Poster session: Successes and challenges of a systematic approach to strengthen PhD programmes in Africa

Article English OPEN
Palmer, Tanith ; Bates, Imelda
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1111/tmi.12574
  • Subject: wa_525 | wc_750 | wa_20_5 | wa_18 | wa_395 | wc_20

Introduction:\ud In order to improve health in low- and middle- income countries, it is necessary to improve the local research capacity. Building doctoral training is a well-recognised way to do this so the Malaria Capacity Development Consortium has supported African universities, PhD students and postdocs to strengthen malaria research capacity in Africa.A team of researchers visited the five African MCDC partner universities in 2009 to assess their capacity for PhD programmes. An extensive literature search was undertaken to develop a comprehensive benchmark which included all the policies, processes and facilities needed to run doctoral programmes.\ud \ud Methods:\ud Capacity of the institutions was compared against the benchmark and recommendations provided to the institutions which they used to develop action plans to address the gaps and proactively manage institutional capacity strengthening. Follow up site visits to assess progress and update the recommendations were carried out in 2012. In 2014, in-depth phone/Skype interviews with key stakeholders within each institution were conducted. Information was obtained about progress made since 2012, the processes which had enabled or prevented this progress to be made and the sustainability of any progress, as well as an evaluation of the methods utilised by the research team in guiding capacity strengthening.\ud \ud Results:\ud All the universities demonstrably built capacity in some areas, especially in the development of the PhD Handbook,IT/library access and development of student supervision. Least progress was made in establishing a PhD programme evaluation processes. Stakeholders felt that the evaluation process complemented and enhanced their own efforts in strengthening their doctoral programmes. Progress slowed down over timepossibly because the easiest gaps to address were tackled firstand because of infrequent formal reviews of progress.Conclusions In such complex programmes it is likely that some aspects will work better than others. By learning about what does not work well and why in research capacity strengthening programmes, and by focussing particularly on the areas which are hard to achieve, we can make such programmes more effective. The process for actively managing research capacity strengthening was highly effective and could be transferred to other contexts. However regular review, possibly in collaboration with external agencies, is likely to help to retain momentum.\ud \ud Disclosure:\ud Nothing to disclose.
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