Research Objectives:

The overall objective of this project is to understand whether and under what contexts, circumstances or conditions open science and the drive towards commercialization work together and highlight cases where these seemingly contradictory policy positions have been creatively blended successfully. The project addresses the following specific objectives:

  1. Determine the extent to which the cultural tensions has affected the researchers’ ability to publish, follow-on innovation and collaborate with others not party to existing contracts
  2. Document the experiences, behaviour patterns and practical challenges faced by researchers in collaborative research
  3. Determine the extent to which potential conflicts over IP constitute a barrier to collaborative research
  4. Investigate how the various research partnerships are governed (formal versus informal) and the influence of each type of governance in resolving potential conflicts
  5. Identify the strategies and training needs required to support researchers engaged in collaborative research


Research Problem:

The shift and renewed emphasis on commercialization at the national (policy); organizational (institutional) and partnership (operational) levels have led to cultural tensions between academic traditions (with its emphasis on open science as a public good) and a commercial culture that emphasizes on privatization of knowledge. These contradicting positions and the lack of a guiding policy/principles on how to harmonize the two has had effects on the behavior, choices and rights of individual researchers in universities/PRIs. Such effects are manifested in the researchers’ ability to disseminate research (publications); opportunities for follow-on innovation and participation in new collaborations with partners not party to existing contracts

Research Question(s):

  1. To what extent do policies/practices that enhance open science and those promoting commercialization actually conflict?
  2. Under what conditions, contexts and circumstances can the two opposing policy positions be blended to work together?
  3. How have policy contradictions affected the choices, practices and behaviour of researchers involved in collaborative research projects?


Research Approach & Methodology:  

Through a series of case studies, this project is interrogating the extent to which policy tensions have affected the choices, behavior and practices of researchers involved in collaborative research in Kenya.

Specific methods include:

  1. Document review of key policy and strategy documents; contracts between funding agencies and the researchers, and partnership agreements between research institutions.
  2. Key informant interviews with selected practitioners and policymakers in which issues emanating from initial documentary reviews are explored.
  3. In-depth interviews with researchers, research managers and funding agencies identified within the selected case studies
  4. Focus group discussions to interrogate power relations, raise awareness and initiate a process of dialogue amongst different actors and
  5. Stakeholder workshops to encourage interactions and dialogue between researchers, research managers, policymakers and funding agencies with a view to forging consensus on policy guidelines and disseminate the findings.


Emerging Findings:

  • Within Kenya, there are a variety of policies in place to support open science, but the actual implementation and practice of these policies is slow to catch up.
  • We see that there is a trend both in the use and uptake of open science practices, as well as in IP-protection pathways