Livingstone, Zambia, 14 – 17, August, 2023 – In an effort to fortify research excellence, promote ethical practices, and enhance grant management capabilities, a four-day Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop is currently underway in Livingstone, Zambia. The workshop, organized under the Research Management Project of the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI), has convened stakeholders from 14 out of the 17 participating countries of the initiative. It aims to equip participants with the essential skills and knowledge in research excellence, ethics, and grant practices, fostering a robust research ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative is a culmination of the SGCI Research Management Project’s success, designed to further amplify its impact and sustain positive changes.
Organised by the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the African Academy of Science (AAS) and graciously hosted by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) of Zambia, the workshop’s comprehensive agenda encompasses three key themes – Research Ethics, Research Excellence (RQ+ for Researchers) and the Good Financial Grant Practices (GFGP). The sessions on Research Excellence (RQ+ for Researchers) are geared towards equipping participants to facilitate the RQ+ for Researchers course, which focuses on preparing researchers to adhere to the RQ+ guidelines in crafting robust research proposals and grant applications. The lead facilitator for this theme – Dr. Isabel Tarling, the managing director of Limina, is also practically engaging participants and broadening their knowledge and understanding of the Research Quality Plus (RQ+) framework, an innovative tool designed to enhance research quality and evaluation.
Under the research ethics theme, participating Science Granting Councils (SGCs) will be empowered to effectively implement the research ethics frameworks, address barriers and strengthen enablers, while gaining insights into monitoring and evaluating research ethics practices. This theme will be facilitated by Dr. Rakeshnie Ramoutar-Prieschl.
Given the importance of financial governance and management of grant funding to the SGCs, the workshop will also provide insights into the Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) Standard. SGCs will engage in discussions surrounding financial management, human resources, procurement, and governance, with an aim to improve their grants management practices. The GFGP sessions are facilitated by the African Academy of Sciences.
The workshop’s diverse and interactive delivery formats, featuring – insightful presentations, brainstorming sessions, collaborative problem-solving and reflective sessions, as well as role play scenarios are facilitating optimal hands-on learning experiences for all participants.
The anticipated outcomes of the workshop include enhanced understanding and adoption of the RQ+ framework, research ethics principles, and GFGP standards among participating SGCs. In a concerted effort to sustain the momentum beyond the workshop, post-workshop initiatives have been outlined. These include policy and framework improvement support, training the research community, follow-up assessments, collaborative peer learning platforms, and dissemination of best practices among the councils.
The Association of African Universities’ team, leading the organisation of the Workshop, is led by the Director of ICT, Communications and Knowledge Management – Nodumo Dhlamini and the Research Management Project Officer, Ruth Issambo Nyarko.
As the workshop unfolds in Livingstone, Zambia, participants are poised to gain a deeper understanding of research excellence, ethics, and grant practices. The event represents a significant milestone in fostering a thriving research landscape across sub-Saharan Africa, reinforcing the region’s commitment to knowledge creation, innovation, and ethical research conduct.