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Strengthening capacity building of local researchers in Papua New Guinea

  • Pohnpei State Hospital & PNG Research Outreach Inc


Research expands knowledge and information for development. This paper is an informal survey assessing the state of institutional infrastructure that facilitates the advancement of Papua New Guinean researchers within PNG and discusses the challenges that limit opportunities for training and development. Some factors that could improve research capacity are; (1) Building a common view to support local researchers among in-country stakeholders, (2) Research and higher education leadership vested in creating opportunities for training from undergraduate to higher degree levels (3) Activate and expand funding schemes to provide assistance to student researchers and build institutional capacity and (4) Promote activities that strengthen research culture such as academic publishing which has declined. While international collaborations have assisted PNG greatly in developing research to current standards, a greater level of commitment and action is needed within PNG institutions to improve and maximize the development of local researchers.
Contemporary PNG Studies: DWU Research Journal Volume 37, May 2022 12
Strengthening capacity building of local researchers in Papua New Guinea
Leontine Baje and Rodney L. Itaki
Research expands knowledge and information for development. This paper is an informal
survey assessing the state of institutional infrastructure that facilitates the advancement of
Papua New Guinean researchers within PNG and discusses the challenges that limit
opportunities for training and development. Some factors that could improve research capacity
are; (1) Building a common view to support local researchers among in-country stakeholders,
(2) Research and higher education leadership vested in creating opportunities for training from
undergraduate to higher degree levels (3) Activate and expand funding schemes to provide
assistance to student researchers and build institutional capacity and (4) Promote activities that
strengthen research culture such as academic publishing which has declined. While
international collaborations have assisted PNG greatly in developing research to current
standards, a greater level of commitment and action is needed within PNG institutions to
improve and maximize the development of local researchers.
Keywords: local researchers, research development and Papua New Guinea
A country’s conduct of its own science or research is as much a part of national integrity and
independence as its right to make its own political decisions and preserve culture and traditions
(Kesteven, 1983). The building and utilization of knowledge within a nation is closely linked to its
growth and levels of poverty (Patrick, 2002). Countries that have invested in research and development
have experienced greater national and economic growth than those that have not (Acharya & Pathak,
2019). Like other developing nations Papua New Guinea (PNG) faces typical issues of scarcity of
funding, inadequate infrastructure and lack of human resources trained in various research fields
(Cordova & Yaghi, 2019; Rooney & Papoutsaki, 2004; Vose & Cervellini, 1983). Collaborative
research partnerships involving national and foreign participants address some of these barriers by
providing funding, expertise and training opportunities. Local researchers engaged in these partnerships
may have the opportunity to undertake further postgraduate studies and maximize the outcomes of their
participation but due to the lack of support this is often not realized.
Various authors have commented on the significance and state of research development in PNG.
Rooney and Papoutsaki (2004) questioned the intention for research in PNG. Garnaut and Namaliu
(2010) pointed out in a review of PNG universities that research conducted by indigenous scholars
culminating in a body of authoritative text on PNG issues is essential to national building. Novotny and
Toko (2015) highlighted progress and challenges of PNG nationals trained in terrestrial ecology
research. However, it is necessary to maintain this discourse considering the implications of supporting
national or local researchers to attain higher degrees by research and to continue academic and scholarly
work for PNG in this present time. While there is a multitude of significant progress that will be
forthcoming three key areas of advancement can be broadly identified.
