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The Effective Information Literate Student

The Effective Information Literate Student | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
  It's that time of year when most librarians go about teaching new students about information literacy and reteaching those that have seemingly had their minds wiped over the six weeks of sum...
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Six research institutions awarded NIH grants to create database of human cellular responses

Six research institutions awarded NIH grants to create database of human cellular responses | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Building on a successful three-year pilot project, the National Institutes of Health has awarded more than $64 million to six research institutions to create a database of human cellular responses, the Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular...
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Grant Writing 101: How to Write a Competitive Fundable Grant!

Grant Writing 101: How to Write a Competitive Fundable Grant! | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Live Webinars and Instant Access Step-by-Step VideoTutorials Teaching Nonprofits, Facebook, Twitter, Online Fundraising, Social Media, and More! (Tomorrow's webinar - Grant Writing 101: How to Write a Competitive Fundable Grant!
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Open Access: Practicalities and benefits of making your research available Open Access

A discussion addressing concerns about Open Access publishing A demonstration of Pure, our institutional repository – how to search for content and upload full-text Tools for assessing publisher’s Open Access policies of journals you would like...
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Flight Tracker on Twitter: "Digital Literacy Is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means http://t.co/uLP6AqwxqT"

Flight Tracker on Twitter: "Digital Literacy Is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means http://t.co/uLP6AqwxqT" | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Digital Literacy Is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means http://t.co/uLP6AqwxqT
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We have to measure literacy and numeracy among university graduates - The Globe and Mail

We have to measure literacy and numeracy among university graduates - The Globe and Mail | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
We need evidence-based education. Great OpEd by @HEQCO's Harvey Weingarten @globeandmail @globe_education http://t.co/MHRZKsm7uu
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Open Access Week

Open Access Week | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
A global event, now in its 7th year, promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research.
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LAUSD's students need better libraries, not iPads - Los Angeles Times

LAUSD's students need better libraries, not iPads
Los Angeles Times
In fact, an internal LAUSD memo from June attests to "the correlation between student achievement and well-staffed and well-stocked school libraries.
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In defence of the African Union | Daily Maverick

In defence of the African Union | Daily Maverick | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it

It’s easy to take pot shots at the African Union – and frankly, these can be well-deserved. But it’s a mistake to write the organisation off entirely. In fact, it does plenty to justify its standing as Africa’s only continental institution. For all its faults, Africa is better with the AU than without it. By SIMON ALLISON for ISS TODAY.

The African Union (AU) gets a lot of flak. Critics often argue that it is slow to respond to security threats; that it prioritises power over justice; and that it fails to adequately represent the needs of this continent’s 1,11 billion citizens.

The continental organisation is often dismissed as a talk shop for tyrants, or depicted as an ineffectual, lumbering bureaucracy that worries more about per diems than it does about Africa’s most pressing political problems.

There is merit to some of these critiques. But they don’t tell the whole story, and they leave out the good bits. It is time to give credit where credit is due, and to recognise that – as imperfect as it may be – Africa is in much better shape with the AU than without it.

First we must acknowledge that the AU operates under several massive constraints, which greatly limit the scope of its ability (if not its ambition, so often couched in the lofty rhetoric of pan-Africanism).

Firstly, it faces an immense financial challenge. Africa is the poorest continent, and also the continent most afflicted by violence. Yet the AU’s budget in 2014 is just US$308 million (to put this in perspective, the United Nations’ budget is US$5,2 billion). In the context of the challenges that the AU is supposed to address, this amount is wholly inadequate. Member countries are intended to contribute to the AU, but while countries such as South Africa and Nigeria pay more than their fair share, many struggle to meet their financial commitments. Still more funds must be raised from international partners.

Why does this matter? Because successful interventions – be they medical, humanitarian, military or police – are expensive. For example, the United Nations (UN) estimates that US$600 million is necessary to contain the spread of Ebola (the AU has so far contributed just US$1 million from its humanitarian fund), while there is an US$800 million shortfall in the international fund to prevent famine and relieve suffering in South Sudan.

Peacekeeping is particularly expensive. The latest budget for Monusco, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is US$1,4 billion. It’s all very well to strive for African solutions to African problems, but the truth is that Africa simply can’t afford to address major crises on its own. Nor should it. The developed world, with its long history of interfering in Africa’s affairs, often with disastrous results, must bear some responsibility – and not just when the interests of the major powers are at risk.

