Writing successful research proposals-Africa edition

I did make an introductory remark on how to write a basic research proposal within the African set up for funds mean’t for African researchers managed by African scientists. The funds could go between 10,000USD for a year for early-career scientists to 300,000USD for seasoned academics who want to make an impact on the research community. It is sometimes depressing to read how some scientists in Universities in Africa are bored and stressed over “part-time” payments by their institutions. Such payments sometimes go for 600 USD per unit per semester for a degree programme. Which i believe cannot be compared with becoming a global researcher, working to offer your skills in addressing current problems persisting in the global south and at the end of the day being valued for their research contribution.

In my earlier posts which I will allude to before diving into the second phase, the few critical things I mentioned included;

1. The need to be thorough and transparent with what you want to study, I have read proposals from two different scientists on almost the same subject from the continent, and one scientist was quite open and articulate in addressing what she wanted to study, with facts and genuine support, which means she did the groundwork before writing, the difference with the second researchers proposal was like day and night.

2. It’s essential to have a good knowledge and literature of what you are studying and acknowledgement of such other studies show your integrity, and your ability to mention people before you who have contributed to the research field. Lacking the ability to say that you are standing on the shoulders of other giants does not reflect well with your writing and reviews.

3. It is critical and vital to be yourself, because as I mentioned earlier someone in the review committee, who might have been with you or participated in some work with you might know you and this will not go unnoticed in such a review, where initial genuineness is essential before anyone can trust you with a lot of funds, so don’t assume some nitty-gritty.

4. It is a death stab to plagiarise text among proposals and send them to the same organisation for funding. This is a big NO. Besides this it is disrespect to the committee sitting, that you can agree to plagiarise text and submit, and expect to receive funds. It sends  some signals about your integrity, institutions integrity and those that wrote reference letters for your application.

To finish up this topic, I would like to add some few notes.

Researchers in Africa need to learn to work with each other, since I work a lot in the Western Indian Ocean Region, researchers in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion Islands and South Africa, need to be able to come up with concepts that can be researched from a multicounty or multi-city level. Bearing in mind that this is where most of the significant funding institutions are heading towards.

The partnerships between researchers who are seasoned and the communities they represent, is another crucial issue, in essence, solutions-based research which has its own set of challenges needs the “heels down” approach by scientists. If your scientific research has an impact on a specific community, you need your heels in the villages to help understand the issues and use your skills to articulate the same to a more extensive research organisation and finally communicate the science back to them. These are sometimes quite evident in research proposals.

An politician once said you could read a document and identify the “spirit” of the letter, there is something about a genuinely well-orchestrated written proposal, readers and reviewers with some concentration can pick it up. Please know that when submitting the project, what is the spirit of the letter?