might be also interested on some raw data from which they can move forward.

More importantly, the focus should also be on misinterpretation. Imagine a grass root audience getting hold of partial information or data from an incomplete project. There is a high risk of negative interpretation - from partial data or partial conceptualisation.

Therefore, we need not only to prioritise / categorise information but also, we need to be clear at WHAT STAGE of an results / information production process can data be shared and with whom?

-Regards-

Sanjay from Mauritius

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Welcome, and will catch up more later

Greetings everyone, 

I am John Fereira from Albert R. Mann Library at Cornell University.  I've been working with CIARD and am a member of the CIARD Content Management Task Force and have recently done quite a bit of work on the CIARD RING site.  Rather than engage too much in the dicussion right now I'm going to wait until some of the later topics.  I had a bit of an incident yesterday (a house fire) that has me out of work for at least a day or so.  I've got some minor burns but am otherwise fine as our the rest of my family.   I do have some things that I want to contribute in regards to OAI-PMH and other CIARD RING, and information sharing technologies we're working with but I'll keep reading for and add my input over the next few days.  

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audience?

I would also think to consider asking "with whom are we sharing this information?"

Are we assuming that everyone that needs/wants access to data has the same technological profile?  It seems like this discussion is framed along the lines of one person has database X and another person has database Y, how do we share information between those two systems.  But what the user that has neither database X or Y, simply a web browser and a question? 

As an example, I work with the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (www.globalrust.org) and we are currently trying to synthesize data from many other institutions so that the end-users (breeders and farmers) will only have to go to one place on the web to answer specific questions.  The technical knowledge of these end-users varies from very tech savvy to not at all.

Perhaps this is an entirely different question for a different discussion, but I would think that questions relating to sharing of data needs to consider the audience.

 

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First Brazilian contributions to forum

Hi there!

Embrapa is today recognized worldwide as reference in tropical agriculture. Knowledge produced by Embrapa is huge and needs to be more widespread, because most of it is conventionally presented as publications in scientific journals. Contents of digital information on the Internet are still restricted to the Brazilian scientific community, mainly because they are mostly presented in Portuguese language.

Use of the Web 2.0 ICTs tools by Embrapa is practically incipient and, as institutional resource for information and communication, still lacks a systematic proposal. Interoperability between various information systems that Embrapa has ever produced is also weak. Embrapa has several digital online information systems (see list below with their links), but all have no translation to other languages which hampers its use in a more global basis.

Embrapa Informática Agropecuária, located in Campinas, Brazil (www.cnptia.embrapa.br) , wants to develop solutions to these problems and is currently working on three main approaches:

  1. Using tools of knowledge representation (ontologies, topic maps) and terminological processing of the information, aiming at the Semantic Web (including translation at least into English);
  2. Construction of computing environments for Web interactivity, similar to the Indian proposal of Agropedia Indica, embedding Web 2.0 ICTs  (social media);
  3. Development of interoperability between information systems and Embrapa´s databases.

Over the next few days of my participation in this forum, I can provide more detailed information on the subject.

Some Embrapa´s digital information systems:
·    Agritempo http://www.agritempo.gov.br/index.php
·    AgroLivre (Free Software Network for Agriculture) http://www.agrolivre.gov.br/
·    AINFO http://www.ainfo.cnptia.embrapa.br/index.php/Página_principal
·    BDPA http://www.bdpa.cnptia.embrapa.br/
·    Embrapa Information Agency http://www.agencia.cnptia.embrapa.br/
·    Infoteca-e (Information Technology in Agriculture) http://www.infoteca.cnptia.embrapa.br/
·    Scientific Production Embrapa http://www.prodemb.cnptia.embrapa.br/
·    Virtual Diagnosis http://diagnose2.cnptia.embrapa.br/diagnose/
Obs.: I can send more details about each of these systems in another post, if desired.
 

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Re: What are we sharing and what needs to be shared?

I am Peter Ballantyne from ILRI (http://www.ilri.org), based in Addis Ababa.

Nice to see the range of ideas here, and several old and new names!