Another major constraint is the structure of the institution; essentially a club of member states with no distinction between elected or unelected national leadership. All African countries, with the exception of Morocco, are members – and all have an equal vote. In organisations such as the European Union (EU), by comparison, membership is by invitation only and countries must meet certain economic criteria. This distinction is crucial. The AU is a political organisation first, whereas the EU is premised on economic cooperation. Although often compared, the two organisations are fundamentally different.

Giving all African countries a say, regardless of their political, economic or human rights background, can make it difficult for the AU to execute a progressive mandate. (It should be noted that the AU does take a stand against unconstitutional changes of government, with suspensions handed out recently to Madagascar and Egypt until both had held new elections.) Present at every AU summit are some leaders who do not domestically subscribe to the values of individual human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Nonetheless, one of the true ironies of the AU is how these same leaders are prepared to commit – on paper, at least – to high standards of human rights, democracy and good governance on the continent.

It is in this context, and mindful of these constraints, that the achievements of the AU and its Commission should be assessed – rather than against the rubric of impossible ideals.

Take, for instance, the recent amendment to the protocol on the proposed new African Court on Justice and Human Rights, passed in June at the AU Summit in Malabo. The amendment sparked an outcry from civil society and rights groups, because it gives heads of state and senior government officials immunity from prosecution for serious crimes. Fair enough.

But the outraged headlines failed to mention that there is a lot more to the draft protocol than this amendment – and much of it is ground-breaking stuff. It gives the proposed new court jurisdiction over corruption, money-laundering, human and drug trafficking, and piracy – in addition to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The scope of the court’s ambit is a tacit recognition of the deep links that exist between conflict, corruption, terrorism and other transnational crimes, and gives prosecutors the necessary legal tools to take on these networks as a whole.

African leaders did vote to protect themselves in the African Court protocol, but they also broke new legal ground in adopting a holistic approach to the prosecution of serious crimes. This approach will be vital to the continent’s future counter-terrorism and conflict resolution strategies, when (cynics would say if) the court gets off the ground.

The AU also attracts criticism for not responding fast enough to crises (such as in Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic and Libya), leaving it up to the likes of France to intervene militarily. A general lack of military muscle (and finances) makes such intervention impossible – but this doesn’t stop the AU from assuming important conflict prevention and mediation roles.

“In terms of peace and security issues across Africa, there have been considerable achievements from the African Union, even though there are still challenges,” says Ambassador Olusegun Akinsanya, regional representative for the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa.

Some of these achievements are high-profile, such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which has almost single-handedly stabilised large parts of Somalia in the absence of the UN. (After the Black Hawk Down incident, the UN was just not prepared to engage.) Other efforts go under the radar – such as the recent special meeting in Nairobi of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, where African leaders gathered to adopt a unified counter-terrorism strategy. Threats like terrorism are often transnational in nature, which means responses must be at the regional or continental level. The AU plays a vital role in coordinating these responses.

This coordination role extends to other areas too. It was under the auspices of the AU that African leaders agreed on Agenda 2063, a 50-year roadmap towards a more peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa; and they approved the common African position on climate change, which ensures that Africa has a unified (and therefore more powerful) voice at international climate talks.

It’s easy to dismiss documents such as Agenda 2063 as fanciful indulgences, but the truth is that when the AU does seek to support specific values, they do eventually frame approaches elsewhere in the continent. One good example of this is on the issue of regional integration, which the AU has strongly encouraged.

This is now starting to bear fruit, with the East African Community leading the way by relaxing work permit restrictions for citizens of member states, allowing freer movement across borders and minimising cross-border tariffs. Another is the adoption of the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy, which encourages governments to adopt a broader – and likely therefore more effective – definition of maritime security, even if it is a bit unwieldy.

Under severe institutional constraints, the AU can’t always take the big decisions or make the grand gestures that we’d like it to. But it puts a lot of effort, much of it effective, into smaller initiatives that yield incremental results, and for this it deserves recognition.

“I believe that Africa is better off with a pan-African organisation like the AU,” says Akinsanya. For all the organisation’s faults, it’s hard to disagree. DM

This feature first appeared on ISS Today, a publication of the Institute for Security Studies.

Photo: A general view of the 22nd African Union Summit at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 30 January 2014. EPA/DANIEL GETACHEW


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Charles Tiayon's curator insight, September 12, 8:30 AM

It’s easy to take pot shots at the African Union – and frankly, these can be well-deserved. But it’s a mistake to write the organisation off entirely. In fact, it does plenty to justify its standing as Africa’s only continental institution. For all its faults, Africa is better with the AU than without it. By SIMON ALLISON for ISS TODAY.

