The challenges facing southern researchers in the Arab world

Development experiences from many Arab countries show that the achievement of development in different sectors depends on the practical level of knowledge and skills of the labor force available to those countries.  That’s why it is crucial to encourage southern research that can help the developing countries cope with the developed world, since it is the cornerstone in development where work force is trained to lead the social, economic, political and cultural changes.

Southern researchers experience numerous barriers to have their knowledge influence global debates on development. Thus, GDNet is focusing on solutions and ideas that help the development community to Connect South; it calls on development actors to pledge their support and re-establish their own commitments to southern researchers. Accordingly, the GDNet’s Connect South Campaign aims to advocate the value of southern research as well as promoting southern voices.

In this interview, Jamal Haidar (University of Paris I, Pantheon-Sorbonne, Paris) draws our attention to the three main challenges he has been experiencing as other southern researchers. First, it is extremely hard to access data from southern countries especially Arab countries. Second, there is a lack of funding in the Arab world to PHD students as well as young researchers to attend international conferences. Last but not least, he expresses his concern towards the issue that most southern researchers focus on the quantity rather quality of the research. Thus, he suggests that there should be some supervision on the quality of southern research in order to have more sound policy implications.

Related posts: Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?


Good research hidden behind walls of subscriptions

Has the “peer reviewed literature” become as “peer ONLY reviewed”?

In an attempt to highlight the challenges that southern researchers face in order to focus on solutions and ideas that help the development community to Connect South, we had the chance to interview Saifedean Ammous (Lebanese American University). He explained that data availability is one of the most crucial issues facing all academic researchers especially the ones from the south. According to his explanation, the main reason behind it is the fact that online academic journals are hidden behind firewalls and subscriptions need to be paid for them.

In other words, peer reviewed literature has changed to become peer only review; in which only the peers of the authors get to see their work; whereas regular people, researchers or others who work in a related field of research don’t have the eligibility to access these research papers.

If this issue can be addressed in an efficient manner, and researchers opened up to make their work accessible, everyone will benefit; especially the researchers themselves because they will get a feel of the value of their work in the developing community.