By: Shawna O’Hearn, Director Dalhousie Global Health
From June 24 to 28, 2019 Shawna O’Hearn and Dr. Noni MacDonald facilitated a writing workshop in Uganda. Shawna has prepared the following summary of their work together.
This research has motivated me to the point I cannot explain. Thanks a lot to all mentors for the
excellent teaching. I’m born again with science. (Workshop Participant, June 2019)
In 2017, the CUHAS* in Tanzania, MUST* in Uganda, and the University of Calgary obtained a research grant to develop qualitative research capacity at CUHAS and MUST under the Synergy Program. The program enhanced the work within an already funded five-year Canadian research project through ‘Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa’ in Tanzania and Uganda.
The format was modeled on lessons from MicroResearch (www.microresearch.ca) and each team was assigned a coach from the University of Calgary plus one from in country. There were four in person skills development workshops focusing on planning (protocol and tool design), data collection (facilitation), analysis (coding and use of Nvivo), and data interpretation (preparation of an abstract). Each workshop was facilitated over a week by 2-3 Canadian facilitators and local experts.
There were five teams who worked together on their data analysis and manuscript preparation for three months between workshops. The goal is that each team will submit one manuscript to a journal for publication. There were two teams from Uganda (MUST) and three from Tanzania (CUHAS). The teams covered topics aligned with the IDRC* proposal including male engagement, equity, adolescent health and scale up. Each group developed a research question around the topic area relevant to implementation of the larger “Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa” in Tanzania and Uganda.
We, Noni MacDonald and Shawna O’Hearn, were invited by University of Calgary to lead a one-week academic writing bootcamp as the final workshop for this project. It was the first time for us to offer this type of workshop. On the first day, each team introduced their research question and identified their main finding, target audience(s) and three journals to consider for submission of their manuscript. A challenging piece of working in teams is identifying authors and acknowledgements based on the ICJME guidelines. After participants completed this activity, they worked on the methods section in the manuscript.
We also shared Dalhousie Global Health’s experience and success of creating writing communities and the effectiveness of using the Pomodoro technique. The teams were already identifying how to formalize writing communities for their work. On the last day, each team presented their manuscript status and received feedback to move forward.
It was a fast week filled with important discussions about strengthening health research for the Ugandan and Tanzanian teams. We are excited to read the published work as they will have a significant impact on health service delivery and MNCH* in East Africa. Stay tuned…. we will keep you posted when publications are available and when we do the next academic writing bootcamp!
*Catholic University of Health Allied Sciences (CUHAS)
*Mbarara University of Science Technology (MUST)
*International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
*Maternal and Child Health (MNCH)
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