Research is a largely under-rated topic. Many do not see its essence or importance and hence hiss it off. When you ask an average Nigerian what research is, they can simply define it as that ‘project thing’ they do at the end of a four- or five-year course in the university. However, research is not merely a written document that is useful for academic circles only, it is pivotal to every aspect of a country and is essential for development plans especially in a developing country such as Nigeria. Research is the careful, detailed, and systematic collection of data in order to increase knowledge in a field of study. Research also helps to inform actions to be taken for the betterment of society at large.
Research is needed in every area of life such as medical, sciences, agricultural, economic, education, general human life, culture, and social studies. For example, in the educational sector, it is only when educational researchers collect data on a particular problem and do the appropriate research based on these data that accurate and precise solutions to the problem can be recommended. The government can then be guided on policies and laws to be made to solve the problem. Research is also useful and can be translated into economic development which will help to eliminate poverty and improve quality of life. The question however is, why can we not see the benefits of research in Nigeria as other developed nations of the world are doing. What are the problems with research in Nigeria?
Problems of Research in Nigeria & Solutions
Read on below:
Lack of funding
This is the major and bedrock hindrance to effective research in Nigeria. It is difficult to have credible research activities in Nigeria due to lack of funding. The government does not see the importance of research and will prefer to divert funds to other businesses such as political activities.
Inaccessibility to data and information
Nigeria has a country that has always suffered from poor record-keeping over the years. The inaccessibility to needed data to conduct qualitative research is a huge hindrance to the success of research in Nigeria. You will barely find a database where researchers can easily retrieve data and information needed. Also, information on the internet and even in print are usually expensive these days so most researchers abandon the project before they even start. A solution to this problem is if the government can collaborate with other corporate and private organisations operating within the country to provide researchers with subsidized access to any information needed for conducting their research in Nigeria.
Ineffective education system
The problem of research in Nigeria cannot be simply tackled at the surface level, it runs deeper. In order to have effective researches, we must have well-trained students starting from basic education right up to tertiary institutions. For example, most Nigerian schools only teach students about the theoretical aspect of research and not how to practically apply the knowledge found to other areas of life. Without a functional educational system that teaches researchers to-be on how to read extensively and write well, there will be little hope left for research in the future.
Poor technological advancement
Most researchers in Nigeria only know of the traditional methods of researching. Nowadays, data that are useful for research are stored in a technological database online. A researcher who does not know how to operate these will not be able to conduct research effectively and this would affect the quality of research. A solution to this problem is that technical skills and learnings should be inculcated in the school curriculum to efficiently prepare students for research.
Lack of Equipment
Most of the research activities take place in tertiary institutions and research institutes. However, most of these institutes and universities lack equipment for carrying out proper research projects. In Nigeria, modern research equipment and laboratories (for the sciences) are hard to find, there is also the use of archaic educational facilities and research infrastructure such as libraries.
An example of the poor state of infrastructure in Nigerian schools is the libraries. These libraries are usually understocked only with old research materials that are not useful to modern-day research. Nigerian libraries need to be up to date and stocked with new rules, reports, and publications. The functional libraries in Nigeria are usually private-owned and expensive for the average researcher. The government needs to make policies through the ministry of education that will make such basic equipment as well-stocked libraries and laboratories compulsory.
Lack of Collaboration
Since Nigerian universities and research institutes are not well-equipped, it is necessary to collaborate with scientists in advanced countries so we can come up with better researches in Nigeria. Such collaboration majorly includes the use of state-of-the-art equipment that is available in advanced countries, access to up-to-date data, and information that will be used to make researches and discoveries that can be converted into practical and relevant applications for the Nigerian environment.
Illiteracy of the masses
Most Nigerians do not see the value in research because of the culture where education is not valued. Even those who go to higher institutions and are expected to be enthusiastic about research are usually not interested. Students often look for the easiest and quickest means to do their research work, even if it means plagiarism and other crooked means. If those trained in school cannot be properly educated on the importance and relevance of research, then it will be hard for anyone to take research seriously. Students need to be willing to go through the rigorous task of reading and sourcing for information. Many do research work just for academic reasons such as passing an examination, publishing in journals, etc. The average student and researcher need to be re-orientated. Many do not realize that their research work has to be applicable in the specific area of study.
Lack of proper research ethics
There are principles of ethics that should be followed when conducting any form of research. The basics include non-plagiarism, the authenticity of work, secrecy when given access to data and information, etc. Researchers in Nigeria must be well trained to be aware of these ethics, principles, and approach and to abide by them in order to make sure research is qualitative.