HR&S Laboratory MANAGEMENT Support (FAST)
- Ensuring access to functioning advanced scientific equipment
- Generation, dissemination and implementation of scientific findings.
- Score high in the international comparison between scientific institution.
- Ensure a sustainable economy for the institution, without being dependent on aid support.
- Break the aid dependency mind-set.
Expect the partner to be self-sustained within five years and the run five years of equal partnership before we expect sustainable impact.
Lack of activities related to ensuring access to properly functioning equipment
Testimonies: Researcher often claim that “My outcome challenge is lack of equipment”. This testimony is stated by almost every researcher asked, who is involved with laboratory work. The SfC requests “What is the activity” the answer is “none”. Lesson learned, the challenge is not “Lack of equipment”, the challenge is lack of activities related to ensure access to properly functioning equipment. Follow up questions; why are you not engaging yourself with ensuring access to properly funtioning equipment? Everyone answers one or several of the following: “I do not know which piece of equipment I need”, “I do not have the funds”, “I do not have time”, “I do not know what to do to get involved with ensuring access to scientific equipment”.
Lack of activities related to ensuring access to training events
Testimonies: Researchers often claim that “My outcome challenge is lack of training events”. This testimony is stated by many researchers asked. The SfC requests “What is the activity” the answer is “none, or very little”. Lesson learned, the challenge is not “Lack of access to training events”, the challenges is “lack of activities related to providing access to training events”. Follow up questions; why are you not engaging yourself in activities related to providing access to training events? Everyone answers one or several of the following: “I do not know how to involve myself with enabling access to training events”, “I do not have funds for training events”. “I do not know where to apply”, “I do not have time”, “I do not consider it to be my responsibility to arrange training events”.
Responsibility for experimental work
Testimony by technician: “Often technicians do analysis and diagnostic and answers questions related to researchers problems. Researchers often depends on technical procedures and advice when come to methodology application. Technicians are the diagnostic team and advisers if procedural guidance to testing the samples.” Reflection by CEO: Actually, the availability of technicians in unfavourable when researchers are seeking research grants, the grant givers see that the real work is not done by the applicant. Sometime the technicians are not even mentioned in the publication. Imagine the researcher presents her/his work in a conference, and someone asks about the experimental section, and the researcher cannot answer, while the technician is not mentioned among the authors. That will be an embarrassment to the researcher.
Testimony: “I feel I will have better and timely studies at another university. You see a lot goes on at our department and certain things are better not told to people of integrity like you. I would like to have a role that would result in well managed purchase of chemical … etc so that I can progress with my PhD. The research funds provided to us are not enough but are sufficient if used for the intended use…. how recruitment is done and how and if chemicals are bought, but other aspects are also important. It would help so much if the waste of resources and deliberate delays are dealt with. It is unfortunately a weakness on our side. I have been silenced and cannot talk seriously in the meetings again. A leader told me something I feel is so embarrassing to tell you; activity in the meetings and partnership activities is interpreted as being a spy for you. When prof Cecilia interrogates a group leader about things not done well, then the active person in the group is communicating with Cecilia about what goes on at the department. We cannot task a donor to provide funds, recruit, buy chemical, teach people to be honest and result oriented, teach people why meetings and contributions in them are for the common good etc, that would be like telling the donor to transfer their offices to universities being helped. I pray we will try to do things well. We have visited serious groups abroad and liked their ways. Unfortunately we fail to emulate them. We have to continue the struggle for the group back at my university.”
Lesson learned: Research funds are sometimes mismanaged. Local stakeholders may sometimes be expected to team-up against a funding partner.
Reflection by CEO: WHY are local stakeholders sometimes teaming-up against a funding partner? Do we have a joint understanding that Europe deserves to be met by in-accountability because Europe is rich as a result of Africa being poor; slave trade, colonial times and present unfair trade deals. I agree with that Europe is being rich because Africa is being poor, and can easily accept such accusations. Now, if we want to find ways to change this as fast as possible, general research and business investments will risk to fail.
