Motivating Scientific Research and Development:
AbstractScientific research is an important aspect of the function of a university lecturer. It is how he/she carries out this function that determines his/her relevance in the university system and indeed in the scientific community as a whole. Scientific research or investigation may be divided into four sections: mental exercise, investigation of new ideas and principles; improvement of old ideas and principles to conform with the dynamic conditions of nature; and application of established ideas and principles for the benefit of mankind. The university lecturer. as a researcher, has therefore to engage in these areas of scientific endeavour in order to rise above the ordinary teacher and be relevant in this new millennium.
Many university lecturers are eager to engage in scientific research and development. But their efforts have often been vitiated by lack of: adequate conditions for the promotion of interaction with experts; attraction of research grants; establishment of fora for promoting national and international consciousness for research and development; and training and nurturing of young researchers who will continue the research and development culture. In the 1970s Africa had no articulated programmes on lipid research and development and there was 1ittle or no dissemination of information on lipid research unlike in other continents of the world where lipid programmes and activities were well established. There was therefore the need to inform and motivate research scientists in Africa on lipid studies.
This paper has therefore presented my research and development experience in lipid studies which I has spanned over two and a half decades, and has been able to motivate research scientists. Some of the , areas that are relevant pertain to the fact that during this period of research and development I have been able to:
(i) Interact with experts in lipid studies at international conferences and association meetings in many parts of the world to be able to teach my younger colleagues new developments in the area of lipids.
(ii) Attract research grants from national and international organizations to be able to investigate and research on different aspects of lipids, and widen my research horizon and those of my research students.
(iii) Establish national and international organizations for promoting consciousness on lipids. One of these organizations, the African Lipid Biochemists Association was responsible for organizing the African Conferences on the Biochemistry of Lipids which were held in 1988 and 1990.
(iv) Train and nurture research and development scientists in the area of lipid and lipoprotein research. Some of my students and trained researchers are now very senior members of academic staff in different universities.
The significant finding in these my lipid studies is that there are numerous conditions in Africa that limit research and development. Some of these conditions include: lack of adequate information on research and development activities and results; lack of adequate funding for research and development; political and social instability; and lack of appropriate manpower for research and development activities.
The way forward for research and development is that African researchers must keep pace with developments that are going on in other parts of the world. The African governments, industries and organizations must pay more attention to research and development and support scientific activities and Associations. There must also be social and political stability for research and development to thrive. In addition to the above conditions there must be in place able and capable leadership in all areas of endeavour, be it in the government, in institutions of higher learning, in scientific organizations and associations for effective improvement in research and development in this new millennium. For the educational system in particular there must be educational curricula, in the post secondary levels, that emphasize research and development. It is only by implementing the above recommendations that Africa can be relevant and survive in this 21st century.
Bio-Research Vol.1(1) 2003: 15-28
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