Firstly, the capacity building of local researchers contributes towards realization of PNG’s national
goals and directive principles, in particular integral human development, equality and participation and
national sovereignty and self-reliance which are the premise for national development yet have been
overlooked since PNG’s independence (Kaiku, 2018). Secondly, this would supply the academic work
force for PNG’s growing number of higher education institutions which includes eight established
universities and a nineth university in the early stages of formation (Post Courier, 2022b). The current
output of doctoral degrees from national institutions and from aid scholarships are insufficient to meet
future needs. Thirdly, current issues such as climate change and the COVID 19 pandemic are multi-
faceted and have widespread societal impacts that can potentially exacerbate other existing social issues
13 Baje & Itaki, Strengthening capacity building of local researchers in Papua New Guinea
requiring rapid and robust response mechanisms (Hukula, 2020). Active research networks gathering
information across systems and sectors of society for higher level policy and evidence based decision
making are needed (Hynes et al., 2020). Therefore equipping PNG with expertise to address complex
problems that require a multi-disciplinary approach to formulate interventions (Avishek et al., 2012;
Waltham et al., 2020) should be a priority. Consequently, the aim of this paper is to continue the
dialogue on development and support for local researchers through an informal survey of the present
situation, describe the challenges faced and discuss ways forward.
Research infrastructure in PNG and challenges for university led research
In Papua New Guinea established government research institutions support agriculture, health, forestry
and public policy through the National Agricultural Research institute, PNG Institute of Medical
Research, PNG Forest Research Institute and National Research Institute respectively, all having links
to international partners. Independent research organizations are also established to support agricultural
practices for oil palm, coconut and cocoa and coffee cash crop production. Non-Governmental
organizations currently actively supporting and conducting research are the Piku Biodiversity Network
focusing on conservation of endangered species and the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre which
conducts research in terrestrial ecology focusing on insect plant relationships and other related research.
Research functions are also embedded in public service roles of sector organizations, though at times
organizational changes have led to the downsizing or removal of such functions (Kolkolo, 2005) which
lead to ad-hoc approaches (Allison et al., 2019; Forsyth, 2015) often involving international
collaborators when expertise are not found in PNG. While research institutions and organizations
contribute significantly to progressing the creation of knowledge in their respective areas of work, the
contribution of national universities which encompasses a broader scope of subject areas needs to
PNG remains under-performing in research across broader areas of study (Baje et al., 2018; Dinnen,
2019; N’Drower, 2014). Therefore, research collaborations are opportunities for baseline country-
specific information. Depending on the extent of data collection, “spin-off” projects can be developed
alongside core project objectives (White et al., 2018). International support has enabled Papua New
Guineans to undertake research studies abroad through scholarships and fellowship programs
(, however, in cases where studies
can be undertaken in PNG, mentoring and supervisory support from local universities is essential.
Therefore, the collaboration between sector organizations, universities and or research institutions must
be strengthened with a shared view on providing a framework to support capacity building of local
researchers. Importantly this should include a quality control system of sourcing suitable research
candidates when needed as this alleviates the human resource burden particularly on public sector
organizations to recruit personnel as this can be a cumbersome process delaying project schedules or
when further recruitment within an organization is not possible.
The call for indigenizing research in PNG has been discussed over the years (Brydon & Lawihin, 2016;
Rooney & Papoutsaki, 2004). Local researchers bring forward Melanesian perspectives (Neuendorf,
2014) and are better placed to develop country specific tools, for example, an indigenous research
methodology for the social sciences suited to the Papua New Guinean cultural setting (N’Drower,
2020). However, the focus of national higher education institutions has mainly been to provide teaching
and learning environments and less knowledge building through research culminating in a lack of
national research personnel and associated infrastructure (Rooney & Papoutsaki, 2004). At times large
teaching loads of more than 200 students per course places considerable strain on academics leaving
little room to focus on other roles (M.S. Wagambie pers com). With academic staff unable to fully
engage in research this leads to greater separation of universities and external research institutions
though this situation can be helped by stationing postgraduate students in research institutions and
maintaining the involvement of guest lecturers from research institutions at universities (Novotny &
Toko, 2015). Nevertheless, the development of research as a key performance indicator for academic
staff is recognized (Satter et al., 2013) but training and funding deficiencies are faced by local
universities to run postgraduate programs (Akanda et al., 2013). In addition a change in the attitude of
Contemporary PNG Studies: DWU Research Journal Volume 37, May 2022 14
academic staff towards lifelong learning (Lahui-Ako, 2017) may improve affinity to research and
supporting students as mentors and advisors. Due to these issues international expertise is often relied
upon through collaborative projects to support research development.
