Group 1. Enabling the institutional environment for openness and sharing of research information and knowledge

April 2014

The Pathways are being redeveloped. Resulting from the  Global CIARD Consultation in 2013, the Pathways structure and content are undergoing substantial change. Watch this space for ongoing developments.


The modern agricultural research institution exists simultaneously in two worlds:

  • the global world of research, where researchers develop new information and knowledge with their peers, and;
  • the local world of information and knowledge and innovation, where specific local/national issues are addressed often with a variety of stakeholders outside the traditional world of research exchange.

In the last decade there has been an increasing focus, globally, on various aspects of the ‘openness’ of information and knowledge - open data, open access, open knowledge, open source, and so on. This openness involves, and is affecting, the world of agricultural information and knowledge as much as any other field of research and development. The impacts are being felt at individual, institutional and national and international levels, from policy development to the day to day behaviour of individuals.

Most research institutions around the world exist in a policy environment governed at least partially by national requirements, which change over time. The national environment has a strong influence on the ways that institutional initiatives might develop, both in the global arena and the more local arena of innovation with local stakeholders. However, institutions do inevitably develop their own information and knowledge environment within this broader national one. In this way they work to meet the specific needs of their varied stakeholders within their particular environment.

In 2011 CIARD carried out a global survey of researcher attitudes to the openness and communication of research outputs. Some of the causes of inhibition of individual or departmental action in research institutions were revealed by this survey. It showed that institutional requirements concerning the communication of research were the strongest positive influencing factor on the communication behaviour of researchers. Further, the researchers perceived that a lack of suitable policy direction was a significant barrier to their communication activity.

This Group of Pathways targets institutional influencers and decision-makers, describing the importance of institutional strategy and policies, and the institutional activities that will be influenced by them.  Institutional cultures will vary substantially in the ways that they view information management and communication and openness, both as positives and negatives. Institutions will vary in the degree to which they have already worked towards increasing openness in their information management. The aim of these Pathways is to show how information and knowledge management policy frameworks and strategies can be developed to enable the creation of an open, digital, information and communication environment for research and innovation. Through a strategic approach of this sort stakeholders of all types (from policy makers to farmers, NGOs to the private sector) can become a part of this information and knowledge openness.