QNRF Newsletter Archive

QNRF hosts Global Research Council meeting

Attendees at the recent Regional Meeting of the Global Research Council in the Doha office of QNRF.
QNRF bid for the right to host the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Meeting of the Global Research Council (GRC) at its Doha headquarters in December.

A virtual organization, set up by the Washington-based National Science Foundation, the GRC is designed to foster long-term collaboration between those countries engaged in research. Several Regional Meetings are held each year in different parts of the world, with representatives from regional funding agencies in attendance, culminating in an Annual Meeting (the next Annual Meeting will be in Beijing) at which the input from the Regional Meetings is consolidated and developed into strategy aimed at meeting the goals of the GRC and its members.

The MENA Regional Meeting spanned two days, with the agenda covering the two major topics of “Funding the Future” on day one, with day two being devoted to “Open Access”. Senior members of QNRF attended with Dr Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, Executive Director, QNRF, in the chair. Local participants from Qatar’s Supreme Education Council, Qatar University, Qatar National Library, The Ministry of ICT, Silatech and Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation attended. In addition, representatives from the national funding agencies of Bahrain, China, Egypt, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman and the USA gathered, with several participants acting as moderators during the presentations.

As perhaps one would expect the presentations and discussions on “Funding the Future” revealed a number of similarities in the types of funding mechanisms supported by the agencies, as each member country focuses on creating and sustaining successful growth through research-driven innovation. Common topics were how to define national priorities, particularly that of water security, which cropped up across the region, addressing regional problems and how to build cross-disciplinary and multi-collaborative teams.

Day two saw the topic of Open Access (OA) on the table and a lively interaction regarding the frameworks within which such a concept could and should thrive. Topics such as which parties should pay for a system that, on the face of it, offers free access to research papers and publications and how researchers could benefit from publishing in the less well-known, but peer-reviewed, “e” journals that compete with the long-established traditional channels - still mainly in printed form - prompted a stimulating discussion. Whilst there was a general consensus amongst the MENA countries that the principle of OA should be supported, related issues such as the protection of intellectual property rights and maintaining a country’s competitive advantage also surfaced, alongside how the common infrastructure, templates and so on, would be developed and by whom as the MENA region develops a platform suitable for presentation to the global research community.

In summary it emerged that many countries are trying to develop similar policies concurrently as they attempt to secure the transition from their traditional economic bases to knowledge-based economies, and it is hoped that, by engaging in such open discussions, new strategies will emerge that may dramatically reduce development expenses. By eliminating factors that introduce process variability, uncertainty and risk could be further reduced.

Further information on the activities of the GRC can be found at http://www.globalresearchcouncil.org/

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