Seems we are really discussing 2 questions here: 'What are we sharing' and 'what needs to be shared?' - which surely need different answers...While Johannes is already taking us into a scenario (that I like) suggesting how information and data is accessed ...

What are 'we' sharing?

At ILRI, we look to share both explicit and tacit knowledge.

 

TACITLY:

We are looking for ways to support and encourage our researchers to document more from their various activities (earlier in the research cycle); especailly the processes and activities that seem to happen all time time, but which are not normally shared beyond a small group. We use a lot of social media for this and concentrate around events and related milestones.

As examples, here you see materials from an internal project planning and review meeting (http://vslp.org/2011/01/31/crop-residue-tradeoffs-in-crop-livestock-systems-project-lessons-and-gaps); here from an end of project meeting (http://fodder-adoption-project.wikispaces.com/Final+Workshop); here from an ongoing multi-orgabnization project (http://nilebdc.wordpress.com/comms-tools). We try to document and make visible outputs and stories and ideas (and decisions and choices)of projects long before they go the 'final dissemination' phases. 

Recognizing that events and meetings take up a huge amount of the time we have, we also try to make the design and facilitation of these more interactive, participatory and dynamic - so encouraging more sharing (see here for a recent example with partners: http://agknowledgeafrica.wikispaces.com)

We also try to encourage colleagues to use Yammer as a platform to share what they are working on, questions, challenges, etc (see very related post by Ian Thorpe about yammer at http://bit.ly/eVK4WC)

Much of this is to try and make tacit knowledge explicit ...

 

EXPLICITLY:

We share about the work we do; we share the outputs of the work we do

We try to capture/publish and collect and index as many outputs of ILRI work, in any format: report, video, poster, powerpoint, photo, article, book, datafile, etc. We do not just want the end of project books and articles.

We give as many as possible open creative commons licenses

We index as many as possible in our dspace repository - linking to third party sites if needed  (http://mahider.ilri.org)

We publish some formats (ppt, video, photo, news, etc) on specialised social media sites (slideshare, blip.tv, flickr, wordpress, etc).

We tag all the outputs so we can aggretate and re-publish them across different sites

We use dublin core and agrovoc in ther repository

We try and list all our various web services with CIARD RING, Agrifeeds, etc

We promote various outputs across various specialised and social media sites, like Twitter

We publish all our books and reports through Google Books

We STRUGGLE to do the same for our datafiles and datasets

We try to make explict knowledge 'share-able', to increase the chances for it to travel and be re-used.

----

Does all of this NEED to be shared? Not sure ... we want at least to capture and identify all that we produce, so it 'can' be shared. It needs to be at least available and accessible for others (otherwise there is little scope for sharing)...

We try and store and index and publish and lixcense everything so there are as few barriers as possible for anyone who wants to get access to what we have produced.

 

cheers

Peter

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The Culture of Sharing

I come from a developing country, the Philippines, where sharing of technical information is not yet fully explored.  There is a lot to capture in terms of scientific information and documentation of these is very important.  We are working towards capturing the agricultural information output of agricultural scientists in the Philippines but we are moving at snail's pace.  We still have to develop the culture of sharing among scientists.  Many of them would rather keep information in their own institutions. Oftentimes, management and scientist response to this is rather lukewarm.  Now, we are trying to make our agricultural literature available to everyone through PhilAgriNet, a national database of Philippine agricultural research.  How do we develop a culture of sharing among researchers?  How do we make PhilAgriNet survive?

DLH
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Re:The Culture of Sharing

That is a pretty important issue. In my organisation INRA (France), we are looking forward to storing and sharing datasets from our researchers. The aim is for an internal reuse. We have to deal with the fear of sharing datasets to the large community. Scientists are afraid of competition because of assessment. They don't want to share but they want to receive. It is a cultural issue.

Diane

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Sharing information.

My son who is 15, asked me this serious question some weeks ago: "why do I need to go to school Dad?"

Me: "Hum (embarassed and surprised) ...... why you ask that? Everyone goes to school at your age."

Son: "I can know more things and I can get answers faster using G..gle compared to working with my teacher!"

