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IRIC-ECRU making a difference among PhD students and UCU staff

Uganda Christian University (UCU) is involved in the inter-University Research and Innovation Community for the Early Career Researchers (IRIC-ECRU); a 5-year project aimed at building an interdisciplinary research community of PhD students and early career researches from across institutions in Uganda.

Run by a team of inter-institutional investigators, the project was designed to:

  1. Build researcher capacity of PhD students and ECRs.
  2. Build a soft infrastructure for data & information management & sharing among the community members and beyond.
  3. Enable technology-empowered research outputs dissemination, and
  4. Facilitate researcher to society engagement and impact.

The project is concluding its first year with a number of UCU academic staff, administrators and students having participated and connected into the research community.

Notable participation includes that of:

  1. Assoc. Prof. Kukunda Elizabeth Bacwayo, Dean School of Research and Postgraduate Studies. Assoc. Prof. Bacwayo is a Co-Investigator on the project.
  2. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi. Prof. Mushengyezi, The Vice Chancellor. Prof. Mushengyezi has been involved in IRIC-ECRU in his capacity as the leader of and Institutional partner (UCU). He has participated in several interviews about UCU research agenda and the possibilities that interuniversity networking offer in building up research communities.
  3. Assoc. Prof. Peter Ubomba-Jaswa, Head of Research, Grants and Publications. Assoc. Prof Ubomba-Jaswa has been involved in discussion around UCU research focus on children and how this can be integrated in IRIC-ECRU Research agenda.
  4. Rev. Dr. John Kitayimbwa. Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs). Dr. Kitayimbwa was the guest of honor at IRIC-ECRU workshop 2 closing ceremony. The 5 days’ workshop covered topics around Open Science for Research. Dr. Kitayimbwa is also a contact person for RENU/IRIC-ECRU collaboration. 
  5. Mr. David Bukenya. Acting University Librarian Mr. Bukenya is a member of IRIC-ECRU technical committee that is working towards developing an interuniversity infrastructure for data and information management and sharing.
  6. Mr. Dickson Tumuramye, Project Manager. Mr. Tumuramye works in the School of Research and Postgraduate Studies. He is also the Project Manager of IRIC-ECRU and coordinates the activities the project.

The project has so far run 7 seminars and two Co-Creation workshops towards research capacity building. The UCU community has benefited from these activities in various ways including collaboration among researchers from the 3 partner institutions (Makerere, MUST and MRU) and other local and international universities. The UCU researchers who participated in the writing co-creation workshops were able to improve their PhD proposals and  used the revised proposals to apply for funding.

Members of UCU community are also involved in writing literature review manuscripts on various topics relating to research and innovation in Uganda. The manuscripts are due for submission by June, 30th 2021.

IRIC-ECRU has analysed the research agendas of individuals, partner institutions and the national research focus to design the community’s research agenda. This was done through a survey and a public dialogue. IRIC-ECRU focuses on researcher development to support the institutional and national research agendas in a complementary manner. Read more…

The IRIC-ECRU investigators learnt that Institutional repository of UCU is defined as a collection of Masters and Doctoral theses and dissertations and journal articles submitted in electronic format.  The aim of the Uganda Christian University Digital Institutional Repository (UCUDIR) is to collect, preserve and showcase the intellectual output of staff and students of UCU. The collection includes peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, working papers, theses, and more. This information is being used in making considerations for an interuniversity repository that supports collaboration beyond university silos and minimise duplication. Read more…

For greater impact, the second year of the project is being scaled up to involve more partners including government agencies and other higher institutions of learning.

Below are some of the comments from our staff who have directly participated in IRIC-ECRU activities;

“I met various categories of people/researchers from varying fields whom I hope to continue my engagement with to shape my research journey. Secondly, I learned that as researchers, it is vital that we embrace access to data with limited or no restrictions. That goes without mentioning the various aspects of open data quality. The other thing that caught my attention was on Data Licensing, the various levels of licensing, and the unlimited use of Open Data especially the simplicity in publishing results from such data. I had never heard about this. Moving forward, I am an ambassador to Open Data, its principles and Open Data Licensing.” said a workshop participant on open science in research.

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“I was so glad I attended in person, I had one on one sessions that helped me process my career goals with those that are older and wiser. The networking was such as incredible plus” one of the UCU participants on academic writing workshop.

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“When I completed a Master's degree in Development studies in 2002 and excited about the enlightenment, I looked forward to going for a Ph.D. However, I wanted to do it in Uganda and coming with a scholarship. I was mistaken, I was advised to try abroad for two reasons; First that scholarships are scarce, and secondly that the learning was unfriendly for a Ph.D. journey. I dared to beat the odds and enroll in a degree-awarding institution among the pioneer class 10 years after. My age could not attract scholarships and my gender roles could not work with travel abroad. I dared self-sponsorship and acquire world-class skills while studying at home. I can now testify that one can acquire world-class skills by doing Ph.D. at home complements NEMRA Programs.  NEMRA founded the IRIC ECRU Program for people like me who are determined to study in low-income countries. The most significant benefit I found was the writing skills acquired from the co-creation workshops. They helped me realize how to stretch ideas on paper. In another workshop I realized how to be visible on the web, and in another, I learned about resources available on metadata links, which I realise are available on websites! All these resources can be accessed while studying in a home country but I bet most graduate students know about it.

 Am now enrolled in the action learning sets the first group, where listening to each other as students is nurtured. It’s rare for graduate students to listen and make constructive comments meant to help each other thrive in academic endeavors. Besides, the colleagueship in NEMRA has enabled me to share my Ph.D. studies progress without fear of embarrassment. I can tell where I am and where I need to go. I am very grateful to IRIC ECRU Project.” A testimony by a PhD Student/Lecturer impacted by the project.

For more information about this project and valuable resources, please visit here

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