The State and Society: Intervention in the Creation of Scientific Information in Developing Countries

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Development is related to knowledge. Knowledge is derived from information. The availability of information then could significantly increase the effectiveness of the state in all areas and information may therefore be considered vital to the development efforts of any country. Because of both economic and political considerations, the state has a major role to play in the creation of scientific information, especially in African countries. This article examines the role of the state in the creation of scientific information. The political and economic arguments for state intervention in research activity are explored within an African context. Two main instruments that the state uses to effect this intervention, regulation and resource allocation, are examined. Intervention addresses these major areas: creating the infrastructure required for research activity, determining who conducts research and under what conditions, determining what research is to be done, and determining the questions of retention and release of the information created. Some of the effects of this intervention are also discussed, and, finally, the effectiveness of this intervention is examined. It is concluded that the African state suffers from three major drawbacks when it comes to effectiveness in intervention: resources, expertise, and authority. In Africa, the role of the state in the stimulation of the creation of scientific information deserves more attention than it has received to date.

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Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, v. 43, no. 4, p. 323-333