The African Union (AU) gets a lot of flak. Critics often argue that it is slow to respond to security threats; that it prioritises power over justice; and that it fails to adequately represent the needs of this continent’s 1,11 billion citizens.

The continental organisation is often dismissed as a talk shop for tyrants, or depicted as an ineffectual, lumbering bureaucracy that worries more about per diems than it does about Africa’s most pressing political problems.

There is merit to some of these critiques. But they don’t tell the whole story, and they leave out the good bits. It is time to give credit where credit is due, and to recognise that – as imperfect as it may be – Africa is in much better shape with the AU than without it.

First we must acknowledge that the AU operates under several massive constraints, which greatly limit the scope of its ability (if not its ambition, so often couched in the lofty rhetoric of pan-Africanism).

Firstly, it faces an immense financial challenge. Africa is the poorest continent, and also the continent most afflicted by violence. Yet the AU’s budget in 2014 is just US$308 million (to put this in perspective, the United Nations’ budget is US$5,2 billion). In the context of the challenges that the AU is supposed to address, this amount is wholly inadequate. Member countries are intended to contribute to the AU, but while countries such as South Africa and Nigeria pay more than their fair share, many struggle to meet their financial commitments. Still more funds must be raised from international partners.

Why does this matter? Because successful interventions – be they medical, humanitarian, military or police – are expensive. For example, the United Nations (UN) estimates that US$600 million is necessary to contain the spread of Ebola (the AU has so far contributed just US$1 million from its humanitarian fund), while there is an US$800 million shortfall in the international fund to prevent famine and relieve suffering in South Sudan.

Peacekeeping is particularly expensive. The latest budget for Monusco, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is US$1,4 billion. It’s all very well to strive for African solutions to African problems, but the truth is that Africa simply can’t afford to address major crises on its own. Nor should it. The developed world, with its long history of interfering in Africa’s affairs, often with disastrous results, must bear some responsibility – and not just when the interests of the major powers are at risk.

Another major constraint is the structure of the institution; essentially a club of member states with no distinction between elected or unelected national leadership. All African countries, with the exception of Morocco, are members – and all have an equal vote. In organisations such as the European Union (EU), by comparison, membership is by invitation only and countries must meet certain economic criteria. This distinction is crucial. The AU is a political organisation first, whereas the EU is premised on economic cooperation. Although often compared, the two organisations are fundamentally different.

Giving all African countries a say, regardless of their political, economic or human rights background, can make it difficult for the AU to execute a progressive mandate. (It should be noted that the AU does take a stand against unconstitutional changes of government, with suspensions handed out recently to Madagascar and Egypt until both had held new elections.) Present at every AU summit are some leaders who do not domestically subscribe to the values of individual human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Nonetheless, one of the true ironies of the AU is how these same leaders are prepared to commit – on paper, at least – to high standards of human rights, democracy and good governance on the continent.

It is in this context, and mindful of these constraints, that the achievements of the AU and its Commission should be assessed – rather than against the rubric of impossible ideals.

Take, for instance, the recent amendment to the protocol on the proposed new African Court on Justice and Human Rights, passed in June at the AU Summit in Malabo. The amendment sparked an outcry from civil society and rights groups, because it gives heads of state and senior government officials immunity from prosecution for serious crimes. Fair enough.

But the outraged headlines failed to mention that there is a lot more to the draft protocol than this amendment – and much of it is ground-breaking stuff. It gives the proposed new court jurisdiction over corruption, money-laundering, human and drug trafficking, and piracy – in addition to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The scope of the court’s ambit is a tacit recognition of the deep links that exist between conflict, corruption, terrorism and other transnational crimes, and gives prosecutors the necessary legal tools to take on these networks as a whole.

African leaders did vote to protect themselves in the African Court protocol, but they also broke new legal ground in adopting a holistic approach to the prosecution of serious crimes. This approach will be vital to the continent’s future counter-terrorism and conflict resolution strategies, when (cynics would say if) the court gets off the ground.

The AU also attracts criticism for not responding fast enough to crises (such as in Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic and Libya), leaving it up to the likes of France to intervene militarily. A general lack of military muscle (and finances) makes such intervention impossible – but this doesn’t stop the AU from assuming important conflict prevention and mediation roles.

