|Correct citation:||Ravenswaaij, B. van and Roozendaal, G. van (1995), "Biotechnology and Development Monitor Evaluated." Biotechnology and Development Monitor, No. 22, p. 21-22.|
The objective of the evaluation was to determine ways in which the content and circulation of the Monitor could be further improved, ensuring the spread of relevant information on biotechnological developments. The 4,250 subscribers, who at that time received the journal, represent about a hundred different countries from around the world. 63 Per cent of the subscribers are located in developing countries (see table).
Points of discussion
Since the aim of the Monitor is to report on the socioeconomic impact of biotechnology that is relevant to developing countries, the evaluation team viewed the possible means of internationalization of the Monitor to increase the participation of developing countries. Points of discussion included whether or not the editorial responsibility should be transferred to an international organization or an institute in a developing country; methods of cooperation with other institutions; broadening the international basis of the Monitor; improvement of content and appearance; involvement of readers; other language editions; the strengthening of the Monitor's infrastructure and the lessening of the financial reliance on the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS).
Before the closing date, the readers' survey had resulted in a response rate of 14 per cent. Although this rate is not high, the evaluation team concluded that the response gives a fairly representative geographical reflection of the total subscribers circulation. The survey showed that the readers can be broadly divided into two groups. One group is aware of the potential of biotechnology and the social and economic impact of its various applications, but lacks the time to scan the rapidly increasing amount of material published on different aspects of biotechnology and development. In this group, the Monitor is mainly used to read about developments outside their own specialization. The other group, mainly outside the OECDcountries, has only a limited access to material on biotechnology due to the cost of other publications. For this group the Monitor is an appreciated, inexpensive source of information. 75 Per cent of the respondents, especially those from nonOECD countries, use the Monitor at some time for teaching or writing purposes. This is a principal objective of the Monitor.
On the whole the respondents were quite satisfied with the information the Monitor provides. Especially the relevance of the subjects covered and the reliability of the information was praised. Nevertheless, criticism was voiced on the varying analytical content and on the topicality of the articles. About 25 per cent of the respondents indicated that they would like more articles than present on 'technology in the South', while 40 per cent of the respondents (50 per cent of the nonOECD respondents) asked for more articles on 'technology in the North'. Since the respondents from nonOECD countries are the main focus of the Monitor, the editors have decided to start a series of publications on Japan, the USA and Europe.
|Distribution of the Monitor
The indepth interviews at several (international) organizations revealed that the Monitor is highly valued, but also that some regretted the emphasis on agriculture. On the other hand it was admitted that this bias was justified in view of the needs of developing countries. Furthermore, more case studies of the nature of 'success and failure stories' were requested. The closedclub network of contributors was criticized, and more involvement of scientists from a wider range of developing countries was preferred.
The broadening of the basis of the Monitor, especially through recruiting contributors from developing countries, is envisaged as an important goal. However, the information gathered during the study indicated that the publishing of the Monitor should continue at the current location. In the present setting the editors enjoy sufficient freedom. They can benefit from research taking place at the same institute and have easy access to a wide range of sources of information. In order to facilitate the internationalization, the following has been decided:
|Facts about the evaluation
The evaluation of the Biotechnology and Development Monitor has been
conducted by a team of researchers, headed by Boem van Raavenswaaij
(Socrates International Consultancies, the Netherlands), Juan Izquierdo
(FAO’s Technical Cooperation Network on Plant Biotechnology) and Nagesh
Kumar (United Nations University, the Netherlands), and has been commissioned
by the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS)
of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To increase the geographical coverage of the Monitor, the start of a Spanish edition and the resumption of a French edition are considered desirable. However, financial assistance should be attracted to make this possible. Although some donors have been mentioned, the first steps have yet to be made.
The English version of the Monitor is fully subsidized by the Special Programme Biotechnology and Development Cooperation of DGIS, which allows free distribution. This will continue for the next three years, but after this period DGIS might change its policy, which will force the Monitor to find other donors, to commercialize (for example by introducing a system of (differentiated) subscription fees), or to stop the publication.
The editors will maintain the Monitor's international
focus and independent character. The journal should become an international
forum for discussion and should continue to provide its readers with the
most relevant information on biotechnology developments and its possible
consequences for developing countries.
Boem van Ravenswaaij (Socrates)/
Gerda van Roozendaal
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