[IRTalk] Science & Science Funding in Africa

Ina Smith Ina at assaf.org.za
Wed Nov 21 19:50:17 SAST 2018

Africa's science 'millionaires': survey spotlights top-funded researchers<https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07418-6>

Africa's research funding system has created few winners: only 2% or so of scientists from just a handful of countries and fields report receiving million-dollar grants, while almost half say they don't receive any research funding.

The big grants tend to be in fields favoured by foreign funders, such as agriculture and health sciences. That's because most research in Africa is still financed by agencies based in Europe, the United States and China, says a report published on 6 November, called The Next Generation of Scientists in Africa<http://www.africanminds.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/AM-The-Next-Generation-of-Scientists-in-Africa-TEXT-WEB-11112018-1.pdf>.

The report is based on a four-year international study jointly funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung foundation in Germany, and the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.

How can young scientists in Africa become research leaders?<http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6076>

In a research arena where competition for funding is increasingly fierce, young scientists battle to succeed when it comes to applying for research funding. "They often do not meet funders' formal requirements and lack the tacit skills needed to succeed at grant writing", Professor Prozesky explains. "As a result, they spend considerable chunks of time on writing proposals that turn out to be unsuccessful, which is very discouraging and further eats away at time they could have spent on research." The book recommends new funding models and calls for more training in proposals writing, as well as more constructive feedback on unsuccessful proposals than exist now. "If we can get this right, funding applications that are unsuccessful at first, will become a learning opportunity, instead of an outright rejection."

Another uphill and stressful battle for young scientists in Africa is the pressure to get their research published in quality journals. Several problems may result from this situation, including low quality articles, the temptation to publish in "predatory" journals and scientists who don't see any benefit in undertaking research that is creative or focused on local societal impact.

"Young researchers need help to identify appropriate journals and they need constructive feedback that can help them improve their research papers, instead of outright rejections," Professor Prozesky said.

When young scientists become internationally mobile, it helps them to overcome many of the challenges we have identified, Professor Prozesky adds.

Ina Smith
Project Manager: African Open Science Platform<http://africanopenscience.org.za/>
Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
DOAJ Ambassador, Southern Africa Region<https://blog.doaj.org/2016/09/07/the-doaj-ambassadors-biographies/>
LIASA Librarian of the Year 2016<https://loy2016blog.wordpress.com/>

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