By Mrs. Joana Oiza Adeleke,
Lecturer Bowen University, Nigeria
A journey of a thousand miles, they say, begins with a step. This is true for me as an academic. I started this journey a few years ago and I was in for a big surprise. A career in academics was not as I had imagined it to be. I had great lecturers during my undergraduate days, and I could not have imagined that academics will be so demanding. However, I courageously took on the challenge to be excellent.
I had heard about the African Science Frontiers Initiatives (ASFI) from a colleague at the workplace. She told me about a course that ASFI had organized, which she thought would be helpful to me. This was the beginning of my journey with ASFI. I immediately joined the bandwagon. Since then, I have attended several ASFI monthly scientific seminars and joined one of the courses (systematic reviews and meta-analysis). These various encounters have made tremendous improvements in my teaching and research. I am now more passionate about passing across the knowledge and skills I am gaining to my students. My involvement with ASFI has not only been beneficial for my academic career but has also been very impactful as an individual.
One area of improvement for me is with respect to critical reading and reviewing of scientific articles. A literature review is very essential in the research process. Although reading scientific articles is usually interesting for me, understanding several concepts in original papers can be difficult for me. This is particularly so for systematic review and meta-analysis papers. However, having participated in the last ASFI course on systematic reviews and meta-analysis, I saw a profound change in my abilities to critically appraise these papers. Now, I look forward to reading articles on systematic reviews and meta-analysis because I have a better understanding of them.
Conducting research, excellent research, requires knowledge, research skills and a good attitude. The motivation is, through one’s research, to contribute positively to the development of the society. The effect excellent research has when implemented and applied to solving problems in the society is immeasurable. In doing this, the right mindset is indispensable. In all ASFI programs, there is a continuous emphasis on the central role of the society as the primary beneficiary of our research activities. This is a paradigm shift in my understanding of research and thus has led to a great improvement in my mindset towards research and its wider societal impact. I am now more eager to not just conduct research but also to ensure that my research has an impact in the society. This and more are some of the things ASFI encourages and emphasizes.
My journey in ASFI continues. My decision is that ASFI will continue to be my companion in my career as an academic and researcher. Learning is continuous and never stops. I look forward to participating in more seminars, courses and programs organized by ASFI.
By Dr. Jerita Mwambi
Lecturer Pwani University, Kenya
One day, my colleague at the university forwarded to me a poster written “Research Funding and Grant Writing” course in block letters. The course was being organized by the African Science Frontiers Initiatives (ASFI). I had never come across ASFI before. I got interested in the course since my colleagues and I were already struggling with grant writing. I still remember this day very well, precisely on 23rd March 2022. The deadline for the course application was 25th March. I quickly sent in my application. I was very excited about this course and waited anxiously for the results of the application, which was to be announced on 1st April 2022. I was selected to participate in the course.
The online Research Funding and Grant Writing held 15th - 19th April 2022 was my first ASFI course. That course week was a
very exciting and fulfilling one for me. I participated fully in every activity and gained much knowledge on how to develop
my grant idea and calve out a fundable grant proposal.
As with every ASFI course, we were divided into groups, each group having the task of developing a funding proposal during the course of the week. This hands-on, participatory approach was an eye-opener to me as it provided me with the opportunity to directly delve into putting into practice what I learned during the course. My course group provided me with the opportunity to interact and network with many scholars from different African countries.
A WhatsApp Group for all the course participants was established, allowing us to continue with the connections we established during the course. I joined the grant writing mentoring group established after the course. Through this platform, I have been able to collaborate and share productive ideas with other researchers from other disciplines and African countries.
After the course, one of the participants sent a funding call to the WhatsApp Group. I quickly took up the call and organized three of my colleagues. I gained so much confidence after the ASFI course that I believed that we would be successful in grant call. The impact of the course on my confidence was remarkable. My colleagues and I submitted the grant proposal. Out of 58 applicants, we were awarded the grant. This is just the beginning for me. This adds value to my career growth as a university lecturer.
I have continued to attend other ASFI courses, including Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis and Art of Scientific Writing and Publishing, as well as the monthly science seminars and Dr. Nwaru’s Research Tips and Tricks, which are very enlightening and have continued to broaden my research horizon. ASFI has opened the doors of collaborations for me across the breadth and length of Africa. My attitude towards research has completely changed, I am now more enthusiastic about getting into more research work.
I have registered as an ASFI member and will continue to participate in upcoming courses and programs. I will continue to recommend the same to my colleagues. Thank you very much Dr Nwaru for coming up with such a great initiative.
Dr. Precious Eteike, Senior Resident Doctor
Federal University Teaching Hospital Owerri, Nigeria
My story with the African Science Frontiers Initiatives (ASFI) began in June 2021. A colleague of mine had sent me a link for application to the 2021 edition of the Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis course. With a great enthusiasm and positive expectations, I quickly sent in my application. Unfortunately, on 9th July 2021, I got the disappointing, negative, and mood-changing e-mail from ASFI that read, “I regret to say that you have not been accepted to this edition of the course”. What a sad moment it was for me! But I accepted the decision in good fate and moved on, yet determined to try again next time.
I attended the one-year anniversary of ASFI themed, “Celebrating a little beginning, looking into big future” held in July 2021.
This event was an eye opener and quite enlightening. From that event, I decided to pay close attention to the programs of ASFI and
not be discouraged. This was a herculean task as the timing of some of the programs would subsequently clash with my work schedules, but I didn’t give up.
Next in line in ASFI programs was the tenth edition of the Seminar Series 2021 titled “Playing the game, the unwritten rules of a successful scientist” This served as a booster and catalyst and thus helped in no small measure to keep my hope alive. I have also attended many editions of the “Dr Nwaru’s Research Tips and Tricks” from which I have learnt a lot.
The time came to apply for the 2022 edition of the Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis. This was exactly one year when my 2021 application was denied. Precisely, on the 10th of July 2022, I got an e-mail from ASFI with joy that I had been accepted to participate in the course. The news was so encouraging to me to say the least. I made the necessary preparations by taking a casual leave from work. Indeed, words will certainly not describe my experience during this course. The excellent organization, rich content, and exceptional teaching approach remain enduring in my heart. The break-out and hands-on-sessions were so impactful.
I was also accepted to the Art of Scientific Writing and Publishing course, which took place in December 2022. It was after this course that I had no option than to register as a member of ASFI when the call was made. I am currently undergoing the next course “Research: Quality, Productivity and Impact.”
Using the skills learned from these courses, I have now published three original articles in international journals; established a functional, multi-disciplinary/specialties research collaboration team in the Hospital where I work. I am currently collaborating with colleagues to produce a systemic review on polycystic ovarian syndrome in African women. For these, I am eternally grateful to the ASFI.
No quality societal development can occur without quality scientific research and development. This I have learnt from ASFI. Indeed, my journey so far with ASFI has been an impactful and a transformative one.