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Challenges facing young African scientists in their research careers: A qualitative exploratory study

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  • Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences

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Background Africa accounts for 14% of world’s population, and the economies of most African countries are considered to be growing, but this is not reflected in the amount of research published by Africans. This study aimed at identifying the challenges that young African scientists face in their career development. Methods This was a qualitative exploratory study involving young researchers who attended the Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development (TReND) in Africa scientific writing and communication workshop, which was held in Malawi in September 2015. A semi-structured questionnaire was sent to all workshop participants who consented to taking part in the survey. In total, 28 questionnaires were sent via email and 15 were returned, representing a response rate of 53.6%. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results Young Africans develop their research interests various ways. The most common career-promoting factors identified by the study participants included formal classroom learning, aspirations to attain academic qualifications, work satisfaction, and the desire to fulfill parents’ dreams. Challenges cited by survey respondents included a lack of mentorship, funds, and research and writing skills. Lack of interest in research by policymakers, lack of motivation by peers, and heavy workload (leaving little time for research) were also reported as challenges. Respondents suggested that grants specifically targeting young scientists would be beneficial. Participants also urged for the establishment of mentorship programmes, increasing motivation for research, and more frequent training opportunities. Conclusions There is need for improved funding for institutional and research network strengthening in Africa, with particular attention given to expanding opportunities for young researchers.
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MMJ VOL 29 (1): March 2017
Challenges facing young African scientists 1Malawi Medical Journal 29 (1): March 2017
http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mmj.v29i1.1
Save Kumwenda1,2, El Hadji A. Niang3, Pauline W. Orondo4, Pote William5, Lateefah Oyinlola6,
Gedeon N. Bongo7,8, Bernadette Chiwona9
1. College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi
2. The Polytechnic, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi
3. Laboratoire d’Écologie Vectorielle et Parasitaire (LEVP), Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Sénégal
4. Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Nairobi, Kenya
5. Department of Preclinical Veterinary Studies, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
6. Department of Food Science and Technology, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
7. Department of Biology, University of Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
8. Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
9. Chancellor College, University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi
Correspondence: Mr Save Kumwenda (skumwenda@poly.ac.mw)
Abstract
Background
Africa accounts for 14% of world’s population, and the economies of most African countries are considered to be growing, but this is not reected in the
amount of research published by Africans. This study aimed at identifying the challenges that young African scientists face in their career development.
Methods
This was a qualitative exploratory study involving young researchers who attended the Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development
(TReND) in Africa scientic writing and communication workshop, which was held in Malawi in September 2015. A semi-structured questionnaire
was sent to all workshop participants who consented to taking part in the survey. In total, 28 questionnaires were sent via email and 15 were returned,
representing a response rate of 53.6%. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results
Young Africans develop their research interests various ways. The most common career-promoting factors identied by the study participants included
formal classroom learning, aspirations to attain academic qualications, work satisfaction, and the desire to fulll parents’ dreams. Challenges cited by
survey respondents included a lack of mentorship, funds, and research and writing skills. Lack of interest in research by policymakers, lack of motivation
by peers, and heavy workload (leaving little time for research) were also reported as challenges. Respondents suggested that grants specically targeting
young scientists would be benecial. Participants also urged for the establishment of mentorship programmes, increasing motivation for research, and
more frequent training opportunities.
Conclusions
There is need for improved funding for institutional and research network strengthening in Africa, with particular attention given to expanding
opportunities for young researchers.
Introduction
Research is important in the development and productivity
growth of any nation.1,2 Unfortunately, in Africa there
continues to be little investment in research. For example,
in 2011, when worldwide expenditure on research was
1.77% of the total global gross domestic product, Kenya
spent 0.1% of its GDP3 and South Africa spent 0.76% of
its GDP4 on research. Declining investment in research
has been cited as a reason for deteriorating research quality
on the continent.5 In medicine, only 10% of research is
performed in developing countries and only 2% of the 3000
journals from the developing world are listed in Medline.5
Recently, it was found that most Ebola research has been
conducted in America.6 The Sustainable Development Goals
promote research in all elds and for full research capacity
in all countries by 2030.7 This would improve performance
in controlling emerging and re-emerging diseases that are
greatly hampering progress towards targets in developing
countries and support the information needs of decision
makers at all levels.8
The future of research in Africa rests in the hands of its
young scientists, but there is little done to support them.9
The research prole of Africans is relatively new, and the
process of building condence and competence among
young African researchers, in order for them to compete
internationally, is at an early stage. Relevant research that
informs policymaking is of insufcient quantity and quality
in Africa, and the continent’s political processes are not
able to adequately evaluate and correct or compensate for
existing shortfalls. Governments need researchers who
invest their time in conducting thorough research using data
on important and timely issues so that political decisions are
informed by quality empirical evidence. This study aimed
at nding out the challenges that young scientists face in
their efforts towards contributing to development of the
continent through their scientic work.