Informed decision: Establish clear and measurable structures around recruitment of MSc and PhD students, as well as, around the purchase of chemicals. A very narrow scope for financial research and business investments, ensuring that the partners in Africa will not team-up turn against HR&S, but see the long-term value of accountability when working with HR&S. Also the other way around, find ways to prove that HR&S is an honest and trust-worthy partner with intrinsic motivation for a shift of paradigm.
Aid dependency – lack of institutional management
“We are totally dependent on aid institutions, either empower in the wrong way or dis-empowered.” “While the sponsor is there the receiver do not try to arrange with own funds and own solutions.”m“There is a problem among us Africans with responsibility. That is the reason for lack of accountability.”
“We Africans do not know how to manage an institution, if we did then some problems would be avoided.” “Sometimes the institution has very bad systems, so that it is really difficult to be accountable. The many layers of bureaucracy, creates a problem with that we do not know who is responsible for things that has happened.” “If someone is really serious and really trying, they get frustrated by the bureaucracy, which makes it impossible to excel in actual practice” “Let us say that some one is placing an order, and that order passes through the institutional system, then maybe the wrong items shows up. If it happens there is no one to make accountable for the mistake.”
“What I have seen in Europe is that the government is more interested in the results from the Universities, lack of interest by the government as in African countries can dis-encourage the researchers.” “In Europe they share ideas, but in Africa there is a hierarchy instead. The high level may take decision that we do not agree on. People do not tell what they want when in meetings with high level people.” “In a meeting everyone was agreeing with the leader, but after the meeting when the leader had left, all other participants n the meeting said they will actually not do what has been agreed on.” “When people come back from studies abroad they come with high ambitions, but after two years they give up, because the environment is too challenging.” “Lack of reporting in Africa, even in the government there is lack of reporting. This results in that people do not know what is actually happening. If there would be reporting, then survey would be efficient. Even when for example the World Bank transfer funds they cannot make a proper survey of the impact, because there are no reports. To sort this our African Institutions need to have workshops to discuss progress or no progress.”
“We lack communication, people are often reluctant to share information because they are afraid that the idea they had will be stolen.”
“People work by themselves and do not want to share information, this also crates a distance between donors and target partner.”
“Most of the time we lack personal motivation, if someone do not earn money then the motivation is lacking.” “The salary for researchers in Europe is higher enabling the researchers to sustain their families. If we need to look for extra income, as in Africa, then we become less accountable. Especially if you are the only the person sustaining your family. Maybe someone needs to pay hospital or funeral costs, the person may want to borrow money urgently and intends to replace that money later, but replacing then maybe it is more difficult than expected.”
“If using money for something else than agreed on, donors in Europe is of the opinion that people have been steeling, and they feel cheated upon. Europe cannot comprehend this situation, that it can really bed bad like that so that people actually have such difficulties that they see no other alternative than to divert money. This is lack of understanding across cultures.” “In Europe we just have have to pay back, and if you do not pay back, you will have to pay more and more. This is imposed on Europeans through the country rule-of-law.” “Regarding the patronizing system, the system is so common in Europe that we do not reflect on it. A changed mind-set will require a lot of explanation.” “People in Europe want to help, but people are born into how to help in a patronizing way.” “We Europeans can make easily make mistakes and cause problems by imposing our ways on others.” “Also within Africa we have different cultures. For example in some places, girls should not go to school, they should focus on helping their husbands. The Europeans must show cross-cultural respect, to understand the differences.”
From the literature it can be concluded that 419 scams from Africa towards foreigners is increasing significantly. Scamming mzungus has become a billion dollar industry, annually.
This is a relevant topic for our research management programes for two reasons:
i) Out institutions will be attacked by 419 scams, and
ii) scammers will reach out to our proramme as a shortcut to foreign funds for their own benefit, but without doing exactly the 419 scam, but by seeking support that they do not intended to invest according to agreements or interact in other ways.
Presented by HR&S – Training & Coaching by HR&S
Empower Institution management to establish firm scientific capacity strengthening packages.
- Offer a 10 h training and examination on SfC
(5+1 x 2 h zoom training over two weeks).