Factors that strengthen research development
Research leadership
Progress to build the capacity and volume of national researchers is limited to where institutional
leadership exists to support students. Consistent efforts to train local researchers builds national
expertise that can take on research supervision roles in future provided trained personnel are absorbed
into institutions through employment or engaged externally to mentor and advice students. For
example, the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre (NGBRC) prioritizes the academic advancement
of local research staff from undergraduate to post graduate levels in terrestrial ecology studies. The
NGBRC links students with foreign expertise and enlists the supervisory support from local universities
in degree programs where possible, staff are also supported to study overseas for higher degrees, where
the Center has contributed to six PNG nationals enrolled as doctoral students at a foreign university
( Conversely, where training
opportunities are few or non-existent research collaborations risk becoming “parachute research” where
local staff are used merely as collectors of data and may not be given recognition for their work or are
overlooked for useful capacity building exercises such as involvement in the development of
publications (Braun, 2021). There is awareness among visiting scientists to ensure appropriate in
country regulations are followed and trust is built among collaborating parties (Chin et al., 2019).
However equal attention to this issue is also needed from in-country stakeholders to safeguard the
interests of local researchers.
Funding is a major enabler of research development including scholarships and expansion of physical
infrastructure. In PNG national funding for specific research-oriented work is captured in the functions
of sector organizations and institutions, however, this is limited and does not cater for progressive
training and support for local researchers. Lack of research funding in the technological sector in PNG
can also impede innovations (Wright, 2016). For a period prior to the formation of the Science and
Technology Council Secretariat the Department of Higher Education Research Science and Technology
(DHERST) formally known as the Office of Higher Education administered a competitive grant scheme
totaling K500, 000 annually. The National Research Agenda developed by the Secretariat of Science
and Technology aims to provide funding for in-country research projects in the future (Forsyth, 2016)
and may be an avenue to source funds for common expenses such as tuition and stipend for local
researchers. Recently the Secretariate has provided funding in excess of K100,000 for research projects
at the University of Technology (Post Courier, 2021). Noting that international funding can limit
national participation (Erondu et al., 2021) domestic funding schemes focused on national data and
information needs become increasingly important and should be administered following successful
models used in developed nations such as the Australian Research Council grant scheme where
applications are open to all institutions and funds are awarded on merit by a panel of independent
researchers (Novotny & Toko, 2015).
It is critical that the administration of funds should be without politization and corruption as these have
had detrimental effects on research and development in PNG (Omuru & Kingwell, 2006). Sector
organizations or government departments could also consider funding minor research projects at local
universities that contribute information for their respective national functions. At times public sector
organizations have invested funds into the data collection component of collaborative projects (Nicol
et al., 2010), however, funding for post graduate qualifications of local researchers involved in these
projects is overlooked. By allocating national funding support for local researchers’ additional gains to
research deliverables can be achieved. Appropriation of funds for research could support diverse
options such as joint or hybrid post graduate fellowships involving local and foreign universities where
researchers would be based locally. This would strengthen the capacity of local university staff to play
15 Baje & Itaki, Strengthening capacity building of local researchers in Papua New Guinea
a supervisory role, omit the difficulties faced by international students in foreign countries (Khanal &
Gaulee, 2019) and avoid the post study issues of re-integration that confront returning scholars who
have undertaken studies abroad (Langi, 2014).
