Weaknesses in Research Methods of Scientists at Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) and Interventions for Improvement

Sustainable management, conservation and development of Kenya’s forests depend on application of science to generate improved technologies. KEFRI has lately been facing a number of challenges in carrying out its research activities as a result of limited capacity and expertise of research methods skills which are essential in implementing their research activities. As a research methods intern at KEFRI, the main objective of this study was to identify various weaknesses in research methods skills of scientists at KEFRI, during their scientific project implementation and provide ways of improvement. This was achieved through three specific objectives: To develop a database management system for on-going projects to lay the basis for documentation and monitoring of their research activities; to review some of the publications at KEFRI and recommend ways of improving; to improve capacity on research methodology through trainings. The method used in designing the database system involved finding and organizing the information required and dividing it into tables and turning the information items into columns. This was done by specifying the data types and field sizes and specifying primary keys by assigning columns that uniquely identified each row stored in the tables. Each table’s primary key was used as a reference in other tables and three primary keys were specified. These were; project ID, Objectives ID and Activities ID. Table relationships were set by taking the primary key on the one side of the relationship and adding it as an additional column to the table on the many side of the relationship. The Cascade Update Related Fields option and the Cascade Delete Related Records options were chosen and the primary keys updated. On review of documents, technical notes, annual reports, guidelines, research concepts, proceeding papers, papers from a journal and a research note were reviewed. All were graded using general and specific criteria- based on originality of research, academic significance, knowledge contribution at 50%; quality of publications-technical quality; Methodology, findings, clarity of presentation, thoroughness of documentation, citations at 20% ; Relevance/ contribution to policy development at 30%. Training was based on the problems identified during one on one interaction, observation, from data presented by scientists for analysis and a TNA analysis that was carried out. Three tables of project, objective and activities were developed and from these tables forms and reports were generated. Twenty seven percent of the documents reviewed scored less than 80% indicating that they were of low quality. Of the 24 participants 92% (22) indicated that the course was very useful in their areas of research whereas 8% said it was somehow. 88% indicated that the course matched with their qualifications and had gained new skills and techniques in data management and analysis. The data base system developed has facilities to preserve data integrity is useful in monitoring and documentation of all research activities at KEFRI. The reviewed documents indicated serious gaps in terms of scientific writing at KEFRI and recommendations were provided for improvement. Over 90% of the trainee indicated that they gained new skills which improved their levels of job performance.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Theses and Dissertations
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Dr. Aggrey Bernard Nyende, JKUAT and Dr. Vincent Onguso Oeba, Kenya Forestry Research Institute
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