- Offer coaching with monthly zoom meetings.
Address that each researcher shall have access to tuition fees, computer, quality internet, reference software, scientific equipment, laboratory consumables, transportation to fieldsite, mentorship, child care services. Support also the technicians to be able to deliver.
Literature review: Establish a link and facilitate communication between librarians and researchers. Encourage workshops by the librarians for the researchers and technicians on increased access to literature.
AuthorAID resources: how to apply for grants, awareness about predatory journals, scientific writing, mentorship.
INASP resources: free access to scientific papers.
Empower technicians: Empower also the procurement, service and maintenance procedures for scientific equipment as well as the technicians to ensure access to functioning advanced scientific equipment.
- Ensure the blessing by and formal approal from the Vice-Chancellor of the scientific institution.
- Offer a 10 h training and examination on SfC
Offer training to technicians, paid for by the Institution management.
Monthly zoom meetings with the FAST network, invite HR&S expert advisers.
The evaluation planning of the Research management programmes follow the Real-time Outcome Planning & Evaluation (ROPE) strategy. A new ROPE programme starts with setting a goal and to develop indicators to measure results. Then we develop an implementation plan, we secure finances, staff, and infrastructure, then we ensure knowledge sharing, the accounting procedures and the cross-cultural understanding. Then we make an activity plan and assign to people and institutions; who will do what, how and when. Now we implement, and after we measure the results and analyse. Thereafter we complement with what did not go well until we reach the goal we set up in the beginning. HR&S offers to coach through the procedures.
We only work in areas identified by our local partners, and besides programme design and implementation coaching, HR&S contributes with expert advice on the scope of the programme, international state-of-the art knowledge, facilitation of accounting and auditing, cross-cultural understanding, monitoring and evaluation as well as start-up loans. The ROPE practical strategy is useful for the implementation of development programme management, scientific research management, laboratory management. The ROPE strategy is likewise useful for scaling small activities to profitable social enterprises.
Quality scientific research depend on a sustainable economy. This can be achieved through i) professional and continuous research grant seeking and publication of scientific findings, and ii) by interacting with the non-academic sector to implement scientific results through social enterprising and take on new research assignments that are paid for.
Coordinate with Partner Institutions:
Raise awarenes around Cross-cultural respect
Sharing knowledge about cross-cultural respect.
Milestone: ActionTalks. Progress marker: xxx
Milestone: Webinar, 2h per day, 10 days. Progress marker: xxx
Milestone: Sharing the personal stories by the RISE team when they deal with our Target partners. Share this on social media, discuss. Progress marker: xxx
Milestone: Each RISE Centre can make a survey according a pre-prepared template. This will also share about differences. And then we publish. Progress marker: xxx
Scientific Institution Evaluation Planning
Milestone: Provide paid-for training and coaching on the HR&S Strategy for Change (and ROPE) to Institution managements. Progress marker: xxx
Milestone: Ensure the development of policy-briefs withing scientific institutions to facilitate the communication with the Government. Progress marker: xxx
Milestone: Transparency and accountability
- Research funds given to institutions with weak accountability structures must be made well-known. The institution and department management must know exactly how the institution and department will be benefit, also all researcher who shall benefit must be aware of exactly how the shall benefit, so that if funds are diverted the stake-holders will notice and they will know that they suffer.
- All financial data, reports, auditing reports and management responses must be transparent for the the institution management, department management and the researchers expected to benefit.
- Platforms to communicate and discuss the scientific environment must be made available, for example Strategy for Change webinars with HR&S.
Presented by HR&S
Reach out to institution managements (proposed): The success of a researcher is dependent on the scientific infrastructure of the scientific institution, that the institution ensures and enabling environment for the researchers. Network members identify individuals at the institution management, that HR&S can and will contact with an email, explaining that we offer training and coaching on the SfC to help empower the scientific capacity strengthening procedures at the institution, targeting a increased delivery of scientific findings, higher ranking of the university and a sustainable economy. Cecilia prepares the message and Millicent and Stépahnie compiles the list of names, affiliation, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Lean model reach out: Do persona research, send a message, follow up on the message.
