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Annual Review 2008 Providing science and technology information that inspires, informs and impacts on global development

Inspiring individuals and organisations to make informed decisions on science- and technologyrelated issues that impact on sustainable development in the developing world

Contents 01 From the director 03 Our mission and why it is important 04 Our strategic plan and what we hope to achieve 07 Our strategic objectives and achievements in 2008 18 Our financial information for 2008 20 Our staff, trustees and supporters

Annual Review 2008

From the director The financial crisis that swept through the global economy in 2008 came as an unwelcome reality check. It followed more than a decade in which globalisation seemed to be the saviour, promising the developing world a firm path towards economic growth and social progress. The crisis has highlighted two factors in particular. One is that many developing countries continue to depend on commodity exports, making them highly vulnerable to downturns in global demand. The crisis also confirmed that such countries must build the capacity to meet their own social needs — for example, in healthcare and food production — rather than rely on outside assistance. Both factors reinforce the need for developing countries to increase their strength in science and technology, to escape commodity dependence and achieve sustainable growth. And they underline the importance of SciDev.Net's work and that of other organisations sharing our commitment to helping this process through enhancing research communication. 2008, the first year of our new strategic plan, saw SciDev.Net take a number of important steps towards this goal.

At the centre was the launch of a new, more user-friendly version of our website, which includes an enhanced language capacity. It has been widely welcomed. Other developments are described elsewhere in this annual review. Thanks to these developments, our website continues to grow in use and impact, and our other activities are thriving. But the financial crisis has also underlined the challenges that we ourselves face in ensuring that we continue to meet our donors' and other supporters' expectations. I want to thank all those who made our achievements possible during 2008. The list includes not only our staff, our regional coordinators, our contributors, our trustees and our growing global network of advisers, but also all those users of our website and other services whose enthusiastic feedback always comes as a welcome reassurance that our work is important. SciDev.Net looks forward to your continued support as we all face the challenges that lie ahead.

David Dickson director


SciDev.Net inspires people to believe that science can help change the world

Annual Review 2008

Our mission and why it is important "To help individuals and organisations make informed decisions on scienceand technology-related issues that impact on sustainable development in the developing world."

Why is this important? Over recent years, the international community has increasingly accepted that to reduce poverty developing countries must adopt policies that encourage socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic growth. Promoting effective science research and communication help to: • create a political climate that accepts technological innovation as a source of both social improvement and economic growth;

• develop the skills and resources researchers need to communicate among themselves, and convey the results of their research to policymakers; • open up channels that allow the public a significant role in decisions about science and technology, and in the way that these decisions are made; and • find the best way of achieving the promises of science and technology.

•stimulate an innovation culture, both at the top and the bottom of any society, that is essential for achieving sustained economic growth; • disseminate information about science and technology to a wide audience, supporting the understanding and engagement required for open and democratic debate in science and technology; • build the scientific and technical skills required for meaningful participation in the global knowledge community; • provide policymakers with accurate and reliable information relevant to decision-making on science- and technologyrelated issues;

"I would like to say thanks from my organization and on behalf of me for your significant contribution to the development of science and technology, education, health, environment and human resource development. I think this is one of the credible sources for any scientists to get latest, valid, useful, perfect and reliable information." Minaben Patel (Agricultural University, India) June 2008


Annual Review 2008

Our strategic plan and what we hope to achieve We have seen a steady growth in our website's content, use and reputation since it was set up in 2001. It now holds more than 10,000 news, feature and opinion articles about the role of science and technology in developing countries. We have more than 41,000 registered users, over two-thirds of whom are in the developing world.