Me (after few minutes outside to find a good answer): "Yes, but you also have to learn other things like sociabiliy, group-methodology, discipline ... and these things are not evident with G..gle"

Thinking about information retention today, another valid answer I'll give him next time will be: "You know that some people don't share their good ideas and their findings on Internet? So, at some level, you'll have to discover by yourself without any help".

This example shows the real power of actual search engines ... and how next generation will approach life in the near futur.

Two points:

1) CIARD should anticipate, envision new generation's expectations.

2) CIARD should consider in it's framework the open public informations, the hidden informations and the missing, unpublished information.

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Re-Culture of sharing

Hi Mramos,

 

Yes,  indeed the culture of sharing seriously needs to be addressed in order to enhance management and sharing of information in my organization as well. So much information has been created in the Agency but staff are not willing to release information that has been generated from programmes and activities that they have carried out even to be kept in the Library and Documentation Centre. The result is that when information seekers request for information it is difficult to retrieve and  access the information. I will also ask the same question "How do we develop a culture of sharing which will indeed enhance information circulation and dissemination?

 

Agnes

 

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yes, not only peer reviewed journals, not only data

I agree very much with Peters comments.  We should not narrow the range of information, that we want to share.  We do not talk only about data and only about peer reviewed scholarly articles.  With the Web we have an entire new field of blogs and fora, where tacit knowledge becomes explicit. This should be part of our discussion about sharing.

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what's shared is needed ?

I would like to think that what needs to be shared is what we are sharing - which should be what is needed by the intended audience. Why would we share if what we shrare is not needed. It may also mean why investing and researching when what would be shared is not for the majority. There is a new thinking among the NARS in Papua New Guinea, the country that I come from, in refocusing research agendas so as to deliver on what would be more benefitial to the community. And this is worked through identifcation of case-by-case 'development dormains' using factors such as GIS tools.

So project prioritisation and timely result delivery maybe of paramount for better outputs from limited inputs and that most results should become useful to intended clients such as farmers. 

 

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What to share - thinking outside the box...

Valeria writes:
> So in my opinion any potentially useful piece of information is worth sharing,
> possibly as small information units with metadata, like single records (e.g.
> the name and specialization of an expert, or scientific data on a gene), single
> electronic resources (e.g. pictures or videos), even single semantic units
> automatically extracted from an article...

Taking this to two interesting extremes...:

-- At the one extreme "opinions" or "annotations" about resources, when exposed
as Linked Data, can become part of an extended description of that resource --
statements as simple as the Facebook-like "Johannes likes this article".
Such annotations can become part of
what we refer to in the W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group as the
"infinitely expandable description". URIs are the anchors that pull
widely distributed references together into such an enriched description.

-- At the other extreme, one can express opinions or make annotations about
anything, in principle, that has identity (i.e., a URI). One of my favorite
examples is genomic research, where specific gene sequences, identified with
URIs, can become the object of statements such as "disease A may be related
to genetic sequence B".

By way of introduction... I have been involved with the
development of Semantic Web standards since before the notion of "Semantic Web"
was popularized in circa 2000-2001 -- starting with Dublin Core in 1996 and more
recently SKOS. Last year I completed an autoevaluation of AGROVOC and
helped plan its publication as Linked Data [1]. I currently co-chair the W3C
Library Linked Data Incubator Group [2], which is looking at the potential
benefits (and implementation obstacles) to enriching library data with URIs
and making it available for linking on the Web.

[1] http://3roundstones.com/led_book/led-baker-et-al.html
[2] http://w3.org/2005/Incubator/lld/

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Case of NARS, India

Its very nice topic to be discussed on what we are sharing and what needs to be shared. I am working as senior scientist at ICAR institute in lucknow. Sharing is a new concept in NARS, India. Only during last year, we can see some of the research articles are being shared as few journals have become Open Access. Before them few other journals are in Open Access mode. But only for few journals at higher level, a policy was made to make ICAR journals Open Access. To achieve this, many people who are advocates of OA had put lots of efforts.

Now slowly, establishment of repositories talk had come up. Only four institutes had so far established Institutional Repositories in NARS, India.

