Library of Alexandria to open doors for researchers

Published online 26 August 2012

Rehab Abd Almohsen

Alexandra De Grote / Flickr

Researchers are to be offered the expertise of science and technology staff at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt who will help bring their papers to the high standard required for international publication.

The institution hopes the new service will enhance opportunities for Egyptian scientists to have more impact by giving their work greater exposure. Funds raised through the service will be offered as grants for scientists working on research which will benefit the library itself, such as the preservation of papyrus writing.

Library staff, alongside volunteer scientists, will provide direction in research topics and help with sourcing the most pertinent references. When it comes to writing papers, researchers will be offered professional language editing to ensure their work is presented to its best potential for high-impact journals.

"We will work closely with researchers to help them through the initial stages of developing a research topic and finding innovative ideas," says Tarek Adnan, head of scientific activities at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. "We will also help them find the references they need during the research and offer them professional language editing."

The staff and volunteers will help researchers by conducting extensive searches for previous papers related to their research. Each reference will cost ~US$1.

As long as we have poor scientific output, publishing internationally will not help the country.

The library aims to start by editing 10 papers each month, explains Adnan, who said the language editing services will be free for all researchers who take part in the programme.

The programme will also offer seminars and workshops to researchers in different disciplines, such as nanotechnology. Organisers hope the workshops will encourage the sharing of knowledge and expertise between young researchers and more established ones.

The service aims, ultimately, to raise the international reputation and ranking of Egyptian universities as more published research shows the world what scientists are discovering.

As Essam Khamis, director of the City of Scientific Research and Technological Applications in Alexandria, explains: "Getting published in high impact journals can often be a daunting task because published papers must meet the highest level of scientific rigour, represent original and innovative research, build on previously conducted studies and often be multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary. We must also help researchers find new ways to fund their research."

But Ehab Abdel-Rahman, associate dean for graduate studies and research and director of Yousef Jameel Science and Technology Research Center at the American University in Cairo, was skeptic of the new service, contending Egypt's scientific reputation needed to be addressed on a more fundamental level. "As long as we have poor scientific output, publishing internationally will not help the country. We need a national strategy to solve science research problems and to use research to address the country's problems.

"Teaching researchers how to write successful proposals should begin from schools, where we should be teaching our children how to properly express themselves."