Our 2008–2012 strategic plan builds on this continued success and will help us to outline goals, harness opportunities and focus our activities over this five year period. Through the strategic plan we hope to: • develop more strategic and distributed management, with responsibilities and tasks increasingly delegated from the central office in London to regional offices in the developing world; • expand our audience to reach more people in both the developing and developed world who are interested in how science, innovation and sustainable development interacts; •ensure we integrate all aspects of our activities in a mutually supportive system and maintain our coherence as an international organisation; • promote and protect the SciDev.Net brand and its reputation for timeliness, authority and accessibility; • successfully monitor our achievements and our impact; and • plan and develop effectively for the future. More details can be found at


"I was originally inspired to make this series after reading some of the coverage on SciDev.Net which sparked my interest in the subject. I found the site invaluable for background information and it also led me to some key contacts." Hugh Levinson (producer, Science in Africa, BBC Radio 4) March 2008

SciDev.Net informs with quality reporting and analysis on the developing world

SciDev.Net impacts on development by making science part of sustainable futures

Annual Review 2008

Our strategic objectives and achievements in 2008

These are our ambitions for ensuring the success of our work. In delivering our strategic objectives we will continue to develop our thinking and the ways we fulfil our responsibilities. We aim to be effective and impact on societies by encouraging science to be at the heart of development. 07

Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Expand our content To provide information written for the developing world by the developing world that resonates with all audiences, maximising impact and promoting discussion around topics of international and regional concern.

Achievements in 2008

Future activities

• In 2008 SciDev.Net published 662 international news articles.

• Delivering relevant content to our users is central to what we do and we intend to further develop our regional and topic gateways.

• Almost all (94 per cent) of our content was written exclusively for SciDev.Net, the majority by developing world authors. •We published an increasing number of stories specific to the regions and key topic areas which increased visitors to our regionaland topic- specific gateways. • We introduced Q&A features, providing insight into key topics from experts in the field. These made up 32 per cent of our features in 2008. • We launched a regular Africa Analysis column by Linda Nordling that has become one of the most read items on the website. • We published 52 opinions and 89 opinion summaries, an increase from 2007, showing our commitment to publish more Southern opinions and analysis.


• In 2009 we will publish a further six spotlights offering insights into key issues and topics. We distribute these to our registrants as well as other relevant individuals and organisations. Topics are Nanotechnology and clean water, Reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation (REDD), Funding for higher education, Vector-borne disease and climate change, Remote sensing for environmental management, and Nutrition and the economic crisis. • We will continue to highlight important reports, research and background resources in topical issues through our 'key documents' and 'links'.

Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Increase our readership To ensure the SciDev.Net website becomes an invaluable resource, helping to disseminate science and technology information to a wider audience, including policymakers, researchers and the public.

Achievements in 2008 • In 2008 SciDev.Net's website received 1.1 million visits and more than 2.5 million page views. • Of these visits, 48 per cent were from developing countries. • November 2008 saw a record number of visits, with 31,840 in one week — 13 per cent higher than in November 2007. • Our registered users increased by 24 per cent in 2008, reaching over 41,000. Registrants receive regular SciDev.Net communications, can submit comments to the website and post items to the free shared notices section. • 71 per cent of our registrants are from developing countries. This exceeds our commitment to ensuring at least two-thirds of our registrants are based in developing countries.

Regional distribution of registrants

Region Sub-Saharan Africa Latin America & the Caribbean South Asia Europe US & Canada China South-East Asia Middle East & North Africa Oceania Other Unknown

2008 (%) 21.4 19.6 17.2 14.7 10.9 6.2 3.7 3.3 1.8 0.6 0.5

• Our largest readership group is science researchers and students, who together make up 36 per cent of our registrants. We also saw an increase in the number of journalists and science communicators using the site in 2008. • In 2008 we extended the website's language capacity, creating Chinese and Spanish full language portals, and a French language portal with headlines and summaries of all new material published. This resulted in 20 per cent of registrants requesting a non-English version of the site. Future activities • We aim to increase our readership by creating awareness of SciDev.Net and exploring new ways to disseminate our articles and make them even more accessible. • We will consolidate our provision of the website in four languages — Chinese, English, French and Spanish.


Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Increase our impact on policy To contribute to a political climate that accepts technological innovation as a source of both social improvement and sustainable economic growth in the developing world.

Achievements in 2008

Future activities

• We organised a successful workshop in Kampala, Uganda, together with the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS). Its aim was to improve African parliamentarian researchers' science communication skills.

• We will continue to develop a strong policy dimension to the news, features and commentary elements of the website.

• We published four 'spotlights' in 2008 on: Antibiotic resistance; Chronic diseases; South–South cooperation, and Tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean. These highlight specific issues that are both topical and hotly debated, and emphasise the links between science research and policy. They present different angles on the debate, offer potential solutions for policymakers and summaries of relevant policy briefs.

• We aim to better understand those engaged in policy debates and to develop appropriate strategies to ensure we reach this key audience. • We will continue to summarise and link to authoritative policy briefs on key science issues in order to help policymakers access reliable and relevant evidence-based materials.

"I wish to commend you for the Policy Brief on 'South–South Research Collaboration'. The pros and cons presented in the brief are indeed critical for Africa particularly at this time when the continent, under the leadership of NEPAD, is championing an African-led research agenda." Sloans K. Chimatiro (senior fisheries advisor, NEPAD) May 2008


Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Use technology to engage more with our users To encourage discussion and interaction among our users, increasing their understanding and engagement, both of which are required to ensure open and democratic debate about the promises and potential outcomes of science and technology.

Achievements in 2008

Future activities

•One of our biggest achievements in 2008 was relaunching our website offering a range of new features and enhancements.

• We aim to build on our existing mechanisms for encouraging comments and dialogue by:

• We improved the navigation of the website through regional and topic gateways using better site design and logical architecture. • We developed language-specific portals in four languages — Chinese, English, French and Spanish. • We enhanced the search facility to increase accessibility to our archive containing more than 10,000 articles. • We made a wider selection of content available through RSS and webfeeds to encourage increased dissemination of SciDev.Net content.

– increasing opinion articles from developing-world experts, including researchers and decision-makers; – increasing editorials from developing-world authors with specific regional focus; – continuing to report live from key events around the world through the SciDev.Net blog. • We intend to explore how new media ­— such as interactive polls, and audio and video streaming — could offer our users different forms of information. We will also explore partnerships with potential content providers.

• We reduced page bandwidths for faster page downloads — improving access in the developing world. • We increased the interaction facility so users can post comments and added social bookmarking tools, including Delicious, Digg and Facebook, for sharing all articles. We also started the SciDev.Net blog which covers all our major events and has stimulated much discussion and debate among our users.


Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Build local capacity To ensure science communication becomes an integral part of both national and international innovation systems, and the international aid agenda.

Achievements in 2008 • SciDev.Net led several science communication workshops in 2008, including two held by the British Council in China, one in Trinidad, and one in Kampala, Uganda, that was organised jointly with the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS). These are primarily aimed at journalists and science communicators but include others involved in comunicating science such as science researchers and policy advisors. • We awarded two internships in 2008 with the support of the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Siriwardhana Chesmal, a South-East Asian science journalist was awarded a threemonth internship, and Chin Tan Shiow, a South Asian science journalist was awarded a six-month internship. Registered users' professions


• We continued to support and mentor a growing network of more than 100 freelancers from developing countries, who together deliver over 90 per cent of our articles. • We continued to support our regional coordinators and their teams in China, Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. • We published four 'practical guides' in 2008: Reporting from science conferences; Reporting science news for television; How to set up a science blog; and Communicating statistics and risk. These provide focused information and advice on communicating science for anyone involved in science and technology, but particularly journalists, professional science communicators and researchers.

Profession science researcher student lecturer/teacher other/unknown editor/journalist consultant government official ngo official health worker policy researcher science communicator research administrator information manager/librarian commercial/industrial manager

2008 (%) 18 14.5 13 14 6.1 6.8 5.4 5 3.3 3.6 2.5 2.5 2.0 1.7

Future activities • We know that building local capacity is important in delivering our work. We hope to build on our existing presence in China, Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa by recruiting local staff in South-East Asia and the Middle East and North Africa to manage our news and marketing in these regions. • We will continue to build local capacity by supporting and mentoring contributors, such as our freelance journalists from developing countries. Our freelancer survey in 2008 led us to develop and start to implement an action plan, including sending out a regular freelancer newsletter and making our guidelines and editing process clearer.

Annual Review 2008

In 2008 SciDev.Net conducted a survey of our freelancers to better understand their needs and ways in which we could work together. We asked the freelancers a series of questions in an online survey about their experience not only of working with SciDev.Net but also of being a science journalist in the developing world. Here are some of the responses to the question: What effect has working with SciDev.Net had on your journalism? "It has introduced me to a new way of writing and editorial demands which I was not familiar with. And which I find fascinating."

"It has improved my ability to read and understand scientific papers." "It has also exposed me to a number of scientists. At one point because of the story that I did for SciDev.Net, I was invited to attend a meeting of scientists in Malawi last year. The scientists appreciated the work that I did and the good work that SciDev.Net is doing." "I am proud that SciDev.Net has been another opportunity to meet with other experienced scientists and strong professionals in science journalism from around the worldwide; this will help me to strengthen my career."

• We will continue with our two science journalism internship programmes supported by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). • We will continue to develop broader capacity building activities such as science communication workshops. • We intend to publish four 'practical guides' for science journalists and science communicators in 2009, based on specific topics including effective reporting on climate change, and science and innovation policy.


Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Respond to user demand To enable SciDev.Net to make future plans and developments that meet users' evolving needs, and to create a user experience with enduring value.

Achievements in 2008

Future activities

• Helping our freelancers develop is a key activity and reflects our commitment to capacity building for science journalists and communicators at a local level. In 2008 we surveyed our freelancers to better understand their needs and asked them a series of questions about their experience, not only of working with SciDev.Net but also as a science journalist in the developing world.

• We will continue to implement changes suggested by the freelancer survey, and will create a cohesive and supportive network for our freelancers.

– Almost 70 per cent of respondents said that writing for SciDev.Net has improved their written English skills. – 71 per cent said that writing for SciDev.Net had increased their knowledge and appreciation of science. – The survey confirmed that many science journalists in the developing world feel isolated in their work. – 85 per cent said they would benefit from a regular communication from SciDev.Net. – 39 per cent said that persuading government sources to comment on news stories was often difficult. • We are already addressing the survey's findings, and have started communicating regularly via a freelancer newsletter and providing appropriate practical guides to suit their needs.


• Given the success of the Africa Analysis column by Linda Nordling, we will explore the possibilities for commissioning more columns on other key topics by leading international experts. • We have a responsibility to ensure we use a variety of means to understand both our current and target audiences, and ensure that what we offer meets their needs. In 2009 we will undertake a user survey to assess their needs and explore options for future developments.

Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Improve access to research To make the research community more aware of the need for better science and technology communication, both with policymakers and the public, and the institutional and cultural changes needed to bring this improvement about.

Achievements in 2008

Future activities

• Through our established relationships with Science and Nature we provided our readers with direct access to scientific and technological research articles and features.

• We will maintain and develop our existing relationship with the journals Science and Nature, and develop relationships with other relevant journals.

• We summarised and linked to about 80 key research and commentary articles from other major journals, including The Lancet, NEJM, PLoS journals, Nature research journals and PNAS. • We introduced a science communication gateway collecting together all our news and background resources on issues of access to research.

• We hope to identify other opportunities for collaboration with organisations, including partnering with regional journals. • We will continue to expand our website resources, such as 'key documents' and 'links' to significant papers, reports and organisations.

• We continued to develop our 'key documents' and 'links' giving access to significant reports, scientific articles presenting research findings, and relevant organisations working on science and development.

"Just wanted to thank the SciDev.Net team for an excellent resource. Your site is a great place to scan for developments, and I look forward to seeing more of the topic-specific dossiers you compile. Good job!" Dr Hassan Masum (senior research analyst, McLaughlin-Rotman Center for Global Health, Canada) September 2008


Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Increase strategic alliances To ensure dissemination of science and technology information is not restricted to narrow groups of decisionmakers, and to tap into international networks that facilitate inclusiveness in the decision-making process.

Achievements in 2008

Future activities

• We agreed content partnerships with the Guardian Environment Network and Alertnet. These partnerships mean that our content is reaching developed and developing world audiences beyond those visiting the website.

• We intend to identify and build strategic alliances with a number of national, regional and international organisations, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, South-East Asia and Africa regions. We hope these will increase the amount of relevant regional content we publish and therefore the value of our regional gateways, especially to policymakers.

"It was such a wonderful experience for me of writing with SciDev.Net. The editors were helpful and professional. More importantly, the experience changed many of my ideas about science journalism and switched my focus onto more of development issues rather than a simple innovation. It also expanded my vision and my network. It opened another door to me. So, I would like to write for SciDev.Net forever." Chong Wu (freelance journalist, China) September 2008


Annual Review 2008

Strategic objective:

Build a strong and sustainable financial base To develop and maintain a secure financial base in order to sustain operations, fund activities, and nourish the growth of the organisation.

Achievements in 2008

Future activities

• SciDev.Net renewed multi-year funding with the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

• We will continue with our strategy for SciDev.Net's sustainable financial future by identifying and developing relationships with potential new funders and sponsors.

• We secured project funding for several 'spotlights': one on Antibiotic resistance from Action on Antibiotic Resistance (ReAct) and three others from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

"It has built in me a culture of tracking the emerging science news and events and in sourcing for compelling story ideas for both local and international media audiences." Zablon Odhiambo (freelance journalist, Kenya September 2008


Annual Review 2008

Our financial information for 2008 Report and summary of financial statements, year ending 31 December 2008 Notes on financial statement During 2008, SciDev.Net received the bulk of its operational support from three organisations: the UK Department for International Development (DfID) (£163,372), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) (£233,496), and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) (£235,990). In addition, the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) gave SciDev.Net funding to cover two science journalism internships (£32,859). A grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) (£78,234) covered various costs associated with developing the new website, as well as the costs of producing three 'spotlights'. The annual accounts indicate that the income we received during 2008 was £140,384 less than the expenditure we incurred during the year. The difference was due to funding received in 2007 for expenditure that was deferred to 2008.


Statement of financial activities Incoming resources

2008 £

2007 £





Incoming resources from generated funds: Voluntary income Investment income Other incoming resources


Total incoming resources









Total resources expended



Net income/(expenditure) before transfer



Total funds at 1 January



Total funds at 31 December



Resources expended Costs of generating funds Charitable activities Governance costs

Trustees' statement These summarised accounts have been extracted from the full annual financial statements (prepared in accordance with the Companies Act 1985), approved by the Board of Trustees on 31 March 2009 and signed on its behalf by the Chair and Vice Chair. Gotham Erskine, Chartered Accountants and Registered Auditors, audited the full statements and their opinion was unqualified. The annual report and financial statements of the charity comply with the current statutory requirements, the requirements of the charity's governing document and the provisions of the Statement of Recommended Practice 'Accounting and Reporting by Charities' (revised 2005).

The full annual report and financial statements have been submitted to the Charity Commission (and Registrar of Companies). These summarised accounts may not allow for a full understanding of the charity's affairs. For further information, please consult the full financial statements, the auditors report and the Trustees' annual report. Copies of these may be obtained from the Secretary at 97-99 Dean Street, London, United Kingdom W1D 3TE. SciDev.Net Company limited by guarantee no. 4218234 Registered charity no. 1089590

Annual Review 2008

Summary balance sheet at 31 December 2008 2008 £ Fixed assets Tangible assets

2007 £ 83,534


Current assets Debtors



Cash at bank and in hand





Creditors: Amounts falling due within one year



Net current assets



Net assets



Restricted funds


Unrestricted funds: Designated fixed asset funds Designated core funds General funds

83,534 77,167 23,904

102,523 – 181,469

Total funds




Funding SciDev.Net is grateful to the following donors:

Department for International Development, London, United Kingdom

The Directorate General for International Cooperation, The Hague, The Netherlands International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Stockholm, Sweden

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Berne, Switzerland


Annual Review 2008

Our staff, trustees and supporters Staff David Dickson Director of SciDev.Net and editor of the website Naomi Antony Editorial assistant Anne-Caroline Duplat (joined April 2008) Marketing manager

Mun-Keat Looi (left October 2008) News editor

T. V. Padma South Asia coordinator

Katherine Nightingale Assistant news editor

Sanjay M. Johri South Asia consultant

Elinor Smallman Administrative assistant

Regional coordinators and consultants

Jan Evetts Website support technician

Jia Hepeng China coordinator

Carmen Fishwick (joined October 2008) Editorial production assistant

Liu Zhenhua China consultant

Alexandra Ife (joined September 2008) Deputy director of SciDev.Net Aisling Irwin (joined November 2008) News and features editor Andrew Lee Web production manager Karen Levin Operations manager Sian Lewis Commissioning editor


Luisa Massarani Latin America and Caribbean coordinator Lisbeth Fog Latin America and Caribbean consultant Daniela Hirschfeld Latin America and Caribbean consultant Paula Leighton Latin America and Caribbean consultant Zoraida Portillo Latin America and Caribbean consultant

Christina Scott Sub-Saharan African news editor

Topic consultants Priya Shetty Health consultant David J. Grimshaw New technologies consultant Marina Joubert Science communication consultant Athar Osama Science and innovation policy consultant

Trustees Andrew Bennett Chair (Joined 1 January 2008) Former executive director of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Switzerland, president of the UK Tropical Agricultural Association, and member of the Council of the Overseas Development Institute, UK Nalaka Gunawardene Vice chair Director and chief executive officer of TVE Asia Pacific, Sri Lanka Donald Kennedy Editor-in-chief, Science, AAAS, United States Luc Soete Director, UN University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT), The Netherlands Lidia Brito Independent international consultant on governance, education, science and technology issues, and assistant professor, Faculty of Agronomy and Forest Engineering, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique

Annual Review 2008

Ji Fusheng Former director-general of the Department of Fundamental Research and High Technology, The People's Republic of China


Sandy Thomas (resigned December 2008) Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and director of Foresight, Government Office of Science and Innovation, UK Geoffrey Oldham (retired March 2008) Former director, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, UK Hebe Vessuri (retired March 2008) Head of the Department of Science Studies, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC), Venezuela Mohamed Hassan (retired March 2008) Executive director, Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), Italy

Abdallah Daar Senior scientist and co-director of the programme on life sciences, ethics and policy at the McLaughlinRotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network, Canada


Contact us SciDev.Net 97/99 Dean Street London, W1D 3TE United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 20 7292 9940 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7292 9929 Email:

Photo Credits Front cover: Solar panels being delivered for installation Š 2009 Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan, India. The Barefoot College trains Barefoot Solar Engineers to solar-electrify their own communities in remote, rural areas in 20 countries around the globe. Page 02: A medical lab technician conducts tests in a laboratory at the Tuberculosis Research Centre in Chennai, India. Panos Pictures/Atul Loke Page 03: Shutterstock Page 04: Flickr/Fellowship of the Rich Page 05: Shutterstock Page 06/07: Shutterstock Page 10: iStock/eva serrabassa Page 15: In northeast Kenya medical staff measure the mid-upper arm circumference of a boy during a measles vaccination campaign, in order to identify malnutrition. Panos Pictures/Dieter Telemans Page 16: Farmers work in a paddy field in Bangladesh near Dhaka. Panos Pictures/G.M.B. Akash Page 17: In the Republic of Guinea-Bissau a DJ at a local radio station, presenting a programme about HIV and AIDS. Panos Pictures/Giacomo Pirozzi This is printed on paper that is FSC certified from well managed and sustainable forests. Please pass this on or recycle it.

SciDev.Net Annual Review 2008  

SciDev.Net annual review activities and achievements 2008