Methods
This was a qualitative exploratory study that involved young
researchers who attended the Teaching and Research in
Natural Sciences for Development (TReND) in Africa
scientic writing and communication workshop in September
2015, held at Chancellor College, in Zomba, Malawi. A
list of attendees and contact details was sourced from the
workshop organisers. A semi-structured questionnaire was
emailed to all workshop participants who accepted an initial
invitation to take part in the study. There were 15 respondents
from 28 questionnaires sent, representing a response rate of
53.6%. Respondents were from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana,
Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Benin, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and
the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All 15 participants
were also involved in drafting or reviewing the manuscript.
Questionnaire items mainly focused on personal attributes,
how research interests developed, challenges faced, and any
suggestions to improve research among young researchers
in Africa. Completed questionnaires were received via email
and analysed using thematic analysis with the help of NVivo
10 software.
Original Research
Challenges facing young African scientists in their
research careers: A qualitative exploratory study
MMJ VOL 29 (1): March 2017
Malawi Medical Journal 29 (1): March 2017
http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mmj.v29i1.1
Challenges facing young African scientists 2
by her father. Some developed research interests through
interactions with relatives who earn their living through
research, while others developed their interests through the
nature of their jobs, especially those working in universities.
Teaching jobs in universities demand that one conducts
research and publish in order to be promoted. This forces
people to engage in research, and they subsequently continue
this engagement. Some of the participants’ responses on
how interests in research were developed were as follows:
“My interest in research started during a research module during
my undergraduate degree and currently through mentorship
from a senior professional.” (Female respondent, Kenya)
“My career as a research associate and a lecturer at a university
ignited my interest in research. I believe that if I want to develop
my career as an academic, I need to engage in research.” (Male
respondent, Senegal)
“I wanted to have a PhD so that I can be employable, and
this created an interest in research. Then when I developed my
proposal I started enjoying research on development of new
and better drugs for mental illness.” (Male respondent,
Zimbabwe)
“I developed an interest in research because of my career as
an academician. The interest developed because I wanted to
contribute towards development of my country through writing ,
and this interest increased after being involved in coaching
undergraduate students in research and also after noting that
the requirement for promotion puts more emphasis in research
at my institution.” (Male respondent, Malawi)
“My interest in research developed since I was in high school.
My father [told] me stories of great researchers like Isaac
Newton from time to time, at a point the inquisitiveness to
learn more about these scientists and tell my friends about them
were exciting. This act generated much interest inside of me to
the extent of following their path in order to become a great
researcher in the future.” (Female Respondent, Nigeria)
It has been shown that parents also play a big role in shaping
the careers of their children. The above quote from Nigeria
is evident that children value and desire to accomplish what
parents see as important.
Challenges faced during early research career
Participants outlined different challenges they faced during
their early careers. The rst challenge was related to the
sustainability of research ambitions. Respondents indicated
that after developing the interest to start a career in research,
they needed a lot of support to move forward, even just
words of encouragement from peers. The most common
support needed was mentorship from senior researchers.
They indicated that most potential mentors are too busy
with their work and have little time for junior researchers. A
female researcher from Malawi said:
“When I rst wanted to publish, I needed someone to assist
me in turning my dissertation report into a publication. I
approached two professors, but they kept postponing the meeting
dates until I gave up.”
Others said they needed support in terms of laboratory
equipment and funding to allow for eldwork and sample
collection. Failure to acquire grants was a barrier, as most
of the grants were too competitive for young researchers,
especially given a lack of motivation from supervisors. Some
quotations below indicate these and related sentiments:
“There is need for mentorship programmes and placement
opportunities where young African researchers can be given
opportunity to showcase their skills.” (Female respondent,
Zambia)
Results
The study participants included 8 female and 7 male scientists,
aged between 25 and 41 years. Five of the respondents had at
least 1 publication in a peer-reviewed journal. All participants
were either postgraduate students or holders of a bachelor’s
degree and working in a research institute (Table 1).