Building research culture through peer-review scholarly publishing
A strong research culture is built on scholarly activities including peer-review and publishing of
research findings. It can be argued that the representation of nationals as first or last author in
publications is an indicator for research development (Mbaye et al., 2019). In many developing
countries including PNG the publication process is led by foreign researchers and there is a need for
greater exposure to the independent peer review process for local researchers (Singh, 2006). University
twinning projects aim to address this skills gap in academic staff (Baird et al., 2015) and similar
strategic training and mentorship programs tailored to research participants in the public service
(Thomson et al., 2016) would also be beneficial. Successful research publication is a prerequisite for
further postgraduate study which should be encouraged. However, avenues to publish research in
country are limited as few scholarly journals administered by local universities are active. While new
journals in the social sciences and education were recently launched
on-line), scientific publication has fallen behind. The Science in New Guinea Journal and the Papua
New Guinean Journal of Agriculture are examples of scientific periodicals that have ceased publication.
The Papua New Guinea Medical Journal published by the Papua New Guinea Medical Society is one
of the few scientific journals still in publication although the publication is usually one to two years
behind. The peer review process is very slow taking up to 12 months for reviewers to respond to authors
causing authors who wish to publish in the PNG Medical Journal to opt for international medical
journals. Recently, the Division of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of PNG School of
Medicine and Health Sciences has launched the Pacific Journal of Medical Sciences aimed at publishing
undergraduate and post graduate research conducted by students at the university. The absence of local
publishing avenues limits the practice of academic writing and peer-review and contributes to the under
representation of PNG in academic literature (Langer et al., 2004). Involvement in peer-review and
publishing activities should ideally be taught and encouraged in undergraduate studies to build a strong
foundation for future researchers. In addition, constraints to publishing internationally include high
publication fees such as those charged by open access journals which can be addressed through funding
schemes set up to support scholarly publication. Poor command of English at the university level may
also be contributing to lack of interest in writing and publishing.
Taking ownership
International collaborative research partnerships have contributed positively to the upskilling of local
researchers and have instituted relationships that remain potential opportunities for further growth
(Turpin et al., 2008). These partnerships especially involving the public sector create an environment
where research, practice and capacity building interact integrating entities that otherwise operate in a
fragmented manner (Senge & Kim, 2013). Donor agencies and international research partners
objectively support capacity building in the recipient country (Bartlett, 2018), however, national
institutions and organizations must also take ownership of this to advance the development of Papua
New Guineans (Lingam et al., 2014; MacDonald, 2008; Velho, 2002).
Universities can begin with leveraging the current relationships between PNG universities and
universities abroad for further opportunities to train local researchers addressing critical data and
information gaps for PNG. Existing links include the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and
the Australian National University through its Development Policy and other programs in the college
of Asia and the Pacific Centre as well as UPNG’s strong ties with the Cairns institute at James Cook
University. In addition, six PNG universities are members of the Pacific Islands Universities Research
Network (PIURN) where collaborations could also be fostered. Taking ownership may in the first
Contemporary PNG Studies: DWU Research Journal Volume 37, May 2022 16
instance require national universities to revisit mission and vision statements and form progressive
pathways to engage in research with in-country and external stakeholders (Baird & Kula-Semos, 2018).
Pathways Forward
While there is recognition of the importance of research development as a foundation for evidence-
based decision making the challenges faced by national universities impede progress and need to be
addressed as a high priority. Possible first steps given considerable funding constraints could involve
identification of specific needs that could be addressed through relatively low-cost interventions, for
example, establishing voluntary mentoring programs linking trained external researchers with
university faculties that need additional support. Secondly, specific training of academics for research
supervision and writing workshops to encourage scholarly writing and peer-review could be some
measures within the capacity of universities to take in the short to medium term.
These approaches will require universities to have a paradigm shift moving away from a purely teaching
role to having dual teaching-research roles. Such changes will require universities to make internal
organizational structural changes such as ensuring academic staff have paid protected time allocated
for research. Research output by universities could also be used by the government as a performance
indicator for additional university funding. Other approaches to strengthen research development such
as greater funding commitment from the government, policy directives and upgrading of research
facilities as articulated in the recommendations by Garnaut and Namaliu (2010) will take more time
and concerted effort from stakeholders.
