Capacity building project through the training of trainers in West Africa.
In both Northern and Southern countries, the most widely used indicators of a successful scientific career rely upon both a steady rate of publication in peer-reviewed impact factor journals and success in securing competitive grants to finance their projects. As for higher education, teachers are also expected to handle long teaching hours and large student cohorts, sometimes without having been provided with basic training in teaching techniques (especially at the onset of their career). The concepts of scientific rigor, integrity and impartiality are central to research positions and, while recent scandals have highlighted the devastating consequences of breaches to these principles, their integration to training needs to be improved.
In the North, such skills may be acquired in the course of the PhD or as part of vocational training of staff members, but teachers and research scientists from the South do not always have access to those. This problem is even more pregnant in the West African context, where the scarcity of domestic fundings makes on-the-job training through successive trials and errors all the more costly.
The MooSciTIC project aims to develop the capacities of our researchers and teachers colleagues from West Africa through the training of trainers, provided as part of a summer school. The main objective is to help them improve their practices and increase their self-reliance in different aspects of their work. In concrete terms, this training will enable participants to:
- manage and optimize literature search and mining through the use of dedicated search engines and softwares;
- enhance the clarity and consistency of their scientific publications (research articles, posters and oral communications) as well as their publication efficiency and visibility;
- optimize their success rate when applying to calls for projects through avoiding the most common pitfalls associated with call targeting and project development;
- be more efficient at managing their contribution to a project or that of their collaborators while ensuring that objectives are met in a timely fashion;
- improve their overall teaching practices and acquaint themselves with interactive teaching methods;
- educate themselves regarding current international standards of research integrity with respect to scientific conduct, publication and evaluation.
The MooSciTIC project capitalizes upon the multiplying effect induced by the selection of candidates from the whole West African sub-region and peer-to-peer transmission of the training within the different institutions. This wider dissemination is further facilitated through the distribution of all teaching materials to the trainees under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license. Finally, the use of the training of trainers approach also allows to ensure the long-term viability of the outcomes of the projects through successive students cohorts.
Three training sessions have taken place on the Université d'Abomey-Calavi's Champ de Foire campus (Cotonou, Benin) in 2016, 2017 and 2018, gathering over 75 scientists and teachers from 6 countries and fostering new and fruitful South-South and South-North collaborations.
Estelle Jaligot (CIRAD, UMR DIADE)
François Sabot (IRD, UMR DIADE)
Université d'Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, Benin
Université Nationale des Sciences, Technologies, Ingénierie et Mathématiques, Abomey, Benin
LMI PathoBios, Burkina Faso
LabEx Agro / Agropolis Fondation
This project is supported by Agropolis Fondation under the reference ID 1501-011 through the « Investissements d’Avenir » Programme (Labex Agro: ANR-10-LABX-0001-01).
A short video (in French, with English captions) from the Innovative Learning Support Centre from MUSE (Montpellier Université d'Excellence, Montpellier, France), referring to teaching tools described in Serrano A, Liebner J, Hines JK (2016) Cannibalism, Kuru, and Mad Cows: Prion Disease As a “Choose-Your-Own-Experiment” Case Study to Simulate Scientific Inquiry in Large Lectures. PLoS Biol 14: e1002351
A summary of our experience with the summer schools: Atindehou M, Adéoti K, Loko LEY, Beulé T, Paradis E, Djedatin G, Tranchant-Dubreuil C, Sabot F, Lagnika L & Jaligot E (2019). MooSciTIC: training of trainers in West African research and higher education. PLoS Biol 17, e3000312