When internationally "sharing" for public good is be talked about, we at ICAR level are still not able to talk about it. Now the more emphasis is being on IPR (=Patents).

More sensitization on sharing is need to be advocated in ICAR, SAUs (whole of NARS).

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Our work on data collection and sharing

 Hello all,

My name is Amots Hetzroni and I work in the institute of agricultural engineering which is part of a government research organization (ARO) in Israel. My major interest is the use of ICT, specifically data management in agriculture.

Recognizing that knowledge and information are key-factors in pest management decision making, we put an effort into establishing a collection, storage and dissemination system for pest scouting data, as part of a decision support system for pest management. We started by developing a data collection system based on pocket-PC’s. The concept was proven to be feasible; and has thus been accepted and used by the pest scouts. Yet, it lacked two-way communication to provide the feedback required in order to support decision making in the field. Therefore, the units were replaced by cellular phones linked to the repository data server.

The interface is rather friendly, and we continually working on minimizing the load on the user. Upon login, local data tables are being updated from the main server, data such as a list of plots and crops pertinent to specific user. The scouting records, including time and location are transferred, upon communication availability, to the server. The repository was designed for internet interface to respond to spatial queries. And interfaces are being developed. Predefined queries and filters, such as history of infestations, are available for the end user from the cellular terminal.

We make efforts to add more players who will use the system: farmers, extension officers, decision making in the region, researchers and more. And we make slow progress.

Some of the difficulties include the maintenance of valid data such as crop schedule and pesticide application, getting some farmers to contribute their data, training players to make use of the system, and more.

We have also created a regional repository for activities in date palm farms, where we linked together the activities and dates’ quality. We intend to use the database as tool to support precision horticulture and for future data mining when searching for quality issues that are associated with the activities, methods and timing. At the moment, the farmers utilize mainly the detailed data on machinery usage and manual labor for economic analysis.

 

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struggle

Peter, can you tell more about your stuggle to get datasets? In Wageningen we can rather easily get datasets of supplementary data with articles (publishers charge for that), we are now also working on data from groups that worked on models that combined data from different domains (e.g. farm, climate, crop models) ,  but we do not really know what to do to get thousands other datasets that are on peoples computers and nobody knows about but themselves.

DLH
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Barriers for sharing datasets

For the last decades, we have set up centralized systems based on open access publications. As Johannes said, the technology is available now to be able to share data from a cloud organised-systems. What is now expected is to share datasets, raw data. We are now dealing with e-science and not only with publications in an OAI-PMH repository.

As I said above, we have to deal with the fear of sharing datasets. Scientists would like to receive (Johannes's dream ;-) but they don't want to share! Information managers, senior scientists, managers have to advocate with this cultural barrier. The issue of assessment and competition have to be addressed internationally.

If the technology to share is available, storage capacity and maintenance problems may occur. That makes the cloud more relevant.

To end this contribution, I would like to talk about what have to be shared. Not only datasets. What seems to me being important is to add information on how these datasets were produced (including the protocol used). In the case of agriculture, PH of the soil, its composition etc. have to be mentioned with the rawdata to enable the reusability and interpretations.

Therefore,to deposit the datasets could take time for scientits if that kind of information is required. And information managers can't help -as they do for publications - as the researcher is the only one that knows about the protocol used, the PH, composition of the soil...Time consuming is often the argument of the researchers for non-deposition.

Sharing information is not a technical problem but an international cultural one (competition, time for research, assessment).

Diane Le Hénaff, INRA

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Do Scientists want to share

I do not completely agree that scientists do not want to share.  In my personal experience I never had problems when I wanted information from colleagues. Clearly, if you are in a run for a new hot publication, you will not share what you are going to publish, but: overall we know that we do better science if we share our results.

My experience is sometimes that sharing is not done, when it costs too much extrawork. Everyone is working with pressure and very little time. We have to introduce mechanisms that make information sharing easier and rewarding

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Re: Do scientists want to share

Strongly agree Johannes ... Too many people blame scientists as not being open to share.  In my experience they are very often leased to share, but only if it is not too much of a burden!

So how do we reduce the sharing burden?