Although important areas of progress must be also highlighted such as an increase in postgraduate
enrollment at the university of Technology that has also allocated K1 million from the university’s own
budget to support research (Post Courier, 2022a). In addition, the National Higher Education and
Technical Education Plan (NHETP) 2021-2030 produced by the Department of Higher Education
Research Science and Technology (DHERST) includes a focus on fostering a productive culture of
research and development throughout the higher education and technical education sector to support
national social and economic development. In the same token the department is strengthening ties with
the National Research Institute to meet the aims of the NHETP 2021-2030 through a memorandum of
understanding (DHERST, 2022).
Pathways to strengthening research capacity and training have been realized in other countries. In
Vietnam scientific research capacity was expanded through a global science approach fostering
mentoring relationships between research-strong institutions and local emerging scholars (Cordova &
Yaghi, 2019). An example from Malawi describes the establishment of a research support center to
provide both individual and institutional support through a phased approach over four years (Gomo et
al., 2011). Among low to middle income countries that have attempted to institutionalize and
strengthen research, important factors for long term success were equitable partnerships, strong local
leadership, higher education policies that support change, continued funding and incentivizing research
(Vicente-Crespo et al., 2020). These experiences serve as models that PNG could employ or modify
the application of such frameworks to suit local conditions.
While progress has been made towards the training and development of local researchers in PNG
further progress is required as research and innovation form a cornerstone of a developing society (Post
Courier, 2019). There are barriers to research though these are not insurmountable and existing
institutional linkages and processes can be strengthened to address the many societal issues facing PNG
at this present time. The effectiveness of efforts to improve research development in PNG can be
measured using indicators one of which should be an increase in the quantity and quality of scholarly
output by Papua New Guinean scholars in future. Ultimately, building the capacity of local researchers
should be taken seriously as it is one way of achieving overarching national goals that remain a
conceptual vision of prosperity until acted upon and institutionalized (Kaiku, 2020).The consequence
17 Baje & Itaki, Strengthening capacity building of local researchers in Papua New Guinea
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About the authors
Both Leontine Baje (PhD) and Rodney Itaki (MD) are graduates of UPNG and have careers in
Fisheries and Medicine respectively which include various research training and involvement in
research projects including publications. The authors are co-founders of Papua New Guinea Research
Outreach Inc., a non-profit entity established in December 2020 with a focus to advocate for greater
support for local researchers in Papua New Guinea. This is the first publication for PNGRO Inc.
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Background : Evidence on effective strategies to ensure sustainability of research capacity strengthening interventions in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) institutions is lacking. This systematic review identified publications describing research capacity building programs and noted their effect, their contexts, and the mechanisms, processes and social actors employed in them. Methods : We searched online databases for the period 2011-2018. Inclusion criteria were that the publications 1) described the intervention; 2) were implemented in LMICs; 3) were based in, or relevant to, university staff or post docs; 4) aimed to improve research capacity; 5) aimed to effect change at the institutional level. Two reviewers screened titles, abstracts and full text in consecutive rounds, a third resolved disagreements. Two people extracted the data of each full text using a data extraction tool covering data relevant to our question. Results : In total 4052 citations were identified and 19 papers were included, which referred to 14 interventions. Only three interventions mentioned using a conceptual framework to develop their approach and none described using a theory of change to assess outcomes. The most frequent inputs described were some method of formal training, promotion of a research-conducive environment and establishment of research support systems. A range of outcomes were reported, most frequently an increased number of publications and proportion of staff with PhDs. When factors of success were discussed, this was attributed to a rigorous approach to implementation, adequate funding, and local buy-in. Those who mentioned sustainability linked it to availability of funds and local buy-in. The lack of a common lexicon and a framework against which to report outcomes made comparison between initiatives difficult. Conclusions : The reduced number of interventions that met the inclusion criteria suggests that programs should be well-described, evaluated systematically, and findings published so that the research capacity strengthening community can extract important lessons.
