Video used with courtesy of OCSDNet

Surveying Open Data Practices in Research 2020 - Africa

The Internet and progress in digital technologies are increasingly shifting the logic underlying science and research from closed to open systems. This change is affecting even the way data are managed, used and shared. This project will aim to capture the current landscape of open data practices in research. The survey covers eight African countries including Uganda and Ethiopia from East Africa; Burkina Faso and Senegal from West Africa and Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe from Southern Africa.

Open Science is more than open access to publications or data.

Nowadays, it is recognized that, considered together, the three following dimensions of openness constitute Open Science: openness to publications and data, openness to society, and openness to excluded knowledges and epistemologies (Chan, Leslie et al. 2020). This project focuses on Open Data, a subset of Open Science that promotes the idea of research data being shared for scrutiny and re-analysis without unnecessary barriers. In recent years, an increasing number of funders, publishers and institutions have made commitments to fostering data sharing practices within the research community.

How we work

Over the past few years several communities have been working on various aspects of open data. Our survey is built on the work that is out there, to which we have added aspects of local context. All information related to this project will be open.

Build on Existing Work

We're building on existing global and African open science and open data surveys that were conducted in the past.

Share Information

The survey instrument, data, analysis scripts, and website template will be made available under open licenses to facilitate re-use.

Prioritise Interoperability

The project will attempt to release a modular and interoperable bank of questions that can be re-used by everyone to develop new surveys.

Tell us about your research data practices

We aim to get wide participation from researchers and postgraduate students across the target countries (i.e. Uganda, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe). If you are not from a country listed above, you can still participate. We will analyse all data and make the dataset available for others to analyze countries not covered in this project.

Take the Survey

Timeline of Activities

Early 2020 - Preparation

Prepare project proposal, administrative tasks, project preparation

June/July 2020 - Landscape exploration

Analysis of existing surveys, developing of survey instrument, landscaping study of current data sharing regulations and legislations in Africa


June/July 2020 - Stakeholders

Prepare project proposal, administrative tasks, project preparation

July/August 2020 - Ethics

Preparation/submission of ethics review and engagement with national ethics committees (or similar) in the survey countries and submission of applications (where appropriate)


July/August 2020 - Survey Preparation

Translation of survey materials and preparation of online survey platform

August 2020 - Pilot Rollout

Piloting of survey in-country and amendments to survey where necessary


September-November 2020 - Survey Rollout

Dissemination of survey, collection of data, data preparation, analysis & visualisation

November 2020 - Presentation @ Research Data Alliance Plenary

Presentation of preliminary data at RDA Plenary online


November-December 2020 - Analysis & Dissemination

Continued analysis of data and preparation of feedback documents and articles

January 2021 - Project Close-out

Wrapping up reporting, finalising website, feedback to stakeholders


Core Team

The project builds on work from the RDA Interest Group for Surveying Open Data Practices and many others. The core team members for the 2020 African survey are listed below.

team people

Dr Louise Bezuidenhout

Project Lead

Louise is a Research fellow (@InSIS) at the University of Oxford (@UniofOxford). Co-founder of @labhackathon

team people

Mboa Nkoudou Thomas

Survey development, translations, analysis, dissemination

Thomas Mboa is a researcher in Information and Communication, with interest in the Maker Movement, social Innovation, Open science and Scholarly Communication.

team people

Anelda van der Walt

Survey development, analysis, visualisation, website

Anelda is the founder of Talarify, an Africa-based consultancy working with researchers to enhance their research and impact through the use of technology, open science and open educational principles.

team people

Anne Treasure

Analysis, visualisation

Anne has a background in ecology, open data, and data management and recently joined Talarify as research analyst and trainer.

Recent News

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Survey results released

Between September 2020 and January 2021, our open data practices survey targeting researchers in eight African countries was live via the JISC Online Survey Tool.

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The importance of a common data sharing survey for advancing open science in Africa

Cognizant to the fact that to build capacity within research systems in sub-Saharan Africa, a better understanding of current data sharing practices amongst African researchers is needed, the International Development Research Center (IDRC), has commissioned our team to conduct a survey on data sharing practices in Africa.

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