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Re: Do scientists want to share

I do agree with both Peter and Johannes that scientists are willing to share but not too strongly. Our work at the Ghana Agricultural Informaiton Network System (GAINS) over the years indicates that they are willing to share but face  the problem of what to give out, what formats, fear of their work being 'copied' without giving them credit.

Scientists should be encouraged to share the information they generate. This requires a lot of sensitization and building bridges between them and the information professionals. The question is, are scientists and information professionals on the same side?

Joel

 

 
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Do Scientists want to share

I totally agree, we are currently carrying out some sensitization on sharing infromation using the KARI website and Web 2.0 tools and most of the scientists don't know what to share and how to share it.

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Incentives for sharing

Scientists will be more motivated to share when the benefits of doing so can be demonstrated -- not just to themselves but to their employers or funders.  Search engines that target Linked Data, perhaps for a specific domain such as "agricultural research", will be able to follow incoming links to a scientist's work in order to generate statistics and analytics, as Twitter engines do for "trending topics".

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Sharing is Selective

In my experience as a Librarian in IRRI, I noticed that there are scientists who readily share their journal articles when we send  e-mail requests for them.  There are, however, some who don't reply to our requests at all in spite of follow-up emails, even if I stress the fact that the paper would be used solely for research purposes. 

It is an ideal situation where scientists freely share their research outputs to the world.  I notice that there are more who want to share than those who don't.

In addition to research results, expertise should be shared as well, but normally this comes for a fee.

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Dinosaurs & evolution!

Discuss what we are sharing and what needs to be shared is very important, not least because without such an argument is hard to justify investment in research technologies and methodologies for managing information and knowledge, especially in government institutions such as Embrapa.
However, the discussion always had leanings to the "human" side of the issue and gets stuck on questions of culture change, behavior, attitudes, beliefs, etc.
We are considering the Web 3.0 (someones already point to the Web 4.0), and I have colleagues who still prefer to use the typewriter! They still coexist and are not excluded from the processes of creating, sharing and disseminating information and knowledge.
When the computer came up, some have looked it with suspicion and resistance, but today, 30 years later, the dinosaurs that still use the typewriter are rarities! Joining the computer was of course going forward due to many advantages (and competitiveness) that it had toward his rival la vecchia O..vetti!
The discussion initiated by question 1 of this forum must always continue, but perhaps not a single consensus response will be reached.
I have already mentioned that Embrapa is still very far from internalization of technologies/methodologies of interactivity and interoperability and also of a culture of sharing, but the fact is that many projects are underway at Embrapa networks (nationally and internationally) and the demands for interactivity and interoperability do not cease.
Personally and professionally, I have preferred to defend the strategy of offering technological and methodological solutions to what is already available and urgently needs to be shared. And the work seems to be endless! Adhesion to the process and the logic of sharing in my opinion will be best established naturally ... If sharing data, information and knowledge is something useful, even scientists surrender to the process.

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Sharing along the way!

Mechanisms (tools, technologies, workflows?) should be put in place such that information documentation (and thereby sharing) becomes a by-product of every activity done to accomplish a task.

Articles in journals are always thought of as the end-result of any research, the journey to achieve that has to be craftily captured - this is as valuable as the end result.

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I agree that the fear of

I agree that the fear of sharing datasets is an obstacle. But the quality and relevance of data and information is another problem. What always come to my mind, which also was emphasized in the 2010 meetings with the prepared Road Map , is the relevance of the research work to poor farmers. This off course should be reflected into the information to be shared. The problem which I feel important is how to ensure that the published research information has considered the needs of poor farmers and approved by farmers and other partners within the innovation system. This would remain as a missing link in the whole process, especially in many of the developing countries, even if emphasis is to be made in the future in the shifting of the research into more people-centered. Now, is it wise to think of "what are the proper mechanisms/standards that could help articulate, document and publish quality and relevant information or research outcomes?". Or How can ICTs enable a more pluralistic, networked approach to information sharing? The outcomes of the discussions could be some agreed guidelines to be useful to NARS and Regional Foras for further improvements in this regard.

