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Digital innovation for food security: a case study of the TEEAL programme and its contribution to agricultural research output in African institutions

Michael Chimalizeni
Gracian Chimwaza
Blessing Chataira
Baseema B KrKoska


This article looks at The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL), an innovative offline database, and its impact on research output in agricultural institutions in Africa. The article also examines some lessons gathered from 10 years of training and outreach on the system in Sub-Saharan Africa. TEEAL, a project of Cornell University’s R. Mann Library, in cooperation with over 50 major scientific publishers, societies, and index providers, is a digital collection of research journals for agriculture and related sciences. Researchers, students, academic staff and librarians can discover and access thousands of full-text PDF articles without the use of the Internet. Through TEEAL, scientists in developing countries now have access to current research; but has this access translated into effective research and teaching? Several studies have been carried out to evaluate whether TEEAL was meeting its objective of contributing to the enhancement of the quality and effectiveness of agricultural research and teaching through improving students’ and researchers’ access to relevant literature. The studies took various approaches in collecting data including a questionnaire, interviews and a bibliometric analysis of publications from institutions that have acquired and are using TEEAL. Results generally show that TEEAL is successfully meeting its objective. Recommendations are made for extending the use of TEEAL sets, particularly the inclusion of more journals from developing countries as a way of further enhancing its appeal to a wider audience.

Innovation, No,44, June 2012