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We live in a period of profound systemic change, and as in similar periods in the past, there is bound to be considerable instability and uncertainty before the new society and economy take shape. We have to identify actions that will shape change for the better, and help to build resilience to the inevitable shocks inherent in, and generated by, the complex system of systems constituted by the economy, society and the environment. These challenges require updating the way policies are devised and implemented, and developing more realistic tools and techniques to design those policies on the basis of appropriate data. In Systemic Thinking for Policy Making world experts from the OECD and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) pool their expertise and experience to propose new approaches to analysing the interconnected trends and issues shaping today’s and tomorrow’s world. The authors argue that to tackle planetary emergencies linked to the environment, the economy and socio-political systems, we have to understand their systemic properties, such as tipping points, interconnectedness and resilience. They give the reader a precise introduction to the tools and techniques needed to do so, and offer hope that we can overcome the challenges the world is facing.
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On 1 March 2019, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (New York) declared 2021–2030 the “UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.” This call to action has the purpose of recognizing the need to massively accelerate global restoration of degraded ecosystems, to fight the climate heating crisis, enhance food security, provide clean water and protect biodiversity on the planet. The scale of restoration will be key; for example, the Bonn Challenge has the goal to restore 350 million km2 (almost the size of India) of degraded terrestrial ecosystems by 2030. However, international support for restoration of “blue” coastal ecosystems, which provide an impressive array of benefits to people, has lagged. Only the Global Mangrove Alliance ( comes close to the Bonn Challenge, with the aim of increasing the global area of mangroves by 20% by 2030. However, mangrove scientists have reservations about this target, voicing concerns that it is unrealistic and may prompt inappropriate practices in attempting to reach this target (Lee et al., 2019). The decade of ecosystem restoration declaration also coincides with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which aims to reverse deterioration in ocean health. If executed in a holistic and coordinated manner, signatory nations could stand to deliver on both these UN calls to action.
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Introduction Africa contributes little to the biomedical literature despite its high burden of infectious diseases. Global health research partnerships aimed at addressing Africa-endemic disease may be polarised. Therefore, we assessed the contribution of researchers in Africa to research on six infectious diseases. Methods We reviewed publications on HIV and malaria (2013–2016), tuberculosis (2014–2016), salmonellosis, Ebola haemorrhagic fever and Buruli ulcer disease (1980–2016) conducted in Africa and indexed in the PubMed database using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol. Papers reporting original research done in Africa with at least one laboratory test performed on biological samples were included. We studied African author proportion and placement per study type, disease, funding, study country and lingua franca. Results We included 1182 of 2871 retrieved articles that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 1109 (93.2%) had at least one Africa-based author, 552 (49.8%) had an African first author and 41.3% (n=458) an African last author. Papers on salmonellosis and tuberculosis had a higher proportion of African last authors (p<0.001) compared with the other diseases. Most of African first and last authors had an affiliation from an Anglophone country. HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and Ebola had the most extramurally funded studies (≥70%), but less than 10% of the acknowledged funding was from an African funder. Conclusion African researchers are under-represented in first and last authorship positions in papers published from research done in Africa. This calls for greater investment in capacity building and equitable research partnerships at every level of the global health community.
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Research and development (R&D) offer promising clues to address wide range of socioeconomic problems through development of new products and services or often by improving the existing ones. High income countries have realized the worth of R&D and invested tremendously in that sector; however, resource-poor low income countries (LICs) are far behind in realizing the potential benefit that R&D could offer towards economic growth and national development. Even if some LICs have positive outlook towards R&D sector, the trend of emulating works from HICs to solve local or regional issues have most often yielded counterproductive results. LICs are suggested to primarily focus on applied research by incorporating their socioeconomic and cultural aspects to solve their everyday problems whose investigation is often ignored in research intensive nations. Moreover, applied research in LICs offers the potential to provide low-cost and innovative solutions to local and/or regional problems with global implications.