 

 

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Re: Barriers for sharing datasets

<p>I agree that the fear of sharing datasets is an obstacle. But the quality and relevance of data and information is another problem. What always come to my mind, which also was emphasized in the 2010 meetings with the prepared Road Map , is the relevance of <span style="">the research work to poor farmers. This off course should be reflected into the information to be shared. The problem which I feel important is how to ensure that the published research information has considered the needs of poor farmers and approved by farmers and other partners within the innovation system. This would remain as a missing link in the whole process, especially in many of the developing countries, even if emphasis is to be made in the future in the shifting of the research into more people-centered. Now, is it wise to think of &quot;<b>what are the proper mechanisms/standards that could help articulate, document and publish quality and relevant information or research outcomes?</b>&quot;. Or <b>How can </b></span><b>ICTs enable a more pluralistic, networked approach to information sharing</b><span style="">? The outcomes of the discussions could be some agreed guidelines to be useful to NARS and Regional Foras for further improvements in this regard. </span></p>
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Re: Barriers for sharing datasets

I agree that the fear of sharing datasets is an obstacle. But the quality and relevance of data and information is another problem. What always come to my mind, which also was emphasized in the 2010 meetings with the prepared Road Map , is the relevance of the research work to poor farmers. This off course should be reflected into the information to be shared. The problem which I feel important is how to ensure that the published research information has considered the needs of poor farmers and approved by farmers and other partners within the innovation system. This would remain as a missing link in the whole process, especially in many of the developing countries, even if emphasis is to be made in the future in the shifting of the research into more people-centered. Now, is it wise to think of "what are the proper mechanisms/standards that could help articulate, document and publish quality and relevant information or research outcomes?". Or How can ICTs enable a more pluralistic, networked approach to information sharing? The outcomes of the discussions could be some agreed guidelines to be useful to NARS and Regional Foras for further improvements in this regard.

 

 

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Share all the possible research information among each other

Being a research institution in China, CAAS have huge amount of research information and data both published formally or informally. Such valuable research outcomes needs to be shared among each other in China and with users abroad for a developemnt of agriculture.  To share or federate our publications' metadata with others can be the first step.  We believe that all agri libraries or information centers would like to share their information with others and this is the mutual goal for us for years.  However,  proper mechanisms and pathways are very much needed and necessary to do so. Now, CIARD is a significant starting point to reach the goal.  We  hope that through the platform of CIARD RING, we may realize the expected dream of information sharing globally.

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Sharing all possible research information ...

I really like Pan Shuchun's point. Finding proper mechanisms and pathways to trigger the sharing process to happen is very important because no one wants to give first and for free.

Maybe, even in Africa there are lot of informations that can contribute in the development of science. Lot of indigeneous knowledge is still hidden by groups of minority because of lack of win-win mechanisms.

 

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Sharing information on what we are sharing and how

Reading some of the posts here and always finding out something new that I didn't know about what other Institutions are sharing and in which form, maybe there is one thing we have to add to the list of what we need to share: we need to share information on what we are sharing :-)

Seriously, we usually find out about interesting information services because we know who is managing them, because maybe there is a short email campaign publicizing them, because other websites link to them, but when we are looking for information sources of a specific type (RSS, OAI providers...) because we want to build an added value service or just aggregate information in our RSS reader, we may not find everything that exists and we may even miss the best sources.

This was indeed the main reason behind the idea of creating the RING (http://ring.ciard.net) under the CIARD initiative: a directory of information sources in agriculture, described and classified, especially with regard to technical features that are relevant to interoperability.

(Of course, at a higher level of complexity, also some techniques for "auto-discovery" could be used, adopting XML / RDF descriptions of sources: already the RSS channel metadata and the OAI-PMH Identify verb go in this direction).

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Sharing information about what we share

Valeria wrote "we need to share information on what we are sharing :-)"

Absolutely. 

The CIARD RING can certainly be a good mechanism for discovering what information can be shared and I've actually been looking at it pretty closely recently so I have a good sense on how well the RING (as it exists right now) is accomplishing that task.  

