This study examines the state of research in Nigeria. Research is a function that propels the development of nations. A nation that invests prudently in research would reap its dividends. This paper identifies inadequate funding, lack of equipment, project materials, lack of awareness, lack of implementation of research results, etc., as challenges bedeviling research work in Nigeria. The paper concludes with some recommendations that will help tackle these challenges.
The quest for knowledge may be a germane task in a world that increasingly evolves into a global village. Hence, survival in a world of such dynamism can only be tenable through positive adaptation which may be a product of epistemological and ontological truths.
Research is the process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems through the planned and systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data. Research is oriented towards the discovering of the relationships that exist among the phenomena of the planet during which we live (Osualla, 2001). To Ajoku (2006), Research is that look for knowledge, truth, similarities, and relationships.
Okeke (2004) stated that research is an activity that involves observation and outline of the characteristic properties of objects or events for the aim of discovering relationships between variables and developing generalization which could be used to predict future occurrences. Research involves the identification of problems, gathering new data, finding a solution to drag through carefully designed procedures and logical analysis.
In Nigeria there’s an array of research institutions, these institutions range from State-owned to non-public and international research institutions. Nigeria operates a versatile control system where some research organizations are grouped under supervising ministries. These ministries are expected to arrange and control the research institutions under them, while others are independent and self-governing. Stakeholders within the research landscape include National Scientific and Technological Research Centers (NSTRC) like Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, National Universities Commission (NUC), staple Research and Development Council (RMRDC), National Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) and Federal Ministries.
Other stakeholders in the Nigerian research landscape include Public Tertiary Educational Institutions (All federal and state-owned universities, polytechnics, and other tertiary institutions), Non – State educational research institutions and therefore the private sector. An in-depth and comprehensive listing of research institutions is accessible from the internet (FGN, 2010 and NUC 2010).
It is easily observed that in Nigeria research activities favor applied research instead of basic research. This will be explained by the concerns and priorities of foreign funding partners and donor institutions. The apparent inclination of local research institutes toward foreign finance partners is often attributed to the pocket-sized funding from the Federal Government. Nigeria allocates 1% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to research work. This is embarrassingly discouraging and deserves rejuvenation. President Olusegun Obasanjo, towards the tail end of his administration, proposed a $5 billion investment for research via five (5) listed Universities. This fund was expected to enable the schools to rank amongst the primary 200 universities within the world. Unfortunately, this proposal didn’t see the light of the day (UNECO, 2006).
Why research is on the decline?
Research work in Nigeria has suffered a nosedive in recent times. A major and really worrisome characteristic of the local researchers and research institutions is that they perform researches in isolation. Each stakeholder considers itself an island of data within the conduct of research. They provide no attention to what others do, what they need and the way they source for it. This has given rise to much duplicity of efforts and wastages. This lack of a formal relationship between these stakeholders are often attributed to the absence of a national research policy and a legal framework. This shortcoming has amply manifested within the quality, quantity, and rate of application of research findings. Contributing factors to the declining state of research in Nigeria include:
- Research misconduct: Research misconduct and other unacceptable acts in research remain major sources of concern in research work. Research misconduct is usually understood to incorporate the falsification (alteration of research processes, surveys, and project materials), fabrication (inventing and recording or reporting results), and plagiarism (taking the words, ideas, or data of others or self and reporting them without giving due credit). Research misconduct, however, doesn’t include an honest error or differences in opinion.
- Challenges of a multicultural environment: Nigeria is known to be home to people of diverse cultural background, each community gives its special interpretation to the activity of research work.
- Influence of the dominant paradigms: In terms of coaching and career advancement, researchers haven’t fared any better. This is often so in spite of an honest number of coaching centers and institutions. Training and career prospects are hampered by poor infrastructure, poor remuneration, and low motivation.
Also, research institutions in Nigeria present a top-heavy personnel profile. This brings in touch the matter of generation gap – a situation where seasoned and proficient researchers retire and leave the scene without replacement
Inappropriate research design compromises scientific validity and would enable conclusions beyond what research data advocates. (Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences, 2002; FMOH/NHREC, 2007). In Nigeria, institutions involved in research and relevant policy formulating, and implementing agencies of the Nigerian government got to collaborate to determine and make opportunities for systems that support ethical research.
Research is a function that propels the development of nations. A nation that invests prudently in research would reap its dividends. For these benefits to be realized, efforts have to be organized in removing all the constraints/obstacles that militate against project research work and the application of research results. It is for this reason that this study recommends that Nigeria should take the business of research seriously by articulating and implementing a national research policy, a legal framework for the organization of research, a sustainable internal funding mechanism, promotion and utilization of research results, training and motivation of researchers/research workers, refurbishment of research institutions and the provision in the right qualities and quantities of research infrastructures. These may not be easy, but with commitment and determination, they can be achieved and directed to changing positively the socio-economic history of Nigeria.
Research being an endless process should be functional, dynamic and sustainable. The Nigerian government and every stakeholder within the field of research should strive to place in stable and sustainable structures that might remove constraints, enhance and promote research activities, and also channel research results to end-users for application within the attainment of the much needed national economic and social development. The subsequent activities are required for the efficient and effective operation and utilization of research in Nigeria:
- The formation of national research policy and a legal framework will not only identify the aim and objectives of research but will, also establish a framework for the organization, coordination and direction of researchers, research institutions and other stakeholders.
- Well-equipped libraries, research laboratories, and IT facilities should be established and made accessible to researchers all over the country.
- The current state of limited and decaying infrastructures in research institutions, universities and polytechnics must be redressed.
- The semi-colonial nature of research institutions in Nigeria must be discontinued. Researchers and research institutions must have a national outlook and orientation. Therefore, an internal mechanism for sustainable funding of research is imperative. A situation where the country allocates less than 1% GDP to all forms of research is unfortunate. Stakeholders in research and every tier of government should be compelled by law to set aside at least 2% of annual total revenue to research work, and a mechanism set to monitor and regulate the disbursement and application of these funds.
- The twin issues of high illiteracy level and low response rate are acute problems in the Nigerian research environment. Illiteracy inhibits participation by the majority of the population, while the low response rate retards the pace at which the researcher operates. Mass and qualitative education are therefore recommended and the priorities of respondents must be redirected to encourage and facilitate research.
- Security is another problem that calls for immediate attention. To be thorough and comprehensive in the search for knowledge and innovation, researchers need no limitations. Access to every location in the country is imperative. All three tiers of government, institutions and the general public must ensure the security of lives and property. A safe environment is a primary requirement for the effective conduct of research and implementation of research results
- It is equally necessary that adequate support is given to the promotion and publication of research findings. This can be achieved by the establishment of journals and other communication media.
- There is an urgent need for the establishment of linkages and collaborations among researchers, research institutions and all stakeholders on the one hand, and governments, organizations and the general public on the other.
- Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences [Retrieved July 9, 2008];International ethical guidelines for biomedical research involving human subjects. 2002 from http://www.cioms.ch/frame_guidelines_nov_2002.htm.
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