“In terms of peace and security issues across Africa, there have been considerable achievements from the African Union, even though there are still challenges,” says Ambassador Olusegun Akinsanya, regional representative for the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa.

Some of these achievements are high-profile, such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which has almost single-handedly stabilised large parts of Somalia in the absence of the UN. (After the Black Hawk Down incident, the UN was just not prepared to engage.) Other efforts go under the radar – such as the recent special meeting in Nairobi of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, where African leaders gathered to adopt a unified counter-terrorism strategy. Threats like terrorism are often transnational in nature, which means responses must be at the regional or continental level. The AU plays a vital role in coordinating these responses.

This coordination role extends to other areas too. It was under the auspices of the AU that African leaders agreed on Agenda 2063, a 50-year roadmap towards a more peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa; and they approved the common African position on climate change, which ensures that Africa has a unified (and therefore more powerful) voice at international climate talks.

It’s easy to dismiss documents such as Agenda 2063 as fanciful indulgences, but the truth is that when the AU does seek to support specific values, they do eventually frame approaches elsewhere in the continent. One good example of this is on the issue of regional integration, which the AU has strongly encouraged.

This is now starting to bear fruit, with the East African Community leading the way by relaxing work permit restrictions for citizens of member states, allowing freer movement across borders and minimising cross-border tariffs. Another is the adoption of the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy, which encourages governments to adopt a broader – and likely therefore more effective – definition of maritime security, even if it is a bit unwieldy.

Under severe institutional constraints, the AU can’t always take the big decisions or make the grand gestures that we’d like it to. But it puts a lot of effort, much of it effective, into smaller initiatives that yield incremental results, and for this it deserves recognition.

“I believe that Africa is better off with a pan-African organisation like the AU,” says Akinsanya. For all the organisation’s faults, it’s hard to disagree. DM

This feature first appeared on ISS Today, a publication of the Institute for Security Studies.

Photo: A general view of the 22nd African Union Summit at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 30 January 2014. EPA/DANIEL GETACHEW

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Intellectuals call for international intervention in Balochistan

Balochistan, May 09: There is no end to Pakistan's atrocities against the people of Balochistan. The issue has caught the attention of international law expe...
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Transforming the development agenda requires more, not less, attention to human rights

Transforming the development agenda requires more, not less, attention to human rights | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
RT @openRights_oD: 3 strategies for getting #humanrights into the development agenda: http://t.co/R7aVqk6eTz @social_rights @ESCRNet @SERI_…
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agriculture briefs - Dubuque Telegraph Herald

agriculture briefs - Dubuque Telegraph Herald | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
agriculture briefs Dubuque Telegraph Herald "These training videos are designed to give farmers and local government officials easy access to basic information they will need before harvest equipment starts hitting the roads and highways this fall,...
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Biology Journals Conferences List | OMICS Group

Biology Journals Conferences List | OMICS Group | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
As per available reports about 328 journals, 713 Conferences, 162 workshops are presently dedicated exclusively to Biology and about 3650000 articles are being published on the current trends in Biology.
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UCT professor elected as next President of International Council for Science

UCT professor elected as next President of International Council for Science | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it

A world-renowned mathematician and current South African Research Chair in Computational Mechanics, Professor Daya Reddy from the University of Cape Town, has been named the next President of the International Council for Science (ICSU).The announcement was made at the ICSU's 31st General Assembly in Auckland, New Zealand, this week. Another South African academic, University of Pretoria Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey, has also been elected as ICSU Executive Board Member.

 

Professor Reddy from the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at UCT will take over the reins from Dr Gordon McBean, current President of the ICSU, in October 2017. Professor Reddy is presently the President of the Academy of Science in South Africa as well as the Director of the Centre for Research in Computational and Applied Mechanics.

 

Congratulating Professor Reddy on this remarkable recognition by the ICSU, Professor Danie Visser, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at UCT, said: "Professor Reddy’s election is not only a feather in the cap of UCT, but of the South African science community as a whole for its achievements and contributions to science dialogue and exchanges, and for ultimately helping to address global challenges. This international leadership position will enable UCT and our country’s science community to bring more African-born solutions to the table, when appropriate, and to accentuate the science breakthroughs made in the developing world."

 

According to the ICSU, the non-governmental organisation mobilises the knowledge and resources of the international scientific community to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. The ICSU has a global membership of national scientific bodies (121 members, representing 141 countries) and international scientific unions (31 members).