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Studying in overseas institutions presents international students with exciting opportunities; however, with these opportunities come challenges. Drawing on literature since the year 2000, this article addresses challenges confronting international students within some top sending countries and receiving countries. The challenges are categorized into pre-departure, post-departure, and post-study. The findings revealed pre-departure challenges, such as obtaining accurate information, understanding the admission procedure, and preparing documents for visa acquisition. Post-departure, international students face language barriers, financial issues, and cultural adjustment when they are in the host countries. Uncertain future and paperwork are the major challenges post-study. The findings of this article have useful implications for government personnel, as well as administrators of educational institutions that seek to attract international students.
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We detail the lessons learned, challenges, achievements, and outlook in building a chemistry research center in Vietnam. Through the principles of ‘global science’, we provide specific insight into the process behind establishing an internationally‐competitive research program – a model that is scalable and adaptable to countries beyond Vietnam. Furthermore, we highlight the prospects for success in advancing global science education, research capacity building, and mentorship.
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Coastal sharks with small body sizes may be among the most productive species of chondrichthyans. The Australian sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon taylori) is one of the most productive members of this group based on work in northern and eastern Australia. However, life history information throughout the remainder of its range is lacking. To address this knowledge gap, the age, growth and maturity of R. taylori caught in the Gulf of Papua prawn trawl fishery in Papua New Guinea, were studied. One hundred and eighty six individuals, comprising 131 females (31–66 cm TL) and 55 males (31–53 cm TL) were aged using vertebral analysis and growth was modelled using a multi-model approach. The lack of small individuals close to the size at birth made fitting of growth curves more difficult, two methods (fixed length at birth and additional zero aged individuals) accounting for this were trialled. The von Bertalanffy growth model provided the best fit to the data when used with a fixed length-at-birth (L0 = 26 cm TL). Males (L∞ = 46 cm TL, k = 3.69 yr⁻¹, L50 = 41.7 cm TL and A50 = 0.5 years) grew at a faster rate and matured at smaller sizes and younger ages than females (L∞ = 58 cm TL, k = 1.98 yr⁻¹, L5o = 47.0 cm TL and A50 = 0.93 years). However, none of the methods to account for the lack of small individuals fully accounted for this phenomenon, and hence the results remain uncertain. Despite this, the results reaffirm the rapid growth of this species and suggest that the Gulf of Papua population may grow at a faster rate than Australian populations. Rhizoprionodon taylori is possibly well placed to withstand current fishing pressure despite being a common bycatch species in the Gulf of Papua prawn trawl fishery. However, further research needs to be undertaken to estimate other key life history parameters to fully assess the population status of this exploited shark species and its vulnerability to fishing in the Gulf of Papua.
Conservation science is crucial to global conservation efforts, and often involves projects where foreign scientists visit a host country to conduct research. Science can significantly contribute to conservation efforts in host countries. However, poorly conceived and implemented projects can lead to poor conservation outcomes, cause negative impacts on communities, and compromise future research. This paper presents guidance from scientists, managers, and conservation practitioners following the 10 th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, the region's largest ichthyology meeting where delegates presented many examples of collaborative research. The guidance provided focuses on issues regarding planning and preparation, collaboration and reciprocity, and conduct and protocol. The intent is to provide conservation scientists with practical advice from locally based and experienced conservation scientists and practitioners about how to maximise research effectiveness and conservation benefits when working abroad. A range of activities and approaches are suggested that visiting scientists can adopt and implement to build the relationships and trust needed for effective collaboration with local actors. Building effective collaborations between local actors and visiting scientists can maximise research effectiveness and impact by ensuring that projects address the most important issues and conservation concerns, involve the appropriate people, use suitable methods and approaches, and carefully consider local contexts and ethics. Such projects are more likely to provide lasting benefits to both parties, and enhance conservation outcomes. However, both visiting scientists and local actors need to communicate clearly, be accommodating, and commit to a genuine partnership to realise these benefits.