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Guest Post: Improving Communication Skills of Researchers: A Note from Bangladesh

By Barbara Gastel | Jan. 15, 2012

[Note: This guest post is from Dr. Haseeb Md. Irfanullah. Thank you, Haseeb! —Barbara]

On 28 and 29 December—the last 2 working days of 2011 in Bangladesh—26 Bangladeshi researchers came together in the seminar room of the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences in Dhaka to take part in a training program supported by AuthorAID/INASP. The participants, guest speakers, and facilitator managed to touch on and discuss different aspects of research presentation and research paper writing. Given the short time and the participants’ diversity and expectations, they had to take a few measures to make the event useful. This note aims at highlighting those approaches.

  1. To make the event more useful, the draft program schedule was sent to the participants 1 week before the event for their feedback and expectations. Based on their response, the program was finalized. (Here I must thank Prof. Barbara Gastel for her useful suggestions to make this event effective.)
  2. At the beginning of the first day, a survey of the participants was conducted. It revealed that they had varied levels of experience in research presentation and paper writing. So, the event was transformed into an interactive one so that all participants could benefit from it.
  3. As the event was made interactive, no handouts were distributed, and no formal presentations were made as usually done in a training session. Instead, resources on presentation preparation and paper writing available on the AuthorAID website were introduced for further, in-depth consultation.
  4. In the group work, 1 of 3 different papers was given to each group (consisting of 4 or 5 participants). These papers were on i) tips to make research papers interesting, ii) issues surrounding authorship disputes and ways to resolve them, and iii) linguistic challenges faced by non-native-English-speaking authors. Each group discussed the paper and prepared a PowerPoint presentation in just a couple of hours. All the members of a group jointly gave their presentation within the allocated 10 minutes. This group work and presentation gave the participants a chance to learn some important aspects of writing and publishing research papers.
  5. At the end of the program, each participant made a “New Year’s resolution” and wrote it in a letter to herself or himself. The resolutions were about doing certain things over the next 3 months in the light of discussions at this workshop. We hope it will be a pleasant surprise for the participants when they get these letters in April—a part of the follow-up of their promises!

Before I close, I must admit, I did enjoy immensely designing, facilitating, and being a part of this event!

Dr. Haseeb Md. Irfanullah, a botanist by education, is currently working with the Bangladesh Country Office of Practical Action (a UK-based charity). His personal interest lies with scientific communications, which has involved him in different capacities with the Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy and a few other esteemed journals. He is available at hmirfanullah@yahoo.co.uk.


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