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Facilitating Research Output in Uganda: Opportunities and Challenges

General Background: Libraries as innovative and esteemed information producers all over the world have a tremendous impact in the academic and public spheres. In science and technology researchers rely on the librarian’s expertise in organizing, disseminating and archiving their output as a critical element in fostering inclusive participation in the global economy. By comparison, social sciences and humanities research will help reshape the social, economic and political landscape leading to improved service delivery. In Uganda as elsewhere, research output is reliant on the availability of research funding and the constant cultivation of a research culture among academic and research institutions.

Expected role of librarians in the Research Process
Librarians should:
Facilitate the discovery of content and utilization of information resources
Provide expertise on publishing and open access business models
Suggest channels to disseminate research output
Identify trustworthy environments for researchers to publish
Facilitate the development and maintenance of Institutional Repositories (IRs)
Provide training to researchers on resource location, literature review and information literacy
Facilitate scholarly communication and scientific publishing
Implement publisher policies for self-archiving
Facilitate subscription and access to electronic resources
Steps involved in the creation, publication, dissemination, and discovery of scholarly research follow a lifecycle involving several actors, such as researchers, peer reviewers, librarians, publishers, funders, technologists, RECs, and many more in between data collection and knowledge sharing.

[Hansen, 2018]
Science publishing is the gateway to research outcomes. It facilitates results sharing with the academic community and the public, primarily through journal articles and monographs, conference proceedings, working papers, and datasets through libraries.

Librarians’ expertise for evaluation of research impact
The research impact is useful for:
Accountability – to demonstrate to funders the value of their research investment and enhance the chances for further funding.
Understanding – to understand how research leads to impact, and thus ways in which it can be developed to maximize the impact of research findings
Performance evaluation – in developing standards for employment, performance evaluation and promotion of researchers.
Impact evaluation of research output enables the organization to gain an overall understanding of its performance and monitor how its contributions are disseminated to society.
Research impact Assessment

[Research4Life, 2021]
Librarians have a special skill set in Bibliometrics and use other indicators for assessing research impact that uses statistical methods to analyze books, articles, and other publications
Metrics that are used in research assessment include:
Scientometrics – Measures scholarly literature output of science in general, not limited to publications
Webometrics (cyber metrics) – Measures quantitative aspects of the construction and use of information resources, innovative data structures, and technologies on the Web
Informetrics – Measures production, dissemination, and use of all forms of information, regardless of its form or origin
Altimetrics – Measures how datasets are discussed and used around the world – page views/downloads, shares, mentions, bookmarks, applauds, reviews, comments, and reports

Libraries in Uganda rely on proactive partners, either national or international:
CUUL, Consortium of Uganda University Libraries
RENU, Research and Education Network for Uganda Free Services catalogue
ULIA, Uganda Library and Information Association
AFLIA, African Library & Information Associations & Institutions
AHILA, Association of Health Information and Libraries in Africa
EIFL, Electronic Information for Libraries
IFLA, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
INASP, International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications
SPIDER, Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions
Let’s take a deeper look at the major two collaborating networks based in Uganda and focused on research promotion:
CUUL – Subscriptions and training, Collaboration and Networking
RENU- Bandwidth (Data), Web hosting, Back up, Research discovery tools, training
There have been very welcome moves by publishers, vendors and others working with libraries to facilitate access to content for researchers even when library buildings were forced to close due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
A key step has been to allow remote access to content that has been restricted to on-site users. For instance, VitalSource has worked with its publisher partners to broaden access to materials using only an email address to log-in, as did ProQuest through eBook Central and Springer through extended log-in periods and Emerald and others through remote access possibilities.
Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL)
The Consortium of Uganda University Libraries seeks to facilitate effective and efficient collaboration and resource sharing among uuniversity and Institutional libraries in Uganda in order to strengthen the library services provided to their clients. Key objectives include:
Improve the visibility of libraries and mobilize funding for collaboration
Help librarians become part of larger national, regional and international conversations
Researcher Focused Goals of CUUL:
To build the capacity and effectiveness of its member institutions.
Enhances access to quality information for learning, teaching and research; and develops resource sharing procedures
Improve research generation and publication of its member institutions
To advocate for the vital role of libraries in education, research and innovation in Uganda.
Strengthen leadership and membership capability related to advocacy
Build new and strengthen existing partnerships across a range of sectors, so that CUUL can play a vital bridging role in the knowledge economy
In addition, the RENU – CUUL official partnership seeks to:
Facilitate Research & Education collaboration
Research, cooperation and resource sharing
Support Research & Education transformation

Research and Education Network for Uganda Free Services catalogue:
The following resources and services are provided to academics free of charge under the RENU framework:
Institutional data traffic;
IPv4 public addresses + IPv6;
Web conferencing;
Cybersecurity – RENU CERT reports;
SSL Certificates;
Network traffic monitoring;
Open-source mirror;
Eduroam – eduVPN;
Trainings and workshops;
Technicians, researchers and librarians;
Resource Discovery Tools.
In addition, anti-plagiarism tool Turnitin is subsidized through bulk purchase