Ensure that we benefit from resources available (proposed): The team of operations investigate the resources provided by AuthorAid and INASP and make a plan for how to benefit from these resources in an efficient manner.
There is no financial fee to be part of the network but everyone has to provide work-hours and attend to milestones, both the operational team and members. HR&S expert advisers may offer annual training on scientific related matters, participants pay EUR 10.
Fundraising activities: Develop and manage monthly or bimonthly fundraising committees that meets regularly with effective and efficient meeting agendas. Committee members shares assignments, shares knowledge and support each other in developing research grant applications. PP Awareness raising on research grant application review criteria and the mandate of grant institutions (not aid institutions).
Ensure access to properly functioning equipment: Link key stakeholders to the Laboratory management programme.
Providing access to training events: Change mind-set from expecting training events to enabling training events.
Annual training on the scientific method: Reach out to scientific institutions with an SfC plan that results in that the institution ensures training on the scientific method. HR&S can provide training of trainers at a cost.
Accountability*: We need to measure accountability in parallel with scientific matters withing research aid programmes.
- Present the criteria for how to select the supported researchers and exactly who where selected and why, per person.
- Supported researchers must submit two manuscripts per year and publish one paper per year. Present structures for how to manage the reply to reviews.
The budget must reflect address all outcome challenges related to submitting two manuscripts and publishing one paper. If they do not reach this progress marker the researcher her/himself must explain why, with signatures.
- Demand well defined justification for the budget items and then use those as progress markers. The receivers of research aid grants must present how they meet progress markers in annual programme reports. If they do not reach this progress marker the research leaders must explain why, each with signatures.
- Present structures for how to ensure that supported researchers have access to chemicals.
- Present structures for how to ensure that supported researchers have access to scientific literature.
- Present structures for how to ensure that supported researchers have access to supervisors.
- Present structures for how to ensure service and maintenance of pieces of equipment.
- Annual auditing of financial reports, with management reports.
- Ensure enough reviewers from the region of the receivers of support that understands the local system very well.
- Ensure that the strive for gender equality is not used by men to get favours from women.
Strengthened scientific capacity
Reflection CEO: It seems the scientific capacity at SSA scientific institutions will not be strengthened through dedicated research grants, free training events, paid for pieces of equipment and consumables, equipment repair, library support or IT support.
Informed decision: HR&S will address the implementation of Progress Markers at Institution management and ministry level instead.
All HR&S supported members show up at almost every meeting, and if they do not there is a good reason why.
It is very clear who belongs to the team, what their ambitions are and how they benefit from HR&S, on an individual basis.
They have benefited from the HR&S support to ensure they all have good internet and good computers to attend the meeting also with camera.
The team-leader has an agenda for the meeting and is taking notes, which is shared.
The team-leader invites through own zoom-channel.
Everyone agrees and manages to submit two papers per year to high level journals.
They have their own well organised meetings in between the monthly HR&S meetings where they work and bring up topics related to the monthly HR&S meetings.
Their financial reports are in good order. They benefit from the HR&S support to ensure that the equipment they need is maintained and chemicals and consumables are available.
They benefit from AuthorAid and INASP to the highest level possible.
They do not invest time in excuses.
They have intrinsic motivation.
They have also benefited from the HR&S support and have access to all literature databases for free. They have developed a good working relation with the librarians and get support to do efficient literature reviews.
Invitation from the team-leader, inviting the team to the monthly meeting next week, explaining the agenda, and with their own zoom link.
Ensured their own zoom account, so that it is easy for them to always meet on-line.
Everything brought to the monthly HR&S meetings are implemented and the team and team-leaders ensures that the team will benefit as much as possible.
The difference between successful research team (submitting many papers to journals with high impact factor) and less successful, is not the amount of money donated, it is the intrinsic motivation.
The team benefit from the monthly meeting to develop a powerful SfC and thereby scientific capacity strengthening procedures.
This is the obvious procedures. IF we want to be successful in research.
Why not? Why would anyone want to fight against an opportunity?