Edinburgh University helps boost writing and publication skills of African researchers

Three workshops on ‘A Guide to Successful & Responsible Publishing’ were held in Zimbabwe during July 2015.

The series of workshops was led by three academics from the Universities of Edinburgh and Zimbabwe, and Africa University, and aimed to inform researchers about Successful and Responsible Publishing.  The workshops, supported by PLoS journals and University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Immunity and Infection Research, were a huge success, drawing over 160 participants; 68 participants attended the workshop at Africa University, 38 at the event held in the Bronte Hotel, Harare, and 60 came to the University of Zimbabwe.

L to R:  The three academics who led the workshops, Takafira Mduluza (Africa University), Francisca Mutapi (University of Edinburgh) and Nicholas Midzi (University of Zimbabwe); Dr Chanda, wife of the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Zambia proudly receiving her certificate as the oldest participant at the workshops - the 72 year old is still active in anti-malaria research; attendees at the workshop held in the University of Zimbabwe.

Improving skills and raising awareness

The overall goal of these workshops was to boost the publication and dissemination skills and profiles of postgraduate students, university faculty, health district managers, laboratory scientists and researchers working on neglected topical diseases.  They also were intended to augment institutional visibility, regionally, nationally and globally. 

Each workshops featured the same presentations on research ethics, responsible publishing, writing an abstract for conferences and manuscripts, writing research reports, manuscripts and grants applications as well as revising a manuscript and responding to reviewer comments for both manuscripts and grants.

High level recognition

All the workshops received high-level recognition.  At Africa Univeristy, the workshop was officially opened by the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Mrs. Violet Chikanya.  The workshop at the University of Zimbabwe was part of the ‘Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases – Control to Elimination’ Workshop.  It was officially opened by both the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa, in a speech read on his behalf by the Director of the Health Services Board, Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa, and also by the University Vice Chancellor, Professor LM Nyagura, in a speech read by the Pro Vice Chancellor, Business Development, Dr T Munyanyiwa.

Wide range of particiapants

The worskhops were attended by post-graduate students from diverse fields, including Medical Laboratory Science, Masters of Public Health, Humanities and Social Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Biological Sciences, Health Services Management,  and post-basic Nursing programmes.  An array of interested university staff from the respective disciplines also attended, including Technical staff, Faculty and Managers. There was also a journalist amongst the attendants, which provided an important opportunity to discuss the different writing styles between journalists and scientists.  At least three quarters of the participants had research reports that they were hoping to publish.

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