[RENU, 2019]


[RENU, 2021]
The Availability of Free Research4life Access for Uganda
Created with the initiative of UN under Kofi Anan, Research4Life is a public-private partnership of the FAO, WHO, UNEP, WIPO, ILO, Cornell University, Yale University, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical (STM) Publishers and up to 160 international scientific publishers.
Research4Life was created to reduce the knowledge gap between high-income countries and low and middle-income countries by providing affordable access to important scientific research.
Research4life Project
Since 2002, the five programmes – Research in Health (Hinari), Research in Agriculture (AGORA), Research in the Environment (OARE), Research for Development and Innovation (ARDI), and Research for Global Justice (GOALI) – have provided researchers from more than 10,000 institutions in more than 120 low- and middle-income countries with free or low-cost online access to up to 119,000 leading journals and books in the fields of health, agriculture, environment, applied sciences and law. Further information is available at
Here below are a few examples of the rich palette of tools that can be subscribed to by Ugandan librarians and information professionals:
Web of Science – the largest citation research engine for acquiring, analyzing, and disseminating global research information;
Scopus – Elsevier’s Scopus , the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature;
Publons – Tracks research impact – publications, citation metrics, peer reviews and journal editing work, in one place;
Reference Managers – Mendeley, Zotero, Endnote;
Publisher e-resources Platforms – Wiley, EbscoHost, Emerald, Jstor, Elsevier, IEEE, etc.;
Research data repository registry –;
Antiplagiarism tools – Turnitin.

3. CHALLENGES Several challenges can frustrate the library’s noble duty. Below are some typical obstacles for academic libraries across the world:
Budget constraints;
Communication about changes within the library;
Training and career advancement;
Keeping up with changing technical requirements;
Virtual storage space and increased need to attain high internet speeds by expanding bandwidth.
Understanding research trends and the librarian’s role in the research cycle;
Keeping up with policy changes;
Managing and Sharing Research Output;
Countering the rise of predatory publishers;
Conveying the value of librarians to researchers;
Beyond these obvious difficulties, the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL) has to address specific challenges:
Expensive subscriptions to publisher e-resources;
High cost of bandwidth for libraries and individuals;
Fluctuating subscription timelines by members;
Researchers need training and online support;
Eifel Funding for Research Repositories ended in 2019;
INASP funding for Library Consortiums ended 2019;
SIDA funding on e-resources and scholarly communication ended in 2020.
Conversely, the future of research in Uganda in our view should entail the following:
Improve budgetary allocation for research generation and dissemination;
Funding long-term sustainability of CUUL and RENU;
Trainings/workshops for researchers and scholars to foster end user engagement;
Collaboration between CUUL, RENU, INASP, RAF and other stakeholders
Connectivity improvement (International bandwidth and content cloud hosting) through RENU
Content development liaison & dissemination of research output with CUUL
Better research & publication with Researchers and Academics Forum (RAF)
Stronger LinkedIn presence and professional networking of Ugandan researchers
Institutional repository development for various institutions with CUUL
Subscription to the Web of Science platform

Facilitated by exponential growth of the global ICT sector and the arrival of the 4th Industrial Revolution in 2015, Librarians and Information professionals in Uganda are quite optimistic about their changing roles in facilitating research output. If research is to thrive and gain international visibility, CUUL and RENU need to exploit all the opportunities including creating lasting partnerships that are readily available and forge new ones that can enable Librarians and Information professional access relevant training, collaborative support and alternative funding hence increasing our potential to provide inclusive services based on global standards.

Further reading:
Consortium of Uganda University Libraries:
International Federation of Library Associations and institution:
International Network for Scientific Publications:
Research and Education Network for Uganda:
Hansen, Samuel (2018) Supporting Scholarly Communication
Top 10 Challenges for Academic Libraries in the 21St Century, (2018).

Andrew Ojulong
Senior Librarian | Ag. UL – Lira University,
PhD Scholar – College of Computing & Information Science, Makerere University
Contact: Mob: +256781308440; Email:; Net:


My WLIC experience: musings of a first-timer

I am a librarian, student and teacher; but essentially a day-dreamer. Since I entered to study at IFTS 13 in Buenos Aires ( and I found out about IFLA and its WLIC I knew that, at some point, I was going to arrive at that global instance. I always think big!

It is a great responsibility to be one of the few librarians of Latin America who participated in the Virtual Congress immersed in a global community.
The WLIC allowed us to rebuild our professional paradigms, and collectively think and channel the dynamics to manage the informational flow of the 21st century. Through the presentations, it became clear that it is essential that the information units generate a forceful and disruptive impact, creating unexpected spaces and new dynamics.

In the projects presented from the different continents, the value of technology was highlighted as a way to publicize and democratize the collections of the several countries:

On the first Congress Day, it was clear that, in today’s fast-paced and overstimulated society, libraries are an oasis of the intellect. They are favorable centers for congenial strategies for an unimaginable future.