Development of research interests
Research interests in young people develop through various
ways. Since research is a principal tool for graduate education,
learning in a classroom at college followed by interactions
with researchers were reported as the main initiators of
research interests among the participants. A respondent
from Kenya said as she was learning, she started thinking
about who wrote the books she was reading. This made her
think of how people generate new knowledge and inspired
her interest in research. Others from Nigeria, Kenya,
and Malawi also indicated that they always admired the
intelligence of scientists. Classroom discussions about the
scientic methods through which knowledge is generated
stimulated their interest as learners. As learners, they always
wanted to also be able to generate new knowledge and earn
recognition or fame, like the scientists who discovered the
theories being used in class. For example, in this study, a
young woman from Nigeria, aged between 20 and 29 years,
developed interest in research when she was in high school,
through stories of great scientists, like Isaac Newton, told
Table 1: Respondent characteristics
Characteristic
Category
Frequency (%)
(N = 15)
Age
25-29
4 (26.7)
30-39
10 (66.6)
40 +
1 (6.7)
Sex
Male
7 (46.7)
Female
8 (53.3)
Country
Benin
2 (13.3)
Democratic Republic
of the Congo
1 (6.7)
Kenya
3 (20.0)
Ghana
1 (6.7)
Malawi
2 (13.3)
Nigeria
3 (20.0)
Zimbabwe
1 (6.7)
Tanzania
1 (6.7)
Senegal
1 (6.7)
Number of
publications
0
10 (66.7)
1
2 (13.3)
2
1 (6.7)
3
2 (13.3)
Highest
education
Bachelor’s degree
3 (20.0)
Master’s degree
3 (20.0)
Master’s students
6 (40.0)
PhD students
3 (20.0)
Table 1: Respondent characteristics
MMJ VOL 29 (1): March 2017
Challenges facing young African scientists 3Malawi Medical Journal 29 (1): March 2017
http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mmj.v29i1.1
“In order to realise our potential, there is need for grants that
target upcoming scientists. There should also be trainings in
proposal writing for research grants. Also, there is need for
senior researchers to start engaging young scientists at every
stage and not only when they want to generate data.” (Male
respondent, Senegal)
“In order for my interest to be supported I need some research
grants. These can be offered by my university and not from
outside the country because it will support my original ideas.”
(Male respondent, Malawi)
Others indicated that no one else appeared to be interested
whenever they talked about doing research and generating
publications. They indicated that most young people focus
on income during the rst years of their careers, and that
research is initially not nancially rewarding. A common
response was that governments and policymakers are not
interested in research unless the results can directly inuence
policy, and this discourages most young people to consider
research as a career option. Other respondents highlighted
challenges related to publication as a major challenge. They
indicated that one can conduct high-quality research but lack
the skills to convert the work into a publishable manuscript.
Other select responses describing early-career challenges for
young researchers included the following:
“The main challenges here are lack of funds to young
researchers. In terms of publishing, the main challenge is to
know what to include in the paper from the research work.”
(Female respondent, Kenya)
“The main challenge I face as a young researcher is that most
research grants require a lot of experience, and I am not
considered even if I apply. They favour senior researchers. In
academia, young people are not given the chance to lead.” (Male
respondent, Senegal)
“I also have problems in writing in English than in French. This
puts me at a disadvantage when I want to publish in English
journals. Also, the fees for language experts to proofread your
manuscripts are very high.” (Male respondent, Senegal)
“Our biggest challenge is lack of state-of-the-art laboratories
where we can conduct high quality research. Also, there is
lack of funding to support new innovative ideas; funders have
their own ideas so we just follow them. The other challenge is
that there is too much workload as an academician and this
leaves us with little time for research.” (Male respondent,
Zimbabwe)
“Most senior researchers in Africa are too busy and do not have
time to mentor the young ones. Most of them do not contribute
enough if selected to be co-authors. This does not help the young
scientists who aspire to publish in high impact journals.” (Male
respondent, Zimbabwe)
“I feel most young people don’t know if they are required to do
research. They believe that after graduation with a rst degree,
the next thing is to nd a job and very few think about a
career in research. Research is left to older people and those from
developed countries who have secured funding for projects. Young
ones do research just as an academic requirement.” (Female
respondent, Malawi)
“The most important challenge is that most people in my country
are not interested in research. Most of the time, work demand
does not give room for research. They just admire it but do not
have time for it. This makes them less supportive to new ideas.”
