Africa Institute scholar explores connections

Adela Talbot // Western NewsJanet Adekannbi, an information scientist from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, is one of three Visiting Fellows Western’s Africa Institute will host in the coming months. She is currently a guest in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, working collaboratively with Library Information Science professor Isola Ajiferuke.

Janet Adekannbi’s expertise lies in knowledge management – something she hopes to build on, and offer to, the Western community during her time on campus.

Adekannbi, an information scientist from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, is one of three Visiting Fellows Western’s Africa Institute will host in the coming months. She is currently a guest in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, working collaboratively with Library Information Science professor Isola Ajiferuke.

Affiliated with the Africa Regional Centre for Information Science at Ibadan, Adekannbi’s research has focused on knowledge management, social informatics and webometrics in Nigeria. Her most recent project honed in on the transmission of Indigenous knowledge in the provision of medical care in rural communities.

Africa’s rural communities will continue to be primarily served by traditional health-care practitioners and it is unrealistic to imagine government agencies will unilaterally provide “orthodox medical facilities” in all communities. This is why it is important to not only preserve but support, and transmit, traditional medical knowledge in these communities, she added.

“The health-care practitioners are growing old, and this is not something that should be allowed to die,” Adekannbi explained.

“We will continue to need them and that means the knowledge should be transmitted. But information professionals aren’t really thinking about that. They think more about documenting Indigenous knowledge so it doesn’t disappear. Documenting is not a way of transmitting. It’s saying, ‘I know this knowledge exists.’ It’s about archiving the knowledge not putting the knowledge into use.”

Traditional medical practice is just one aspect of Indigenous knowledge, Adekannbi added, and when she returns to Nigeria in November, she hopes to continue this research looking at other aspects.

Among her other research interests, Adekannbi has previously worked on analyzing the characteristics of web links between African and world-class universities. She has supervised research projects on information literacy of rural women on family planning and their preference for folk/modern media in the dissemination of HIV/AIDS information. She is also in early stages of a project looking at the online visibility of Ibadan scholars and the impact of their research.

Coming here to pursue a project in Library and Information Science as a Visiting Fellow with The Africa Institute is an installment in an already established research and collaboration partnership between Western and Ibadan, she said.

Working in partnership with Ajiferuke, Adekannbi is looking at retractions in Library and Information Science (LIS) journals. Over the years, studies have been done on retractions of articles in fields such as medicine, where that occurrence is common. In LIS, this is not well-studied and the pair is looking at the practice over the past 20 years in 85 academic journals specific to the field.

“We are in the process of collecting data on that and what we want to see is, are the articles retracted, when they are retracted, why they are retracted. We want to see if these journals have retraction policies in place and we want to compare findings to those in medical sciences where an article might be retracted for different reasons,” she explained.

“An article could be retracted because the author has plagiarized. It’s possible, in the sciences, if you have results that are irreproducible, the article is retracted – or if data has been falsified, leading to misleading conclusions. We want to see if we have such articles in LIS and the reasons behind that.”

Adekannbi completed her PhD in Information Science, writing her dissertation on attitude and socio-demographic variables predicting knowledge transmission among traditional medical practitioners in rural communities. She also has an M.Inf.Sc degree in Information Science and B.Sc. in Microbiology, all from University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

IF YOU GO

University of Ibadan researcher Janet Adekannbi will be taking part in the FIMS Seminar Series on Sept. 27. Her talk is entitled Collaboration Between Traditional and Orthodox Medical Practitioners in Rural Communities of South-West Nigeria.