AuthorAID: A global network for early career researchers from low and middle-income countries
By Jennifer Chapin
Jennifer Chapin is Programme Manager, Research and Communications at INASP, an international development charity based in Oxford, UK. INASP works with a global network of partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia to support individuals and institutions to produce, share and use research and knowledge. Projects are running in 28 countries.
“…being an AuthorAID mentor goes beyond a conventional teacher-student relationship – it is a really stimulating and worthwhile learning process for both mentee and mentor”
Dan Korbel, UK
Researchers in the developing world have long been under-represented in published research. This is not a huge surprise. They face many of the same intense pressures to publish as academics in the UK, yet they lack access to the fundamental resources needed to communicate their research: information and training, writing support and mentorship. How can they manage the pressure of publishing rigorous scientific research and communicating findings in a way that meets publisher expectations?
In order to address some of these issues, the AuthorAID programme (www.authoraid.info) was launched in 2007 by the Oxford-based organisation INASP (www.inasp.info) to support researchers in low and middle-income countries to publish and communicate their work. It also serves as a wider global forum to discuss and disseminate research.
One of the cornerstones of AuthorAID is a popular online mentoring system (www.authoraid.info/en/mentoring) that allows volunteer mentors to use their crucial skills and experience to guide less experienced researchers through the challenges of publishing and communicating their research. Since the platform was set up in 2008, requests for mentoring assistance have intensified, and mentors are in demand. The platform is open to researchers from all subject areas and currently comprises almost 2,000 active mentors and mentees. Support is available in a number of languages, including English, French and Spanish.
The mentoring system helps pair together experienced mentors with researchers who need support at any stage of their writing project. It is easy to make contact with mentors or mentees: we have a ‘find a researcher’ search facility and our mentoring dashboard will automatically suggest suitable ‘matches’ based on subject and skills – rather like a dating website for researchers!
Fifteen of the most common types of support needed by new mentees include:
- Article planning
- Grant proposal development
- Language editing or proofreading support
- Career mentoring
- Theses and dissertation writing
- Literature reviews
- Study design
- Presentation planning
- Responding to peer review
- Publication ethics
- Technical reports
- Dealing with the publishing process
Over the years, AuthorAID has amplified its scope to provide support to researchers in a number of other ways:
- One primary aim is to embed research writing skills training in universities and research institutes, with the objective of building local training capacity face-to-face and online. We are currently working with ten partners in four countries: Ghana, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
- In recent years, AuthorAID has launched free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in research writing. So far, these courses have attracted over 2,800 researchers from 76 countries (www.authoraid.info/en/e-learning).
- Small grants to host workshops and travel to conferences are offered twice annually (www.authoraid.info/en/funding).
- Over the last year, AuthorAID has focused on supporting women in research to address gender inequalities they face in progressing in their careers. AuthorAID has recently produced a Gender Mainstreaming in Higher Education Toolkit (available online soon), which is hoped will be a valuable resource for universities and institutions tackling gender inequality in academia.
- AuthorAID also provides training materials and resources free of charge online. Resources are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish (www.authoraid.info/en/resources).
- An increasing number of our members also provide informal mentoring, advice and support by replying to questions about publishing on the Discussion Group, now numbering over 2,300 members.
Whether you’re an early career researcher in a developing country who could benefit from support and mentoring, an established academic with a strong track record who wants to give something back to the research community, or are just keen to get involved in some stimulating discussions, you can easily register now on the AuthorAID website at www.authoraid.info.
“My experience with AuthorAID has been great! Through the AuthorAID website, I met my mentor, a PhD student at the University of Michigan. She has been very dedicated in offering me guidance on how to improve my writing skills”
Rhoune Ochako, Kenya
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Reference this page
Jennifer Chapin (2016). AuthorAID: A global network for early career researchers from low and middle-income countries. Field Exchange 53, November 2016. p53. www.ennonline.net/fex/53/authoraid