Fresh perspectives for social science researchers at April 2017 Professional Development Training

“The course opened up my professional horizon and gave me a new perspective about research. The facilitators are patient, understanding and caring. They readily help trainees to quickly comprehend the topics offered.” This was a testimonial by one of the participants at the end of the Professional Development Training Programme held in April, 2017  in Athi River, Kenya.

The Programme is an initiative of Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) aimed at fostering individual and institutional research capacity.  It involves designing and delivering high quality, experiential professional development content that builds policy actors’ and researchers’ skills and competencies. Furthermore, it enriches participants’ learning experience, and maximise impact and reach.

PASGR held a series of research design training sessions dubbed the Advanced Research Design for Policy Oriented Research (ARD) course. This course consisted of modules in Designing Social Inquiry, Critical Policy Engaged Research and Multi-Methods Research Strategies. The ARD was a compulsory and prerequisite course for participation in subsequent research methods sessions. Upon completing the ARD, participants had the opportunity to choose from Social Network Analysis, Survey Design and Execution, Action Research, and Comparative Case Study Analysis.

A total of 140 candidates submitted their applications to be considered for the limited 50 slots available for the programme. The successful applicants were chosen through a rigorous process of review of concept papers and applications submitted,  There was fair regional representation with participants drawn from Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Recognising the importance of gender representation within the programme, a proportion of 47% of the selected applicants were women. This was a demonstration of commitment to help improve gender imbalance within the social sciences.

The April 2017 training ended with a pilot of a Gender Sensitive Social Research Methods Module led by two gender experts from Africa. They introduced participants to gender-sensitive social science research methods and examined the importance of integrating gender in social science research. The vibrant discussions witnessed during the sessions culminated into the review of the course outline and content which will be introduced as a full module in the November 2017 training.