(Male respondent, Benin)
“In my country less funding , poor infrastructure such as
laboratories and computers, and lack of expertise in preparing
manuscripts for publication are major setbacks for researchers.
As a young researcher in my country, it is an uphill task to
make transition from being a graduate student to being a
faculty member. The availability of power supply to operate
the equipment gives the research a snail speed most of the
time, and nding an alternative source of power increases the
cost of research. Above all, communicating research ndings
outside the academic community is not appreciated because the
relationship between the government, the private establishment,
and the research institution, as well as universities, is very weak.
This makes applied researchers change to basic researchers and
sometimes decrease the morale of the researcher.” (Female
respondent, Nigeria)
Suggested strategies to mitigate the challenges faced
Different suggestions were made by respondents on how
to improve research among young scientists. Most of the
suggestions related to the challenges that have been identied
above. Below are some of the common responses:
“To maximise the potential that young African scientist have,
there is need for constant mentorship and training. Once one
paper is published, I hope I will have condence to do more
research and publish more.” (Female respondent, Kenya)
“Experienced researchers should mentor young scientists to be
like them rather than just using them to generate their data. In
addition, issues of scientic writing [and] publishing should
be integrated in the formal undergraduate and postgraduate
programmes.” (Male respondent, Senegal)
“Young researchers need to be supported with suitable equipment
and mentorship to develop their ideas.” (Male respondent,
Zimbabwe)
“There is need to have open grants targeting the young researchers
and more opportunities for PhDs at younger ages. Also, there is
need for capacity building courses, and these could be integrated
in the grant funding.” (Male respondent, Zimbabwe)
“We need to nd better means of making policymakers
understand the link between research and development. They
should also learn on how to support scientists, especially the
young ones.” (Female respondent, Malawi)
Discussion
It has been found that most respondents developed their
research ambitions through the following means: classroom
learning, ambitions to further academic qualications,
interaction with parents and other people involved in
research, and through their jobs. The explanations of
theories in classroom lessons and learning about those
who developed some of these theories inspire students
to start thinking of developing their own theories, and
this is one foundation for research ambition. While some
scientists develop their research interests early in life, others
develop research interests during the process of acquiring
postgraduate qualications, such as master’s or doctoral
degrees. Furthermore, interactions with work colleagues and
work experience are other sources of research ambitions.
This means there are potential researchers all over the
African continent, but they need to be nurtured so that
they can contribute and compete internationally. Research
capacity building courses, such as TReND in Africa’s
Science Writing and Communication School, are urgently
needed. Such courses initiate long-term collaboration among
the participants as well as the facilitators. Networking
at these workshops and seminars can facilitate equitable
research collaborations and personal relationships between
individuals that can lead to formal partnerships sooner or
later. The provision of courses in research design, statistical
MMJ VOL 29 (1): March 2017
Malawi Medical Journal 29 (1): March 2017
http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mmj.v29i1.1
Challenges facing young African scientists 4
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no conicts of interest.
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interpretation, and scientic writing can develop skills that are
often inadequately developed in researchers. Furthermore,
research capacity in certain African countries, such as South
Africa, is more developed than other African countries; local
capacity can be strengthened through regional partnerships.
From the responses gathered in this study, it is clear that there
is need for African governments to start prioritising research
funding and considering the needs of young researchers. Only
if we invest in young researchers will Africa be able to come
up with new innovations that are critical for its development.
Hence investing in both young and senior researchers is very
important if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development
Goals by 2030. As identied by one respondent that most
PhDs are late-career achievements in Africa, it is time that
governments increase funding towards postgraduate studies.
This will enable people to start their research careers earlier
in life. This will lead to increased basic research output,
which has been linked to economic growth.10
Africa accounts for 14 % of the world’s population and has
some of the fastest growing economies in the world.11 With
a growth rate expected to average 7% annually over the next
20 years, Africa is poised to become a leading source of
innovation in a variety of industries.11 On this note, African
researchers should be implored to remain focused, because
they have immense potential to help address the challenges
experienced in Africa. Researchers should also endeavour
to work outside of their comfort zones in the pursuit of
knowledge, make efforts for long-term collaboration with
the developed world, and apply new knowledge to our
continent through applied research. Continued dialogue
between stakeholders, such as local research institutions and
governments, will translate local research into action. Regular
communication with regional and international policymakers
is needed to understand global issues and priorities.
