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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Managing research information

Managing research information

Development and research organizations’ primary focus is on delivering programmes that improve lives or discover new research findings. Keeping track of the outputs of the work can be difficult for large and often geographically spread organizations even within the organization, but making this information available to the wider world in a coherent form is even more of a challenge.

The benefits of sharing research findings and knowledge are widely understood, but the task of putting this into practice for investment portfolios worth hundreds of millions of dollars by gathering together reports, images, data and publications, which are in multiple formats and locations, can be beyond the capacity and expertise of many organizations.

CABI has exactly this type of expertise, gained over many years of collecting, abstracting, indexing and publishing scientific and development information for a wide audience, as has been done with our database CAB Abstracts. More recently we have put this expertise to use helping organizations to catalogue and manage their institutional knowledge to best effect through the web, as we have done with DFID's Research for Development site, DANIDA's research portal in Denmark and through archiving agricultural knowledge on behalf of developing countries.

uk aid logo

The UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned CABI
and partners to develop and maintain a state-of-the-art online information portal known as
Research for Development (R4D). The website holds a powerful free database of around
5,000 DFID-funded development projects carried out since the mid-1990s. This gives users
anywhere in the world instant access to more than 30,000 project outputs – from technical
reports to newsletters and policy briefs.

 R4D is receiving over 120,000 site visits per month, engaging with 205 countries worldwide with over 40% of users from the South.

Find out more

Danida logo

In April 2010, Danish Development Research Network (DDRN) and CABI started discussing the idea of introducing an information repository in Denmark. Other partners and potential contributors were involved in the the idea of turning an existing large database of Danish project information into a much more visible and usable knowledge bank, and in creating a resource which can be used in the future to capture the outcomes of ongoing research. This consortium involved members from across the Danish Development landscape.  The collaborative approach allowed different expertise to be leveraged, and local development partners were able to provide in situ presence and experience.

In the early part of 2011 a user-needs assessment was conducted, the results of which formed the basis of agreement between CABI and DDRN to develop a working model of the Portal for Danish funded research for development.  The portal,  was developed on Drupal, an open source content management system.  The site went live at the beginning of July 2011.

DFID Evidence on demand logo

CABI was part of a team creating a portal for DFID advisors working around the world who require simple, fast access to a wide range of information and learning support . CABI created a repository of documents including clear metadata for simple or advanced searching, and carried out user research to identify user requirements and to map the portal's architecture.

Worldwide concern about the issues of food security and climate change is at an all time high. It is widely accepted that the most vulnerable communities, those in the tropical regions of the developing world, will be hit hardest. Investment in international agricultural research is being increased to meet these threats and technological innovations offer great promise for improved food output in the future. Additionally, there is much that we already know at both local and national levels if effectively disseminated and implemented, could immediately improve yields and reduce losses. However, in developing countries, much of this information is not readily accessible and not in a format that allows it to be shared within countries, let alone across regions.

CABI has been leading a project to preserve and disseminate valuable agricultural material, and the knowledge it contains, for the benefit of current researchers and generations to come. The Global Agricultural Research Archive (GARA) aims to digitally capture research and create a knowledge archive on behalf of three developing countries in Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia, namely Malawi, Pakistan and the Philippines. This is already a vital resource within these countries as well as offering the potential for creating an information network that could be shared across the region. The archive is centrally managed and maintained to enable preservation, disaster recovery and the long term protection of knowledge which might otherwise become inaccessible.

Improving access will liberalise agricultural knowledge. When research succeeds and outputs are documented, disseminated and preserved, just a small team of researchers has the ability to raise the productivity and income of millions of farmers.



In 2013, we will be working with RUFORUM, The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, a consortium of 30 universities in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. RUFORUM’s Mission is to strengthen the capacities of universities to foster innovations responsive to demands of small-holder farmers through the training of high quality researchers, the output of impact-oriented research, and the maintenance of collaborative working relations among researchers, farmers, national agricultural research institutions, and governments. In support of this Mission, GARA will be hosting the full text of a selection of RUFORUM publications and staff papers.