The Carnegie “Next Generation for Academics in Africa” Project proposal seeks to improve University of Ghana faculty research capacity and productivity. One of the key strategies under this objective is to organise training workshops in proposal writing and research fund-raising. The purpose of the proposal writing workshops is to equip UG faculty to attract external funds for research. In line with this, the first proposal writing workshop under the project was organised on from 14th to 16th June, 2011and targeting fifty (50) early career researchers/ lecturers with resource persons drawn from within the University community. The workshop also attracted five (5) participants from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria.
The workshop were held as plenary and breakout sessions. Participants were required to submit their project ideas/concepts prior to the workshop. This requirement was to enable the participants to form groups and develop proposals along common themes.
The workshop focused mainly on the proposal development process including discussions on the elements of a proposal, constructing project budgets as well as the proposal review process. Participants had the opportunity to interact with representatives from USAID and DFID, who are major global sponsors in research and development projects.
The Knowledge & Skill Enhancement Training Workshops were instituted by the School of Graduate Studies to compliment trainings run by individual departments and faculty in the area of research methodology, data analysis, thesis writing, among others. The workshops are being run in collaboration with the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID), the School of Graduate Studies and the Carnegie “Next Generation of Academics in Africa” Project as part of the project objective number 4, which says, “By the end of 2015, all MPhil and PhD graduates from the University of Ghana will have the opportunity to participate in special skills training to improve thesis research quality and graduates’ market value.”
In 2011, four of such workshops were organized. The first two workshops (February 22 to 23 and March 1- 2) focused on “Thesis Writing” and aimed to improve the quality of theses produced by University of Ghana post-graduate students who attended the workshops. Topics covered all aspects of thesis writing, including structure, substance and style, data analysis and interpretation of results as well as ethical issues.
The third and fourth workshops (30th to 31st May, 2011 and 2nd to 3rd June, 2011) focused on “Planning and Managing Graduate Research,” with the aim of enhancing the students’ ability to identify a research topic, plan and carry out the research and deliver high quality thesis research in good time. There
In all, a total of two hundred and ninety-seven (297) post-graduate students, both from the Sciences and Humanities, benefitted from the workshops Knowledge and Skill Enhancement Workshops in 2011. The project is tracking the performance of students who benefited from these workshops in terms of thesis quality and submission time as compared with others who did not participate in the workshops as a way of evaluating the impact of the workshops.
Mentoring as an institutionalized activity at the University of Ghana is a much needed tool for enhancing graduate students relationships with their research supervisors and faculty members with the end goal of enhancing post-graduate training and research. The Carnegie “Next Generation of Academics in Africa” Project initiated this process by inviting heads of faculties, departments and senior administrators of the University to a meeting to discuss this need and process, which took place on 30th September 2011. Issues discussed were the roles of the mentor and the mentee, qualifications for a mentor, the structure and period of the mentoring relationship, the expected outcome, benefits and how the mentoring relationships would be assessed.
From the initial meeting, a team, coordinated by Dr. Helen Yitah and Ms. Ama Dadson, is working on the creation of the mentoring policy that would be presented and adopted by the University of Ghana.
With support from the Carnegie “Next Generation for Academics in Africa” Project Team, the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID) organized its first Graduate Supervision Workshop for faculty members on Tuesday, 7th June, 2011 at the University of Ghana. This was organised as part of the goal of enhancing the delivery of research work and graduate training. The purpose of the workshop was to help faculty members define their roles and responsibilities as supervisors towards graduate students, thereby increasing students’ access to good supervision.
An even split group of thirty-four faculty members from the Humanities and Sciences attended this workshop.
It was noted doing the workshop that some the responsibilities of the supervisor include providing guidance, providing emotional support and handling required administrative roles in the life of the graduate student. Participants at the workshop found this session on roles of the supervisor most useful.
Other topics that were discussed during the workshop were the role of the as graduate students, the issue of graduate committees as a gap that needed to be tackled in some departments.
Through the initiative of the Carnegie Next Generation of Academics in Africa Project, University of Ghana has established a pilot Diaspora Linkage Programme (UG-DLP), which seeks to promote partnerships with Ghanaian professors in the Diaspora that will enable the University of Ghana to draw on the expertise of academics in partner universities abroad in order to enhance its faculty strength for post-graduate teaching, supervision and thesis examination. It is the expectation that such partnerships will lead also to collaborative research that will enhance research productivity.
The University of Ghana-Diaspora Linkage Programme has established links with existing Ghana Diaspora Networks and individual Ghanaian professors working in universities abroad to facilitate this process. Ghanaian professors in the Diaspora can obtain the endorsement from their universities to use their leave/sabbatical periods to support the University of Ghana. Selected professors must be available to spend a minimum of one month, but ideally one to two semesters at UG, and must be willing to teach graduate courses, supervise MPhil/PhD students, examine student theses and engage in research, ideally in collaboration with UG faculty. Our expectation is that this arrangement will provide additional faculty time input to enhance teaching and research at UG and support the development of new post-graduate programmes.
Under this programme, two professors have already visited the University of Ghana. In 2011: Prof. Dorothy Odartey-Wellington from the School of Languages and Literatures, University of Guelph joined the Spanish Department from 15th August, 2011 to 22nd December 2011, while Michael Baffoe from the Faculty of Social Work, Manitoba University joined the Department of Social Work, from 15th August, 2011 to 30th December, 2011.