Young scholars in the developing world who want to publish research articles are often stymied by a shortage of books on statistics and research methods. Longwood University faculty members recently joined in an international effort to help.
About 100 statistics textbooks were donated to the Research Methods Library of Alexandria in Egypt by faculty members in Longwood’s College of Education and Human Services. The library, part of the venerable Library of Alexandria, is devoted to improving scientific publishing in Africa and throughout the developing world by providing greater access to information related to research methods.
Longwood was among more than 100 donors worldwide, mostly college professors, whose contribution of 6,000 books on research methods and statistics is establishing the library.
"It’s gratifying to be part of a useful effort that will help young scholars," said Dr. Chrys Kosarchyn, professor of health education, who spearheaded the Longwood effort. "These 6,000 books represent the beginning of an ongoing effort."
The Longwood books were shipped Aug. 17 to a warehouse in New York City and by the end of August will be sent via cargo ship to Egypt. Bookplates identify them as being from Longwood’s College of Education and Human Services. The dean of the college, Dr. Paul Chapman, paid for the shipping.
The books were donated by Dr. Audrey Church, Dr. Ruth Meese and Dr. Peggy Tarpley after Kosarchyn, who also donated books, sent out an email last spring. Meese and Tarpley retired at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.
"It’s hard for college professors to part with their books because we like them so much," said Kosarchyn with a laugh. "Fortunately, statistical methods, which are crucial in research, don’t change, so even older stats books are still useful."
The Research Methods Library of Alexandria, the first such library in the world, describes itself as a "one-stop shopping center for answers to research methods." It services 30 regional university centers in Africa and includes a help desk that answers questions over the Internet.
The library also houses the so-called "Supercourse," which offers 183,000 free online PowerPoint lectures on global health issues and other science-related topics, and more recently also statistics, throughout the world. "I’ve used some of these lectures in my classes," said Kosarchyn, who called the Supercourse "another way the library is improving knowledge."
The Research Methods Library of Alexandria project was initiated by Dr. Ronald LaPorte, director emeritus of the former World Health Organization Collaborating Center at the University of Pittsburgh. It is endorsed by the American Statistical Association, the International Biometric Society and the Royal Statistical Society.