Study limitations
The small sample size and low response rate mean that the
results are not representative of all young researchers in
Africa, but the points raised form a good basis upon which
to discuss and begin to address the challenges facing young
scientists in Africa. Despite the small sample size, the results
are applicable to most researchers in similar situations.
Conclusions
The challenges faced by young African researchers seem
to be similar across all the participants who took part in
this study. These challenges include scarcity of mentors,
lack of funding, lack of writing skills, lack of motivation,
and low demand for research by policymakers. Research
capacity building courses, collaboration, and networking
opportunities are urgently needed. The ideas compiled in
this study contribute to the discourse on nding solutions to
promote research in Africa, which will hopefully assist in the
attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank Dr Andrew Beale of
TReND in Africa and Dr Sheila Ochugboju from the
Training Centre in Communication (TCC) for their efforts in
training the authors in scientic writing and communication.
The authors would also like to thank Tolulope D. Bisi-
Adeniyi, Chinenyenwa Ohia, James Majamanda, Yasinta
Ganiza, Blessings Msikuwanga, Matrida Themuka, Aubren
Chirwa, and Edwin Kagereki for their contributions to the
study design and for providing some useful data during
questionnaire administration.
... 7 Nevertheless, in most African countries, research excellence is hampered by several challenges including lack of research mentorship for young faculty and students, limited research funding, and lack of motivation, as well as heavy teaching loads. [7][8][9][10] The problem of a lack of research mentorship for young faculty and students is particularly concerning and often too common among universities in Africa. [7][8][9][10] It follows that strengthening of research mentorship in universities is key to Africa's future. ...
... [7][8][9][10] The problem of a lack of research mentorship for young faculty and students is particularly concerning and often too common among universities in Africa. [7][8][9][10] It follows that strengthening of research mentorship in universities is key to Africa's future. 7 Toward this goal, innovative approaches are required to foster acquisition of both research proficiency as well as research leadership skills. ...
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... Reviews of capacity strengthening programs have noted difficulties in equipping scholars to work within structural challenges at institutional and country levels. Such challenges include a lack of funding, salary support, protected time to conduct research, research personnel and infrastructure, and mentorship [34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43]. Without adequate financial support, graduates are unable to support their research endeavors and may supplement their salary through consultancies or clinical engagements, thus decreasing the amount of time they can dedicate to the development and implementation of research. ...
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... Relevant to the context of this project, which occurred during the spring of 2020 and the global outbreak of COVID-19, students who are in a distance learning form of instruction are at even greater disadvantage, having fewer resources or reduced in-person instructor access to prepare for courses or exams (Chawinga & Zozie, 2016). Further, within the African context, Kumwenda et al. (2017) explained that early career researchers who attended a scientific writing and communication workshop struggled to secure mentorships which would allow them to have professional research trajectories. If such early career researchers also needed to learn how to write documents such as abstracts to advocate for their own research, they would be at a greater disadvantage than peers in inner circle English-speaking countries. ...
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Students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) often write abstracts for research assignments but may not understand the purpose of an abstract. This paper presents the pilot of a simple guide for writing abstracts which gave student support to two undergraduate Malawian ELL students for their undergraduate research assignment. The two students and the instructor found the handout was helpful for the students to develop technical writing skills for the abstracts.
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Introduction: Thyrotoxicosis is one of the most common endocrine disorders seen in clinical practice. This study aims to determine the etiologies and treatment modalities of thyrotoxicosis in Africa. Areas covered: The study design is a systematic review with a meta-analysis. Medical databases and the gray literature were systematically searched following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Studies done in Africa on the etiology and treatment of thyrotoxicosis were selected. Expert opinion: In Africa, it is still believed that autoimmune diseases, generally, are not as common as what is seen in the western world. The frequency of Graves' disease is reportedly lower in Africa. The treatment of thyrotoxicosis depends on the cause. Therefore, it is of substantial importance to establish the etiology following the diagnosis of the clinical syndrome.
