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Supporting Developing Country Researchers in Publishing Their Work

AuthorAID Research Writing MOOC attracts a record number of developing country researchers

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By Andy Nobes | Sept. 26, 2016  |

AuthorAID Research Writing MOOC attracts a record number of developing country researchers

Recently at INASP we have been working hard to make our online courses more flexible and scalable, so that we can reach a wider range of researchers. We successfully ran our first Research Writing course as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) in November 2015, and in April this year we ran the course again, attracting over 1500 researchers from 79 countries.

The course lasted 6 weeks and was aimed at improving research writing skills of early career researchers in developing countries. We were very pleased to welcome our highest ever percentage (46%) of women researchers – thanks to advertising the course via the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD).

Course content and facilitators

The course consisted of 12 lessons, weekly quizzes, and two peer assessment activities (one of which was writing a research abstract or summary). The participants had to pass all the quizzes to qualify for a completion certificate and digital badge. A total of 902 participants completed the course, and 689 achieved a merit grade by also completing at least one of the peer assessment activities.

The course was run by two AuthorAID staff - Ravi Murugesan facilitated the course and the Andy Nobes was administrator. But the main feature of this course was the involvement of 20 guest facilitators from the AuthorAID network many of whom are AuthorAID mentors. They did a remarkable job of responding to the participants’ posts in the discussion forums, which numbered in the thousands!

“I would want to say a BIG THANK YOU to AuthorAID and INASP for this great opportunity and I hope to find a greater opportunity to impact this same knowledge and experience on researchers in my community.”
Helen Nneka Okpala, Nigeria (from  ‘AUTHORAID Research Writing Course: My experience on her personal blog)

Video discussion

Halfway through the course we organised a video discussion between a group of the guest facilitators concerning some of the main issues that had been discussed on the course, such as “How many papers should I read for my literature review?”, “How can we avoid predatory journals?” and “What happens if the research I need is hidden behind a paywall and I cannot access it?”. This discussion was recorded and it now available to watch online.

Participant interaction from all over the developing world

Participants came from many of our partner countries such as Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania, but we were also delighted to see researchers from other countries as far afield as Ecuador, Somalia, Egypt and the Philippines, as well as refugee researchers from Syria and Yemen.

The participants came from many disciplines, from agriculture to engineering to medicine to social sciences, and we created a research networking forum for participants to collaborate on their research topics. This was particularly successful and led to some fruitful discussions about topics such as cancer genetics, medicinal plant research, entrepreneurship, sustainable land use and many others. As a result of the course, 54% of participants reported that they planned to remain in touch with other participants, and 19% said they had already started corresponding privately with other participants to discuss research collaboration.

Congratulations to all participants who completed the course and achieved a certificate and badge!

You can read more about one participants’ experience on this guest blog post: AuthorAID Research Writing Course 2016 an eye-opener for a Researcher from Kenya

We will be running another Online Research Writing MOOC, starting Tuesday 18th October and ending Monday 28th November. For more information visit our E-learning page

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