I have been playing around with a Drupal OAI-PMH harvester module and have been able to harvest content from numerous services that have indicated that they are functioning as an OAI Provider.  Currently, there are 47 services in the RING which have indicated that "OAI Provider" is the service type.  I couldn't find any of them that had specified the base URI (something that I could append ?verb=Identify) to obtain more information about what they are sharing.  That's simply because when an organization provides information about the services they provide we are not asking for that base URI.  I suspect the we'd see a similar pattern for services that expose information using an RSS feed.   

I've got a development site that I've used to test harvesting OAI-PMH information and created a "OAI Provider" content type.  It has a field for entering in the base uri, then I used a couple of computed_fields to construct urls and obtain the metadataformats and sets that the oai provider has exposed.  It's pretty simple, but without the base uri readily available I had to search a couple of OAI registries to find out what that uri was.  

Sometimes asking a simple question for a simple answer can be all it takes to determine what kind of information is being shared.

 

 

 

 

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Dealing with a complexity of stakeholders

Krishan Bheenick here, with some experience in the countries of the SADC region over the past five years. I have enjoyed all the posts so far and I see we are enriching the discussion with the diversity of target audiences and their perspectives.

I see that we have not only different categories of stakeholders, but also stakeholders who differ in terms of the resources and skills to tap the information being shared. Researchers and Information Managers in the developing world will surely understand and appreciate the potential of the visions we have of how these tools can help us in our work, but these are far from their reality (sepecially in terms of connectivity and the tools). At times,  we may have programmes/projects that come in with funds to start off the process and then fade out, leaving the user alone with the tool which might rely on a more sophisticated connectivity option than the institution can no longer afford. Connectivity is often one of the major problems, but we also have high turnover of staff in such institutions. So how do we cope with the situation where the person who benefited from skills development during a programme or project moves on, leaving a newcomer to take up the challenge?

In the field of ARD, we could now move from the traditional triangular Research-Extension-Farmer linkage model to one with  four categories of stakeholders: the researcher, the extension agent, the information manager and the farmer. In this case, the 'Information Manager' sits in the middle of the triangle and has to play the role of the linkages among the three other stakeholders. This may not necessarily mean that we have a new breed of ARD worker, but we first need to define the role of that 'Information Manager' and the interfaces that they facilitate. We can then decide whether in the local context, we need a new person to play that role or its a collective responsibility of these traditional stakeholder groups.Would it help to define the functional role of such a position? Is that role, the key to the implementation of the CIARD framework at a local level?

From my perspective, the CIARD framework has to cater for the whole range of ARD stakeholders for it to remain relevant at a global level - its a daunting task, a bit like a Prime Minister trying to form a government after tight (democratic) elections - trying to satisfy everyone and finding the right balance to get started. In a way, that's what this forum is attempting to conceptualise. I guess many of us have also been in such a position where we finally decide that we have tried to have as much consultation with the parties involved and its time to start somewhere, with a proposed strategy, and then do our best to keep an open mind, consult on regular basis to adjust the strategies. This approach will require collective efforts such as devolving responsibilities (rather: assuming distributed responsibilities), coordination and collaboration.

Having said that, we have to acknowledge that the CIARD framework will not be able to give us the solutions, but instead give us the guidelines, 'practices that worked well elsewhere', an insight into the new development and tools/technology in the sector, such that it helps us make the right decisions that match our context.  Therefore, we will need to see how the information needs that we are asked to satisfy by our local stakeholders, also fits in the global framework, and document the process we are going through so that we can facilitate the process of harmonising our procedures, formats etc.

So when it comes to sharing information - we are currently sharing what we 'perceive' to be what is required of us by our stakeholders while what we should be sharing is what is 'required' by our stakeholders. Now the key is how do we know what our stakeholders expect from us - and what are the dynamics of our stakeholders needs! I will come back to a tool that we have been trying in the SADC region as a matrix for information needs assessment with our stakeholders and as a platform for capturing the changing needs (already mentioned by Sanjay)

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Sharing information, raw data and data sets

What I miss here is the perspective of the categories of end-users vis-a-vis required types of input.

If we assume that all consumers of agriculture related information, raw data or data sets use a handheld device (GSM, smart phone, tablet, netbook  or other device) or use a notebook or other computer to request, access or send data, we must have a grip on generic ICT system variables that define the user and his enabling ICT technologies.

