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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Embrace collaboration, mentorship to win grants–-Experts urge academics


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Some distinguished scholars and consistent research grants winners have assured members of the academia and researchers that grants can be easily accessed as soon as collaboration, mentorship, and ethical research practices are embraced.

This was the submission of the scholars who spoke at the pre-conference workshop of the maiden KU8 Consortium International Conference held at the Main Auditorium of the University of Ilorin last Monday (August 7, 2023).

Presenting a paper titled “Grantsmanship: Ethics and Best Practices”, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Abdulkareem Ambali
Saka, explained that grant writing can be improved through consistent dedication, collaboration and mentoring.

Prof. Saka stressed that the journey to improved grant writing lies in dedication and cooperation with fellow investigators, willingness to mentor and be mentored as well as the cultivation of a collaborative mindset.

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Highlighting the significance of adhering to the requisites of grant agencies, Prof. Saka emphasised that every agency has its distinct formats and interests. He tressed that scholars must align their proposals with these specifications to deliver value for the funding provided.

“Rules must be adhered to at all times,” he asserted.

While acknowledging the challenges in various academic disciplines, Prof. Saka encouraged scholars in the humanities not to be discouraged. He urged them to rise to the occasion, saying that despite the competition, there are numerous grants available for those willing to put in the needed efforts.

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Prof. Saka also urged all researchers to conduct their studies with respect for the rights and dignity of those involved.

Whether dealing with human subjects or sensitive topics, he reminded researchers to strictly follow the ethical guidelines. He advised that potential harm arising from research must be handled with utmost care and caution, adding that the safety and well-being of participants must be the paramount concern.

While commenting on the pivotal role of mentoring in the realm of grantsmanship, Prof. Saka described mentoring as a process of transferring skills, knowledge, and strategic insights from mentors to mentees. He, however, said positive attitude towards mentorship opens doors to invaluable connections and networks.

Turning attention to research budgets, Prof. Saka stated that budgets must be meticulously aligned with the research methodology, and justifications must be offered wherever necessary. He noted that budgets should fall within the limits advertised by funding agencies to remain eligible for participation.

In another presentation, the Vice Chancellor of Summit University, Offa, Prof. Abiodun Musa Aibinu, who spoke on the topic “Strategies for Winning Research Grants”, highlighted the attributes expected of researchers to secure funding for their projects.

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Prof. Aibinu, who has won several grants, explained that to excel in acquiring grants, researchers needed to exhibit proactive behaviours, meticulous planning, persistent efforts, and persuasive communication skills. According to him, grants are not mere handouts but they are awarded to studies that exhibit scientific rigour and promising impactful outcomes.

Prof. Aibinu who was represented by the Director, Center for Artificial Intelligence, Kwara State University, Malete (KWASU), Dr Abdulwaheed Musa, urged fellow academics not to let their visions become obscured by the challenges encountered along the way as he advocated proactive measures to ensure that research projects meet the stringent criteria set by funding bodies.

Highlighting the criteria that studies must fulfill to be grant-worthy, Prof. Aibinu stated that a study which requires grant support must address a significant problem, with the potentials to advance scientific knowledge; must contribute to the expansion or enhancement of existing knowledge while also being feasible to execute and investigate.

While speaking on the need to acquire requisite skills to win grants, the Professor of Mechatronics Engineering encouraged researchers to recognize that crafting compelling grant applications, developing standard operating protocols, and creating manuals of procedures that gain approval are all learned abilities.

Similarly, he stressed that crafting manuscripts that earn publication in peerreviewed journals is also a skill that can be honed through learning and practice.

While describing grantsmanship as a full-time occupation, Prof. Aibinu underscored the importance of understanding the details of the grant application process. He urged researchers to invest time and effort into comprehending the nuances of grant acquisition to maximize their chances of success.

Collaboration, Prof. Aibinu insisted, is a linchpin of effective grantsmanship. He encouraged researchers to collaborate with other investigators, leveraging their expertise to address gaps in their own knowledge and training.

By fostering collaborations, he believed researchers can enhance the overall quality and scope of their projects, leading to more comprehensive and impactful outcomes.

Written by Tajuden Babamale

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