A Virtual Research Model to Help Academics Face the Challenges of the 21st Century

Khaled Wahba
Cairo University, Egypt

[email protected]

Sherif Kamel
American University in Cairo, Egypt

[email protected]

 

Abstract

The academic career and the stages of promotion of teachers and field researchers at the Egyptian universities as well as at many research centers available in Egyptís 26 provinces is guided by a set of rules and regulations that mainly depend on the number of publications that the researcher is producing in a specific period of time. It is also important to note that such publications should be published in well-known and accredited journals, transactions, and conference proceedings amongst others. These publications could be produced jointly with other institutions both locally and internationally. In all scenarios, one common problem always prevails, that is resources and funding. As for funding it is occasionally provided through international donors such as the European Union and the National Science Foundation. However, the problem remains in the local segment where various barriers are slowing down if not blocking the production of up-to-standard publications and research projects that are needed to contribute to the overall development of various sectors both quantitatively and qualitatively. Example barriers would include financial resources, required specialized equipment, as well as computing (hardware and software) and communication resources. In that respect, Scientific Computer Software Applications (SCSA) is becoming frequently the workhorse of research and development activities. Many software packages have been released to help researchers analyze and produce scientific publications. Most of these packages have a complicated design as well as expensive making it difficult to buy and not easy to understand by the user. Egypt, a developing country, lacks funding for research and development activities as compared to the United States and other European countries. The lack of financial resources and the scarcity of required resources make it difficult for academic researchers to build and excel in their academic careers. This paper demonstrates a new model namely; Virtual Research System (VRS), that is free from limitations of spatial distance and time and based mainly on information and communication technologies including the Internet to help leverage the quality and the quantity of academic researchers in Egyptian universities both locally as well as through collaborative work with other international research institutions. The paper provides an opportunity to share a wealth of information and knowledge that was never tapped before through the old accustomed to traditional techniques. The paper also demonstrates that new information and communication technologies are creating many challenges and opportunities for growth in different disciplines including research and development.

Keywords: Research and Development, Virtual Organization, Information Technology, Scientific Research,
Software Development.