The formatting of data sets, raw data and the way these are stored, requested and retrieved from repositories, and the applications driving the exchange, interchange and transmission of data must be shielded as much as possible from the end-user.

This inevitably leads to requirements of semantics, aggregators and logical data definition, storage, retrieval, and the applications that aggregate user requested content to combine mature semantic web technologies and open access, open repository standards for the widest range of user generated digital content possible.

Visualization of end user categories in their untilization environments and their enabling technologies would give us a baseline for defining what types of information need to be shared.

And in this context it is important to define the public domain (open access) versus private domains (subscriber access) defined by online publishers of content which already have widespread use or acceptance, whether they be online publishers of journals, social networking sites, news repositories, data sets, or raw data from remote sensors and input devices.

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Are we sharing enough

I was just wondering.. that we could come up with answers for what are we sharing and what needs to be shared...

Would this also fit in: Are we sharing enough..

I was just thinking about a paper published recently (can't recall the name) which says that the SADC region is quite poor in research..

I believe it's not that we do not do sufficient research.. but rather.. most of our findings remain in drawers and not shared with stakeholders..

Make no mistake.. even institutions doing the research do not publish the results etc.. on their websites.. if this action could be considered as a minimum, then the remaining pathways of sharing seem to be a too far scenario..

 

Sanjay

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End user Perspective: Can the smallholder producer use it?

If the forum will indulge me I would like to open a somewhat different tangent to the discussion. It seem that most of the discussion is relative to sharing information between the different research science program or perhaps even the extension programs. I would like to suggest that a critical concern is how useful it is to the end user which I think is the smallholder producers in the developing world.

The question is not do they have the knowledge or can obtain the knowledge, but do they have the means to take what was developed through small plot research and extension demonstration and extend it to their total farm, or whatever portion they need to. The underlying concern here it the basic premisis that has guided or perhaps misguided the development effort for some 40 years. Basically that the farmers were not effectively using the resources available and that substantial economic development could be done with education and motivation, the operational resources were already available. http://lamar.colostate.edu/~rtinsley/BasicPremise.htm

I am going to question this and suggest the labor and the other operational resources needed to manage the land are the most limited aspect of smallholder agriculture and this results in prolonged time to accomplish most agronomic task until the biotechnical information being effectively shared and extended is render ineffective.

Perhaps the easiest way to get at this is to look at the calorie energy balance for smallholders. Why it is trite to say that a hungry person cannot be expected to work very hard, that is percisely what we have been expecting for the last 40 years. Also, we can claim that smallholder only provide enough food for 6 months, but do we factor that into field work we expect to be undertaken to releive their poverty.

As I can best see this the basic fact are it requires 2000 kcal/day to meet basic matabolism requirements for a sedimentary person such as someone confined to a refugee in a camp. To this must be added around 300 kcal per hr of agronomic field work. For a full 10 hr day it will take some 4000 to 5000 kcals depending on the work being done. In contrast farmers and laborer may only have access to some 2000 kcal/day just enough to meet basic matabolism requirement with little if anything left for work. An interesting example would be the Millinneum Village Projects in East Africa that allocate some 1.1 t of maize per family of 5.7 people. This quickly convert to 192 g/per/day which converts to some 1930 kcals. Again enough to survive but not do any strenous work. The result is that the agriculture work day may be restricted to 3 or 4 hrs and those stero-typical men loafing around the village in the afternoon maybe more hungry and exhausted than lazy needing a swift kick to the posterier. If this is all the a person can be expected to work in a day, how long will it take for them to undertake the 300 hr needed for manual land preparation of a hectare, and what will that to all the swcience being shared. http://lamar.colostate.edu/~rtinsley/CalorieEnergyBalance.htm

Thank you,

Dick Tinsley

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What do we want to share

From the contributions that I have read up to now the elements of the diagram in the introduction to the questions seem to be confirmed:

  •  data
  •  formal and informal publications
  •  discussions and interactions that becomes manifest on the web
  •  resources

Is there something we left out?  Do we can prioritize?

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