 

Professor Reddy says: "ICSU is in a special position to promote the values of science and to provide leadership in seeking scientific approaches to the world’s problems. I look forward very much to working with my colleagues in ICSU in the task of realising these goals. I am particularly keen to ensure that ICSU becomes as inclusive as possible, so that as the voice of science we are in fact able to mobilise the scientific community worldwide."

 

Born in Port Elizabeth, Professor Reddy obtained his BSc degree in civil engineering from UCT, followed by a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge. He was appointed professor of applied mathematics at UCT in 1989, and served as dean of its science faculty from 1999 to 2005. In 2004, former President Thabo Mbeki awarded him the Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze) for distinguished contributions to science. He also received the Georg Forster Research Award from the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany in 2012. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the InterAcademy Council, which delivers reports on scientific, technological and health issues for governments and global organisations.

 

Professor Reddy's research interests lie at the intersection of continuum mechanics, applied functional analysis, and numerical analysis and computing. His research programmes address issues such as the formulation in mathematical terms of problems in continuum mechanics; studies of how well such problems are posed; construction by computational means of approximate solutions; and studies of the quality of such approximations. His recent major interests have been in the areas of plasticity, biomechanics and mixed finite element methods.

 

Media release issued by Riana Geldenhuys, Head: Media Liaison, UCT Communication and Marketing Department. Email: riana.geldenhuys@uct.ac.za

 

Photo by Katherine Traut/UCT


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Participatory workshops with non-academics foster positive social impact and work as a research validation mechanism.

Participatory workshops with non-academics foster positive social impact and work as a research validation mechanism. | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Non-academic research users are often powerless in the decision-making processes for how research is communicated. Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez shares lessons from a knowledge exchange toolkit which...
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Prospect Research Basics: Researching Individual Donors

Prospect Research Basics: Researching Individual Donors | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Learn how to identify and research individual donors. (RT @FCWashington: Is your #nonprofit looking to compile a list of individual donors?
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7 Explosive Ways to Upgrade Your Volcano Science Project

7 Explosive Ways to Upgrade Your Volcano Science Project | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
From sparkly explosions to ketchup lava, here are seven creative ways you can take your volcano science project to the next level. (#information 7 Explosive Ways to Upgrade Your Volcano Science Project: It's time to upgrade th...
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Who Defends the Virtual Countries of Tomorrow?

Who Defends the Virtual Countries of Tomorrow? | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Here’s why Estonia is the new frontline in the cyberwar of the future.
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Digital Literacy Is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means |

Digital Literacy Is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means | | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
The entrance to GitHub is the most Instagram-able lobby in tech. It's a recreation of the Oval Office, and the mimicry is spot-on---except for the rug.
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Digital Literacy Is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means |
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'It doesn't make sense': Concerns over enlisting DoD in Ebola response - Fox News

'It doesn't make sense': Concerns over enlisting DoD in Ebola response - Fox News | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Reuters
'It doesn't make sense': Concerns over enlisting DoD in Ebola response
Fox News
10, 2014: Health workers load the body of a woman they suspect died from the Ebola virus onto a truck in Monrovia, Liberia.
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Who are the 3 types of social patients? -

Who are the 3 types of social patients? - | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it

A small number of 42 social patients across four disease states – Fibromyalgia, hemophilia, MS, and asthma were studied by the New Solutions Factory. Most questions were open-ended, which allowed respondents to elaborate but the results are very interesting…

Needs

The latest information on everything related to my condition, especially treatments that might work and practical advice for managing symptoms.

Behaviors

Research on the web, including medical websites. Talk with their physicians. Engage with social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and online (as well as offline) support groups.

Attitudes

People aren’t getting enough information about this condition. I can make a difference by sharing information with my social connections.

Needs

Credible, vetted information that goes beyond new treatments, particularly if it comes from a medical journal, physician, fellow patient, or other “third party” source.

Behaviors

Talk with their physicians and others they know who share their condition. Research on the web. Seek out deeper information and case studies from advocacies, medical journals, social media support groups, and other credible sources.

Attitudes

I don’t really trust drug manufacturers but if I felt their information was accurate and it didn’t take a lot of my time to review, I might share it.

Needs

Alternative information about living with my condition, especially related to diet, supplements, non- medical interventions, and lifestyle.

Behaviors

Search blogs and message boards for examples of success stories with alternative treatments. Rely on their doctors for information.

Attitudes

Big pharma is doing more harm than good. They are trying to market to patients rather than help us and I’m not interested in what they have to say.


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