Early Career Researcher development in Africa through writing and mentoring workshops
Funded by the British Academy in association with the Society for Environmental Geochemistry with emphasis on the African region
Coordinated by Dr Michael Watts (firstname.lastname@example.org) – British Geological Survey
Prof Akinade Olatunji, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Prof. Odipo Osano, University of Eldoret, Kenya
Dr Naoise Nunan and Dr Christian Hartmann, International Research Department, France
Workshops will be for early career researchers (ECRs), with emphasis on African ECRs from all disciplines of humanities and social sciences. The inter-disciplinary nature of the workshops will encourage ECRs to develop diverse networks within their own region and internationally, approach research problems accounting for different perspectives in developing/leading funding bids and engaging stakeholders. The interdisciplinary approach will connect environmental sciences to outcomes for human health and social-economic wellbeing as a focal point. Sub-Saharan Africa produces relatively few international research papers, limiting track record to compete and lead bids for international funds. Therefore, workshops will provide mentorship via journal editors in writing skills for peer review papers and will engage willing ECRs in subsequent peer review alongside mentors beyond the project. Writing skills will include differing formats for public science communication (e.g. web skills), short briefs for management/policy makers to encourage building of individual research profiles and track record.
The workshops will ideally be physical, but will likely commence as virtual events in 2021 during the COVID-19 affected period to ensure broad audience participation in 2021. Workshops will be attached to online conferences via SEGH. These workshops will comprise of national clusters to reduce international cross-border travel, whilst allowing for national within border travel, which is less restricted allowing for localised coordination within the three cluster groups of Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal – subject to COVID circumstances. Participants will not be restricted to these countries, the clusters are simply to provide a focal point for African participants. Each of the cluster groups will be connected virtually using a Zoom webinar, allowing for wider participation and greater networking opportunities.
Register interest via the accompanying form – we will accept the first 30 registrants applicable to the workshops in the environmental sciences-health sectors. This will include 1 years free SEGH membership. Please email form to Andrea Mills email@example.com
Resources can be made available for local travel with cluster/hub countries or for internet access.
Workshop 1: mid-July 2021 (VIRTUAL)
The first workshop will be a short meet and greet meeting to introduce the programme throughout 2021, request ECRs to commit to their continued participation, explain the main points requested by the ECRs from the survey and introduce case examples for writing skills. Sessions of two hours across each of two days will avoid Zoom fatigue. (1) An introduction to the process of writing for differing formats, such as peer review publications, web pages, briefing notes and funding proposals will be explained. ECRs will be given an exercise to write a brief summary of their research in advance which participants will be asked to compare with their counterparts, examine and critique. This will provide an indication of the baseline of writing skills across the group. (2) ECRs will be introduced to the procedure for submitting peer review papers using an editorial system from the SEGH journal, Environmental Geochemistry and Health (EGAH), for which the applicants are associate editors. Guidance will be provided by the lead editor of EGAH, Ming Wong for useful tips and common mistakes in addition to Mohamed Chehimi as Editor in Chief of the Chemistry Africa journal – both journals are from the Springer Nature stable.(3) Akinade Olatunji (Nigeria), Odipo Osano (Nigeria) and Naoise Nunan (France-Senegal) will provide their account of the challenges in writing peer review publications from an African setting and recommendations for African ECRs.(4) Christian Hartman (France) emphasise the importance of quality assurance for the publication of measured values to ensure the integrity and reliability of research.ECRs will be asked to draft a plan for a manuscript for a writing session in July to encourage a collaborative approach to writing, with support from the co-applicants and wider mentorship group from within SEGH.
Workshop 2 September 2021 (PHYSICAL-hybrid virtual)
The postponed SEGH annual conference planned for 2021 in Kenya and moved to 2022 will be replaced by an online conference similar to the SEGH Live series (see www.segh.net ) in November, with a training session of 1-2 days attached to the end of the conference. ECRs will connect with Kenya virtually from clusters in other parts of Africa (Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia) where mentors will also be present to coordinate the ECRs in their groups for the following activities: (1) ECRs will be introduced to the process of reviewing articles and will be given anonymised examples to review and discuss that have been passed through the EGAH editorial system and be invited to offer decisions and explanations for group discussion. To be led by cluster leads in Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia and Kenya, supported by UK/French partners (2-3 hours).(2) ECRs and mentors will work with individuals to plan-out the structure of a manuscript relating to their own work and will share their experience with their counterparts. The anticipated multidisciplinary nature of ECRs from environmental and social sciences will provide cross fertilisation of disciplines and approaches to written communication of research in the respective fields. The ECRs will be incentivised with a submission to a special issue dedicated to this training programme in the journal EGAH, for anticipated submission by February 2022 – minimum of 10 successful manuscripts required (3 hours).(3) ECRs will be made aware of potential funding opportunities for academic and knowledge exchange and provided with examples to summarise their aim and objectives to the funding call (1-2 hours).
Workshop 3 January 2022 (VIRTUAL)
Two hour sessions in each of two days.ECRs will be asked to write brief web articles to communicate their work activities to effectively improve their profile to potential funders and asked to critique each others work on the clarity of messaging and level of interest generated. Articles will have the opportunity to be posted on the SEGH website.ECRs will be encouraged to share best practice to improve their profile via social media e.g. Researchgate etc.ECRs will have an opportunity to discuss the challenges they have faced through the manuscript challenge set in Workshop 2.