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SERP-P members reunite, discuss updates and ways to move forward in third biennial meeting

“To strengthen partnership and collaboration in promoting knowledge sharing” has been the central theme of the recently concluded SocioEconomic Research Portal for the Philippines (SERP-P) third biennial members’ meeting. Fifty-one participants representing 32 member-institutions from various parts of the Philippines gathered on December 10 at the C.P. Romulo Hall, NEDA sa Makati Building, Makati City.

The biennial meeting is organized for the member-institutions to jointly assess the SERP-P network’s performance, identify strategies to address issues, and devise approaches for the way forward.

The meeting started with a presentation of the progress of SERP-P since the second meeting two years ago. Dr. Sheila Siar, project manager of SERP-P, took note of the growth of the portal and expansion of the network’s membership but also highlighted the challenges in sustaining the project. “Out of 53 member-institutions, only a third of the SERP-P membership is active or regularly contributing materials to the portal,” she reported. She added that a number of member-institutions have not yet signed the SERP-P memorandum of agreement (MOA) despite regular follow-up.

This and other issues were discussed by the participants through a workshop in the afternoon. They brainstormed on possible solutions and strategies to address participation issues. During the workshop, there was a general feeling that SERP-P is beneficial in forging partnerships with other member-institutions and promoting collaborative networking and information sharing. In terms of ways to encourage active participation among the members, particularly in contributing materials to the portal, majority of the participants recommended constructive strategies such as output-based ranking at the end of the year and incentivizing top performers through nonmonetary rewards (e.g., certificate of appreciation) rather than penalizing inactive members.

Part of the meeting was also the launching of the redesigned SERP-P website and content management system (CMS) presented by Ms. Kristine Carla Oteyza and Mr. Ronald Yacat, SERP-P coordinator and technical consultant, respectively. Both the website and the CMS were updated to provide users with a more user-friendly interface and functions. Member-institutions can now post events and announcements in the SERP-P website using the new CMS. Materials contained in the database have been categorized into research themes and year of publication making it easier for the users to search for materials.

The involvement of SERP-P in the “OKHub” project, otherwise known as the Global Open Knowledge Hub, was also discussed in the meeting through a recorded presentation by Mr. Simon Colmer, information project officer of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, the project proponent. The OKHub (http://okhub.org/) is a new portal that supports knowledge producers and consumers, particularly those in the Global South, by increasing the availability of research from developing countries through an open-access platform. At present, among the materials in the SERP-P database, only the publications of PIDS are included in the OKHub. This is because the current MOA on the SERP-P does not cover the OKHub yet. When the MOA was made a requirement for formal SERP-P membership two years ago, the OKHub was non-existent. To contribute materials to the OKHub, a SERP-P member would just need to inform the SERP-P team. There is also a plan to incorporate the OKHub in the SERP-P MOA.

Meanwhile, Mr. Novel Bangsal, Director at the Congressional Policy, and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) of the House of Representatives (HOR), gave a presentation of the Electronic Resource Base for Legislation (ERBL) project, a joint initiative of PIDS and CPBRD-HOR, which is also a SERP-P member. The ERBL is a database of key legislative bills being considered in the House of Representatives. It contains a facility that displays research materials, including resources in the SERP-P, which can be used in the discussion and deliberation of a particular bill.

The meeting ended on a high note with members showing renewed appreciation to the SERP-P project and network. Jointly, they have agreed that as SERP-P’s reach expands beyond the Philippines and as it evolves into a more advanced knowledge repository, the cooperation of everyone is needed to keep the momentum going. SERP-P, after all, is a project whose sustainability and further development depends on its members’ continued support and active involvement.