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The aim of this paper was to explore the factors affecting knowledge production, diffusion and utilisation in a university environment taking the University of Zambia Medical School as a case of study. Methodologically, a survey of lecturers was carried out. Data was collected using a semi structured questionnaire; and analysed using MS Excel which was later presented in simple statistics of figures and graphs. The study established that knowledge production, diffusion and utilisation was affected by inadequate funding, time, interest, technology, availability of appropriate reading materials, incentives, internet research skills, heavy workload and lack of publication outlets. The study contributes to the understanding of the context of the factors that may play a negatively role in the knowledge production, diffusion and utilisation practices in Universities.
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PURPOSE This study investigated the status of training and preparedness for oncology practice and research and degree of interprofessional collaboration among health care professionals in the six geopolitical regions of Nigeria. METHODS A convergent parallel mixed methods design was used. Three hundred seventeen respondents completed a three-part, online questionnaire. Self-rated competencies in oncology research (26 items), oncology practice (16 items), and interprofessional collaboration (nine items) were assessed with a one- to five-point Likert scale. Six key informant and 24 in-depth interviews were conducted. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, and pairwise t-test were used to analyze the quantitative data, whereas thematic analysis was used for the qualitative data. RESULTS Respondents were mostly female (65.6%) with a mean age of 40.5 ± 8.3 years. Respondents include 178 nurses (56.2%), 93 medical doctors (29.3%), and 46 pharmacists (14.5%). Self-assessed competencies in oncology practice differed significantly across the three groups of health care professionals ( F = 4.789, P = .009). However, there was no significant difference across professions for competency in oncology research ( F = 1.256, P = .286) and interprofessional collaboration ( F = 1.120, P = .327). The majority of respondents (267, 82.4%) felt that educational opportunities in oncology-associated research in the country are inadequate and that this has implications for practice. Key training gaps reported include poor preparedness in data analysis and bioinformatics (138, 43.5%), writing clinical trials (119, 37.5%), and writing grant/research proposals (105, 33.1%). Challenges contributing to gaps in cancer research include few trained oncology specialists, low funding for research, and inadequate interprofessional collaboration. CONCLUSION This study highlights gaps in oncology training and practice and an urgent need for interventions to enhance interprofessional training to improve quality of cancer care in Nigeria. These would accelerate progress toward strengthening the health care system and reducing global disparities in cancer outcomes.
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Evidence exists that women and people from low‐ and middle‐income countries are under‐represented on the editorial boards of medical journals. This may adversely influence the journal output. We conducted a pooled, cross‐sectional evaluation of the editorial board membership of anaesthesia journals. We collected data on members of editorial boards from the founding year and at 5‐yearly intervals until 2020. For each editor, we recorded gender, country of affiliation, World Bank income classification (1990 onwards) and editorial role (2020 only). The composite editorial board diversity score was calculated for each editorial board. We obtained complete data for the composition of editorial boards from all 30 journals for 2020, but for only 155 out of 304 editorial boards (51%) over the time period examined. In 2020, 409 out of 1973 (21%) were women (range across the editorial boards 0–39%) and 139 out of 1982 (7%) were from low‐, low‐middle‐ and upper‐middle‐income countries (range across the editorial boards 0–71%). In 2020, of editorial board positions with known seniority status, 109 out of 259 (42%) of women and 306 out of 960 (32%) of men were in senior roles. In the same year, 397 out of 1115 (36%) of people from high‐income countries were in senior roles, compared with 19 out of 93 (20%) of people from upper‐middle‐income countries and 0 out of 14 (0%) people from lower‐middle‐income countries. The median composite editorial board diversity score was 4 (range 2–6) in 2020 – 5 or less suggests poor diversity, while 8 or more suggests good diversity. Women and people from low‐ and middle‐income countries are under‐represented on anaesthesia journal editorial boards. The editorial boards do not reflect the anaesthesia workforce and may act as a barrier to the publication of research produced by these groups. Urgent action is required to improve diversity.