The second day was intense. Diversity takes importance in its various nuances. This was followed by the impact of artificial intelligence on global citizens. We are really more than 7000 million interrelated souls; this promoted debate on interreligious dialogue and immigration, crucial axes in the transmutation of the cultural parameters of each of the continents.

And for the last day of the Congress, professional networks were strengthened from theory and practice. Literally a conference presented libraries as incubators for creativity. Essential to promote ecology and innovation as is the case of the University of Macau Library presented by the IFLA ARL Section.

In summary, whereas knowledge was taken from the past, for example, from indigenous communities, the present was analyzed as the promise of a hyper-connected future. In smarter cities, libraries will play a key role. Urbanization will change the way we think, and libraries too. Robots and drones will multiply to collaborate with the tasks of librarians. Information centers will be within integrated urban systems. And due to the considerable increase in technological feedback, we are currently living the decade of dynamic mobile applications: here, the accumulation of interactions is almost immeasurable. For this reason, immense data infrastructures require trained professionals for digital and informational administration. It also requires better cyber-security at the corporate and individual level.

The informational future is promising! It means amplified literacy, education and inclusion.
Has the Earth increased the speed of its rotation? The WLIC 2022, hopefully in person, is getting closer and closer!

Noé Nessel, Buenos Aires, Argentina

WLIC2021 experience: So proud to be (almost) a librarian!

  • During the closing ceremony of 2021 IFLA WLIC online event, Gerald Leitner, IFLA’s Secretary General, proposed three questions for those who attended to reflect about this amazing event. What did you learn? What changed your mind? What will you do next? I’ve chosen to answer these questions as a grant awardee’s contribution to the IFLA ARL Section blog. But first, I will tell a bit about my trajectory.

Where do I come from?

On January 2020 I researched the development of critical information literacy (CIL) field in Brazil for my thesis, and found interesting differences between the CIL field in the US and Brazil. With my advisor, Gilda Olinto de Oliveira (a member of the permanent faculty of the postgraduate program in information science at the School of Communication of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), I proposed a communication for the 2020 IFLA WLIC that was initially to take place in Dublin. Well, the pandemic changed these plans and we all adapted, as librarians do. So it was a delightful surprise when not only the paper was chosen but also I got the ARL grant!

Although I work with a lot of librarians, I had never worked in a library so far. I kept explaining that I am not a librarian, because in Brazil we have to get a four-year university degree and register at a class association to be a librarian. When the ARL Section Chair, Mrs. Gulcin Cribb informed me about a meeting to discuss contributions from country’s university libraries trends, I panicked and felt like I was an impostor. Thankfully, my many librarian friends including Jorge do Prado, president of FEBAB (the Brazilian library association equivalent of IFLA) and its CBBU members (local equivalent of the IFLA ARL Section) gave me reading references, pointed out important topics and revised the document I presented. Even before the event started I already learned a lot about university libraries, about IFLA and the ARL section and mainly about “working together”, the IFLA Congress theme this year.

What did I learn?

Working together was a very fortunate choice, matching IFLA President Christina Mackenzie’s warm vibe. The entire event took a massive group effort. The sessions involved people from several countries and backgrounds, reflecting on very diverse realities, all presenting their challenges and solutions to the most varied problems. From personal data protection to fighting disinformation, from adapting physical spaces to sanitary needs to rebuilding a community after a disaster, from LGBTQIA+ inclusion to artificial intelligence literacy teaching, everyone in the sessions showed alert, creative and caring professionals working to inform, educate and welcome their public.

Of course there is a lot of inequity regarding accessibility, infrastructure, funding and security issues that impact libraries, universities and research in different ways. If a library has – literally – no windows, it can’t open during the pandemic. If the personnel don’t have an Internet connection at home, it is impossible to work remotely. Isolation during long periods of time increase further these asymmetries. Independently of the difficulties a pandemic brings, and we now know they are important, the basic conditions for a library to fulfill its mission should be a concern of all librarians, and maybe even an IFLA discussion topic. This is why I was so pleased to hear WLIC 2021 was the most diverse and inclusive edition ever, with solidarity fees being offered by those who are financially favored in addition to attendance grants.

I could see that this sense of togetherness surpassed the expectations and revealed how the library field is a wide and vibrant community of people all working towards the same goal: to provide access to information and allow for knowledge production and human development to happen in the very best conditions possible.

What changed my mind? What will I do next?

As for the two other questions, I changed my mind about… not being a librarian! I now think I am! Not only do I share these ideals and goals, but I build my research around finding examples of ways to teach information literacy in a political, social justice oriented way that allows for gender (and other) stereotypes to be deconstructed in addition to developing a critical relationship with information. Of course, to be fully accredited I will have to take courses, get a degree and register at the Council, which takes us to the last question, what will I do next? I will enroll in Librarianship college next semester 😀 Now please wish me luck!

Andréa Doyle:
Andréa Doyle is a PhD in Information Science from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro / Post-Graduate Program in Information Science (PPGCI IBICT/UFRJ)

Further references:
– Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro:
– Post-Graduate Program in Information Science: