Volume 10 Issue 2 (2021)

Laboratory Technology: A “Neglected” but Unique Interdisciplinary Tool helping to Enhance Scientific Research and Development in Academic and Research Institutions in Africa

pp. 99-115  |  Published Online: December 2021  |  DOI: 10.22521/unibulletin.2021.102.1

Albert Koomson, Jonathan Ntow, Prosper Dordunu, Emmanuel Birikorang, Douglas Tetteh Ayitey


Background/purpose – Laboratory Technology has helped to enhance teaching, as well as scientific research and development worldwide. This review aims to reveal why there is “neglect” and a “disconnect” between laboratory technologists/technicians in academic and research institutions with their respective management and higher authorities regarding their roles and responsibilities, and puts forward suggestions to some of the challenges faced.

Materials/methods – The review was conducted by briefly adopting both Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) framework and the PRISMA item checklist with some modifications. Information was obtained from the Web of Science Core Collection (WoSCC), JSTOR, and the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) bibliographic databases, as well as via Google Scholar and the Google search engine.

Results – The review highlights that the unique interdisciplinary nature of laboratory technologists/technicians’ roles should be afforded greater attention according to their diverse working environments. The challenges currently faced could be addressed through the formation of national regulatory and representative bodies for efficient governance in this area, to enhance both quality and performance, to create and implement a governance framework and associated policies, to bolster capacity building and training, consolidate self-administration and enhanced awareness of the role, quality assurance, accreditation, and regulations as well as to conduct high quality research related to laboratory operations.

Conclusion – This review suggests that a salient multifaceted approach could help foster a harmonic nexus among university laboratory technologists/technicians in scientific research and development. Finally, the paper reveals that academic and research institutions both in Africa and worldwide could meet today’s essential needs and champion sustainable development if laboratory staff were afforded appropriate and commensurable recognition.

Keywords: Academic, Africa, interdisciplinary, laboratory technology, scientific research.


Abogsesa, A. S., & Kaushik, G. (2018). Impact of Training and Development on Employee Performance. International Journal of Civic Engagement and Social Change, 4(3), 53-68. https://doi.org/10.4018/ijcesc.2017070104

Accra Technical University. (n.d.). Science Laboratory Technology Department. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://atu.edu.gh/faculty-of-applied-science/science-laboratory-technology-department/

Aqidawati, E. F., Sutopo, W., & Zakaria, R. (2019). Model to measure the readiness of university testing laboratories to fulfill ISO/IEC 17025 requirements (a case study). Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, 5(1), Article 2. https://doi.org/10.3390/joitmc5010002

Arksey, H., & Malley, L. O. (2005). scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19-32. https://doi.org/10.1080/1364557032000119616

Au-Yong, C. P., Ali, A. S., & Ahmad, F. (2014). Optimising maintenance cost performance with skilled technicians. Structural Survey, 32(3), 238-245. https://doi.org/10.1108/SS-01-2014-0005

Bornstein-Forst, S. M. (2017). Establishing Good Laboratory Practice at Small Colleges and Universities. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1222

Brazil, R. (2018, November 27). The unsung heroes of the lab. Chemistry World. https://www.chemistryworld.com/careers/the-unsung-heroes-of-the-lab/3009700.article

Carayol, N., & Matt, M. (2004). Does research organization influence academic production? Laboratory level evidence from a large European university. Research Policy, 33(8), 1081-1102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2004.03.004

Delgado Community College. (n.d.). Science Laboratory Technology (SLT). Retrieved January 21, 2021, from http://dcc.edu/academics/science-math/science/science-laboratory-technology/default.aspx

Dicks, L. (2006). Setting a new benchmark. New Scientist, 192(2577), 60-61. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0262-4079(06)60989-5

Dongru, F., Yanming, H., Kangbiao, Q., Bing, L. W. H., & Jinfa., W. (2014). Some thinking on strengthening team construction of laboratory technician in colleges and universities. Experimental Technology and Management, 31(9), 232-234. https://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-SYJL201409064.htm

Educartis. (2021). Science Laboratory Technology Bachelor - University of Jos. Retrieved February 25, 2021, from https://www.educartis.com.ng/courses/science-laboratory-technology-university-of-jos

El-Gilany, A. H., El-shaer, S., Khashaba, E., El-dakroory, S. A., & Omar, N. (2017). Knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) of ‘teaching laboratory’ technicians towards laboratory safety and waste management: a pilot interventional study. Journal of Hospital Infection, 96(2), 192-194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2017.02.007

Full, R. J., Dudley, R., Koehl, M. A. R., Libby, T., & Schwab, C. (2015). Interdisciplinary laboratory course facilitating knowledge integration, mutualistic teaming, and original discovery. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 55(5), 912-925. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icv095

Grochau, I. H., Ferreira, C. A., Zoppas Ferreira, J., & Schwengber ten Caten, C. (2010). Implementation of a quality management system in university test laboratories : a brief review and new proposals. Accreditation and Quality Assurance, 15, 681-689. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00769-010-0713-6

Hofstein, A., & Lunetta, V. N. (2004). The Laboratory in Science Education: Foundations for the Twenty-First Century. Science Education, 88(1), 28-54. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.10106

Homolka, S., Zallet, J., Albert, H., Witt, A. K., & Kranzer, K. (2019). Introduction of quality management in a National Reference Laboratory in Germany. PLoS ONE, 14(10), Article e0222925. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222925

Kapin, J. M. (1999). Beyond chemical safety— an integrated approach to laboratory safety management. Chemical Health and Safety, 6(4), 20-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1074-9098(99)00002-7

Karim, M. R., Huda, K. N., & Khan, R. S. (2012). Significance of Training and Post Training Evaluation for Employee Effectiveness: An Empirical Study on Sainsbury’s Supermarket Ltd, UK. International Journal of Business and Management, 7(18). https://doi.org/10.5539/ijbm.v7n18p141

Kasvosve, I., Ledikwe, J. H., Phumaphi, O., Mpofu, M., Nyangah, R., Motswaledi, M. S., Martin, R., & Semo, B.-w. (2014). Continuing professional development training needs of medical laboratory personnel in Botswana. Human Resources for Health, 12, Article 46. https://doi.org/10.1186/1478-4491-12-46

Koomson, A., Gaisie, E. K., Ayitey, D. T., & Antiaye, N. A. (2019). Forensic Science : A unique interdisciplinary tool helping to combat crimes in Africa , a review. Forensic Science Society in Ghana Newsletter, 2(1), 1-7. https://fssgh.org/2019/12/27/forensic-science-a-unique-interdisciplinary-tool-helping-to-combat-crimes-in-africa-a-review/

Kubrushko, P. F., & Nazarova, L. I. (2013). Professional development of technical university lecturers in field of innovation teaching. In 16th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (pp. 467-469). IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/ICL.2013.6644627

Kumasi Technical University. (n.d.). HND Science and Industrial Laboratory Technology. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from http://www.kpoly.edu.gh/academics/programmes/hnd-science-and-industrial-laboratory-technology

Lewis, P. A., & Gospel, H. (2015). Technicians under the microscope: the training and skills of university laboratory and engineering workshop technicians. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 67(4), 421-441. https://doi.org/10.1080/13636820.2015.1076502

Lüth, P., Frost, K., Kurth, L., Malow, M., Michael-Schulz, H., Schmidt, M., Schulte, P., Uhlig,S., & Zakel, S. (2019). CEQAT-DGHS interlaboratory test programme for chemical safety - Need of test methods validation. Chemical Engineering Transactions, 77. https://doi.org/10.3303/CET1977001

Morris, A., & Macey, D. (2004). Laboratory accreditation: Proof of performance for environmental laboratories - 2001 Study. Accreditation and Quality Assurance, 9, 52-54. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00769-003-0736-3

Morus, I. R. (2016). Invisible Technicians, Instrument-makers and Artisans. In B. Lightman (Ed.), A Companion to the History of Science (pp. 97-110). Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118620762.ch7

Neuvoo. (2021). What does a Laboratory Technician do? Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://neuvoo.com/neuvooPedia/en/lab-tech/

Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology. (n.d.). Who Are We? Retrieved January 15, 2021, from https://nislt.gov.ng/viewcontent3.php?tab=3

Outaki, M., Gmouh, S., Bazi, F., & Kerak, E. (2019). Quality management in research: management process of the laboratories of Moroccan faculties of sciences and techniques. Accreditation and Quality Assurance, 24(5), 395-404. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00769-019-01396-6

Page, M. J., Mckenzie, J. E., Bossuyt, P. M., Boutron, I., Hoffmann, T. C., Mulrow, C. D., Shamseer, L., Tetzlaff, J. M., Akl, E. A., Brennan, S. E., Chou, R., Glanville, J., Grimshaw, J. M., Hróbjartsson, A., Lalu, M. M., Li, T., Loder, E. W., Mayo-Wilson, E., McDonald, S.,…Moher, D. (2020). The PRISMA 2020 statement: an updated guideline for reporting systematic reviews. BMJ, 2021(372), Article 71. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n71

Rong, Z. (2018). Construction and Management of University Laboratories in the Context of the Construction of High-level University. Research and Exploration in Laboratory, 37(3), 278-282. https://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-SYSY201803072.htm

Schneidman, M., Dacombe, R. J., & Carter, J. (2014). Laboratory professionals in Africa: The backbone of quality diagnostics. World Bank Group on Health, Nutrition, and Population. Retrieved from http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/419941468010480283/pdf/927280WP0Labor00Box385377B00PUBLIC0.pdf

Schubert, C. (2018). At the front lines of science. Nature, 560(7719), 517-519. http://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05991-4

Serdyukov, P. (2017). Innovation in Education: What Works, What Doesn’t, and What to Do about It? Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, 10(1), 4-33. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1108/JRIT-10-2016-0007

Solis-Rouzant, P. (2015). Experience of Implementing ISO 15189 Accreditation at a University Laboratory. EJIFCC, 26(4), 270-273. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975363/

Taylor, J. H., Jackson, C. M., Miller, M., & Rushneck, D. R. (2008). Laboratory management in methods development. Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A : Environmental Science and Engineering, 15(5), 393-411. https://doi.org/10.1080/10934528009374940

Tian, L., Jinrong, X., Ling, Y., Zhongyun, W., & Tao, Z. (2015). How experimental technicians playing more positive role in experimental teaching. Experimental Technology and Management, 6, 143-145. http://caod.oriprobe.com/articles/45557337/How_experimental_technicians_playing_more_positive.htm

Turpin, T., Woolley, R., & Marceau, J. (2010). Scientists across the boundaries: National and global dimensions of scientific and technical human capital (STHC) and policy implications for Australia. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 19(1), 65-86. https://doi.org/10.1177/011719681001900104

United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime. (2015). UNODC and the Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/documents/SDGs/UNODC-SDG_brochure_LORES.pdf

University of Cape Coast. (n.d.). Laboratory Technology. Retrieved January 15, 2021, from https://labtech.ucc.edu.gh/programmes/bachelor-science-laboratory-technology

Wadhwa, V., Rai, S., Thukral, T., & Chopra, M. (2012). Laboratory quality management system: Road to accreditation and beyond. Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, 30(2), 131-140. https://doi.org/10.4103/0255-0857.96647

Wen, W., Gu, P., Qiu, K., & Guo, X. (2020). The Management and Development of Laboratory Technicians in the Construction of High-level Universities. In S. Luo, H. Xue, & J. Liu (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2020 International Conference on Social Science, Economics and Education Research (SSEER 2020) (pp. 166-168). Atlantis Press. https://doi.org/10.2991/assehr.k.200801.041

Whittle, C., & Malkin, R. (2014). Capacity building for medical equipment technicians improves healthcare. Journal of Clinical Engineering, 39(3), 142-147. https://doi.org/10.1097/JCE.0000000000000047

Wilson, L. (2012). Intangible Histories and the Invisible Technician. University Museums and Collections Journal, 2012(5), 17-22. https://edoc.hu-berlin.de/bitstream/handle/18452/9369/wilson.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

World Health Organization. (2011). Laboratory Quality Management System : Handbook. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241548274

Yang, B. (2021). Research on the Laboratory Management Mode Based on the Optimal Allocation of Resources. Open Access Library Journal, 8, Article e7119. https://doi.org/10.4236/oalib.1107119

Yan-wen, L. (2015). Team Building of Laboratory Technician under the Background of the Development of College Teachers’ Professional Abilities. Journal of Jilin Institute of Chemical Technology, 32(2), 44-47.

Zengele, A. G., & Alemayehu, B. (2016). The Status of Secondary School Science Laboratory Activities for Quality Education in Case of Wolaita Zone, Southern Ethiopia. Journal of Education and Practice, 7(31), 1-11. https://iiste.org/Journals/index.php/JEP/article/view/34083




► New issue coming soon! (Volume 11 Issue 1, 2022)

Call for Papers

UNIBULLETIN is calling for submissions. Authors are invited to submit papers from the all fields of the Education (General) and Social Sciences (General) in the international context. All submissions should be presented only in English.