“Collaboration: The Way to Go” – Researchers
Researchers, scientists and faculty at the College of Science and Technology (CST), Covenant University, rose from their one-day College Seminar with the conviction that multidisciplinary research collaboration was the way forward for creative and sustainable research products.
They also agreed at the seminar aimed at building the research capacity of the faculty, that national and international research collaboration is required to put the University on the international field in order to achieve the vision of being one of the 10 leading world-class universities by the year 2022.
Speaking at the event on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at the CST Conference Room, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charles Ayo, who was one of the Guest speakers declared that, “Whoever want to go alone is undoing himself and still belong to the old school.”
The Vice-Chancellor spoke on “Research Collaboration and Institutional Goals,” noting that, “Achieving our institutional goals demand commitment to research activities aimed at developing products.” He explained that product-oriented research must be done in collaboration with those who understand the market, the techniques and have access to the resources required such as funds and materials.
Professor Ayo dwelt on two categories of collaborations which are Horizontal and Vertical collaborations. Horizontal collaborations, according to him, involves similar institutions within and outside the country, while vertical collaborations on the other hand, goes a step further by ensuring that researchers and their institutions partner with organisations that can take their products to the market.
He cited various case studies of internationally recognised products and companies that were spin-off from research collaborations between universities and organisations and charged that, “We must move from research to products to spin-off companies. Our research efforts and out-comes should end up as viable spin-off companies that can run independent of the University.”
The Vice-Chancellor emphasised the need for collaboration stating that, “We must collaborate to develop commercially viable products, to gain cheap access to research and development funds, produce more patents and inventions, to access facilities and resources, become relevant to national and international developments and secure research reputation.”
Also speaking at the seminar, the second Guest speaker and a senior faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, Dr. Angela Eni, in her paper titled, “Why Collaborate as Researcher? Field Work Experience,” advocated for multidisciplinary research collaboration which is the global structure for accessing funds.
“Most funding agencies now structure their call for proposal to favour multidisciplinary research teams. The aim is to encourage collaborations that foster a cross-fertilisation of ideas and methodologies,” she explained.
Dr. Eni, an Associate Professor and Team Leader of West Africa Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) for root and tuber crops to ensure food security in Africa, was of the opinion that multidisciplinary researches result in innovative approaches to problem solving.
While sharing personal experience with the participants, Dr. Eni noted that collaborating with more experience researchers can lend credibility and increase validation to most projects and researchers. “Such experiences,” she said, “may include insightful and innovative approaches to problem solving, a history of successful proposal submissions and significant publications in the field.
“Collaboration with such recognised expert may increase the chances of a successful submission both for ongoing research efforts as well as future collaboration.”
She listed some cost of collaboration noting that it could be time intensive in joint proposal writing, planning, monitoring and evaluation. She added that, “The diversity of choice and opportunity may be diminished. Individuals could end up working only on topics that peer consensus define as the most interesting.”
The benefits, however, far outweigh the cost of collaboration. The benefits, according to her, include deeper and high quality research, availability of a wider array of techniques, less work for everyone without compromising on results, higher likelihood of spin-off and improved potentials for individual, regional, continental and global recognition, honours and awards among others.
The Director, Covenant University Centre for Research, Innovation and Discovery (CUCRID), Professor Samuel Wara, who was also a Guest speaker, in his paper, “How to Identify Potential Collaborators: Within and Without,” enumerated the qualities of a good collaborator which includes transparency, integrity, flexibility, considerate, corporate esteem, decisiveness/focus, authenticity, kindness, and high target.
He also answered the question of where to source collaborators. “To find the right collaborative research partner,” he said, “you need to identify several ways to find the right collaborator that matches you interest. There are some tools that can help you find exactly the type of collaborators that you need.”
Professor Wara identified such tools to include SciVal, which according to him enable researchers identify top performance researchers and explore models of collaboration that have already been developed or are on the rise, either at the institutional, national or international level. Others are what he called Traditional method such as conferences and seminars; Google Scholar; Modeley; Citation and Literature Databases such as Scopus and Web of Science among others.
Other contributors at the seminar were the Dean of the College, Professor Nicholas Omoregbe, Director, Industry Partnership, Professor Olawole Obembe, HOD, Architecture, Dr. Ezinyi Ibem and Chairman, Community Development Impact Initiative Committee, Dr. Humphrey Adebayo of Biological Sciences.
Their contributions allayed the concerns about rivalry, inordinate motives and indifference of researchers to collaboration among other negative vices associated with partnership as expressed by some participants.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Dean of the College, Professor Nicholas Omoregbe, noted that no one does good or sustainable research in isolation. “We need to collaborate with people that have proofs, that is why we came up with the seminar series,” he explained.
Also in his remarks, the Chair, College Seminar and Research Committee, Professor Solomon Oranusi, said that the gathering was principally for capacity building. “There is no way we can push the University to the international field if we are all local players. The only way we can be known is to collaborate with colleagues out there. “