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A dearth of information on urban ecosystem services in the past decades has led to little consolidation of such information for informed planning, decision-making and policy development in sub-Saharan African cities. However, the increasing recognition of the value of urban ecological processes and services as well as their contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation has recently become an area of great research interest. Specifically, the emerging geospatial analytical approaches like remote sensing have led to an increase in the number of studies that seek to quantify and map urban ecosystem services at varying scales. Hence, this study sought to review the current remote sensing trends, challenges and prospects in quantifying urban ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa cities. Literature shows that consistent modelling and understanding of urban ecosystem services using remotely sensed approaches began in the 1990s, with an average of five publications per year after around 2010. This is mainly attributed to the approach’s ability to provide fast, accurate and repeated spatial information necessary for optimal and timely quantification and mapping of urban ecosystem services. Although commercially available high spatial resolution sensors (e.g. the Worldview series, Quickbird and RapidEye) with higher spatial and spectral properties have been valuable in providing highly accurate and reliable data for quantification of urban ecosystem services, their adoption has been limited by high image acquisition cost and small spatial coverage that limits regional assessment. Thus, the newly launched sensors that provide freely and readily available data (i.e. Landsat 8 and 9 OLI, Sentinel-2) are increasingly becoming popular. These sensors provide data with improved spatial and spectral properties, hence valuable for past, current and future urban ecosystem service assessment, especially in developing countries. Therefore, the study provides guidance for future studies to continuously assess urban ecosystem services in order to achieve the objectives of Kyoto Protocol and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD +) of promoting climate-resilient and sustainable cities, especially in developing world.
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Despite efforts made by sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries to promote evidence-informed health policymaking, translating research evidence into policy remains a very challenging task fraught with many barriers. However, to achieve the goal of making more evidence-informed decisions to improve health, it is critical to overcome the barriers to the translation of research into policy. This paper provides an overview of the barriers and facilitators of translating research into policy in SSA countries to understand why research findings are sometimes not translated into policy and makes suggestions for improving the situation. Arksey and O’Malley’s five-step methodological framework guided the scoping review process. Primary research literature published in English between January 2010 and March 2021 was systematically searched using PubMed, Google Scholar, Web of Science and EBSCO host search engines. We focused on articles that reported on the barriers to and facilitators of translating research findings into policy. Two hundred and twenty-three articles were identified but 162 articles met the eligibility criteria. Of those that met the eligibility criteria, 73 were excluded after reading the title and abstract. After title and abstract screening, a further 70 articles were excluded thus remaining with only 19 articles from 16 SSA countries that were given a full review through data extraction and thematic analysis. The most common barriers identified were limited capacity by policymakers to use evidence, inaccessibility of research evidence, lack of high-quality usable evidence and use of policy briefs alone. Although translation of research findings into policy is fraught with a multitude of barriers, there are means to overcome them such as the availability of research results, strengthened capacity for evidence use, the establishment of a department of research within the Ministry of Health, appropriate packaging of research results, use of policy briefs, stakeholder feedback meetings and annual research dissemination conferences where policy briefs are discussed and distributed. Where funding is limited research should be policy driven instead of open-ended to avoid wasting resources. It is imperative to have a comprehensive approach to reduce barriers whilst enhancing facilitators that may improve the translation of research findings into policy.
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Putting into consideration the objective of the SDG 4, it would be important to note that the provision, access, and use of information resources such as open access (OA) journals is a sine qua non for quality education in Africa. Despite its importance to the education system, open access journals have been proliferated by predatory journals. Stakeholders in the OA movement and academia claim that predatory publishing is a big problem for scientific communication and could undermine development efforts. Hence, the increasing use of predatory open access journals could affect the attainment of SDGs in Africa; hence, there is the need to raise awareness to enhance the possibility of attaining the SDGs in Africa. This chapter will among others enumerate the possible havocs predatory open access journals can create and the setbacks on the attainment of SDGs in Africa. It will also spell out the necessary prospects of curtailing these havocs and setbacks towards providing quality-based information resources such as open access journals to the education societies in Africa.
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This article reflects on some of the issues arising in research involving young people as co-researchers. It addresses the challenges faced by one research team in implementing a lottery-funded project in England that addressed young people’s health needs. The researchers judged that a collaborative approach would be appropriate in this context, and considerable attention is paid to the role of young people as ‘co-researchers’. A number of significant methodological issues were identified, associated with key themes:- practicalities; ethics; validity; and value. The article addresses a number of challenges in each area, exploring the implications for projects that involve young people as co-researchers. The article discusses the strategies adopted by the researchers in order to resolve these concerns. The article concludes that there are real benefits to be gained from participatory research, which clearly offset the additional demands involved.
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