Africa Methods Excellence Initiative

STRATEGIC CONCEPT

Sub-saharan Africa faces a double challenge: there is altogether a rather limited offer of local PhD-level methodological training in Africa, as well as a rather limited pool of African scholars with state-of-the art experience in delivering such training. Consequently, many PhD students have to muddle through for the methods-related part of their research, and research outputs by early-career researchers frequently fail to meet methodological standards and cannot reach international publication outlets.

The overarching goal of the Africa Methods Excellence Initiative is to structurally contribute to (1) the scaling up of the methodological competences of African PhD researchers so that they produce and publish sharper research, and (2) to the reinforcement of the capacities of PhD-level methods teachers across Africa. The Initiative has broad disciplinary scope: across human sciences broadly defined, i.e. disciplines that study the social, behavioral, biological, cultural and philosophical aspects of human life. The Initiative aims at a double impact: (1) enabling early-career researchers to gain access to international publication outlets; (2) enabling them to produce more robust research results with stronger societal impact (transfer of key results).

The Africa Methods Excellence Initiative is designed to bring further support to current local, national and regional institutional efforts across Africa, in particular via Graduate Schools and  Centres/Clusters of Excellence. 

UPCOMING EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

The Africa Methods Excellence Initiative is preparing a number of linked events and activities, among which (non-limitative list):

  • Involvement of African Scholars and PhD researchers in the MethodsNET Communities, and in particular the Methods from/in/for the Global South and in the Research Methods Teaching ones.
  • In-person participation of African Scholars to the three MethodsNET launch events on 30 October-2 November 2024 in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; specific contributions of these scholars, highlighting methods developments and innovations produced in Africa and feeding a global North-South methods dialogue
  • Via the Research Methods Teaching Community: capacity-building activities for African methods teachers: access to specific PhD-level pedagogical resources and to online brownbag sessions on topics of specific interest for these scholars
  • Main in-person events: three recurring regional Methods Schools for Southern, East and West Africa, hosted respectively by the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, RSA) the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (Arusha, Tanzania), and the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (Dakar, Senegal). Each event will offer in-person PhD-level specialized courses across diverse qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as short modules on research skills and transversal methodological topics. These Schools will follow a co-teaching model involving both African and Global North instructors and local (post)doctoral tutors/teaching assistants. Target for the first edition of these events: 2025.
  • As fringe events during the regional Methods Schools: in-person capacity building activities and exchanges of good practices between African and Global North methods teachers

INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERS

The Africa Methods Excellence Initiative is co-produced by a broad global consortium of institutional partners:

  • MethodsNET, which acts as coordinating partner and oversees the further development of the whole Initiative
  • African institutions:
    • Three African higher education institutions, located respectively in Southern, East and West Africa, who will host recurring PhD-level regional Methods Schools as well as other linked training and capacity-building activities:
    • Other African institutional partners actively contributing to supporting the Initiative, [list: will be communicated soon]
    • Other Global South institutional partners actively contributing to supporting the Initiative [list: will be communicated soon]
  • Global North institutions:
    • The University of Louvain (UCLouvain), Belgium, as MethodsNET core sponsor partner institution. Via its International Support Fund (FAI) scheme, it has granted seed money (2023-2026) for inception activities and in particular for the launch of the Initiative. Several UCLouvain entities, including Research Institutes, are also supporting the Initiative. The ISPOLE Institute is directly contributing to the Initiative via administrative staff support.
    • Other Global North institutional partners actively contributing to supporting the Initiative, among which (initiating group):

Your institution is not yet involved? Here is how to join the Initiative as institutional partner.

HOW TO JOIN THE INITIATIVE?

To join the Africa Methods Excellence Initiative as a partner institution: simply reach out to us via info@methodsnet.org and we will take it from there. We expect each partner institution to contribute in concrete ways and to facilitate contacts with potential donors/sponsors (see below). The specifics of your contribution will be discussed and formalized via a concise Memorandum of Understanding.

You are based in Africa and you want to join MethodsNET as an individual, thereby being connected to the Africa Methods Excellence Initiative? Simply join us as individual member (we have very accessible conditions – even free of charge for some categories) or as subscriber.

HOW TO SUPPORT THE INITIATIVE?

Calling all visionary donors and sponsors! Are you ready to be a catalyst for transformative change in Africa? Your organization has the power to make a lasting impact and drive tangible outcomes by supporting our groundbreaking Initiative to launch regional Methods Schools and methods teaching capacity-building events in Africa.

As a “first mover” donor or sponsor, your commitment will be showcased, demonstrating your dedication to advancing research methodologies and empowering scholars across the continent. Join us in shaping the future of methodological education in Africa and be recognized as a pioneer in driving positive change.

To learn more about how you can support this Initiative and make a meaningful difference, reach out to Prof. Benoît Rihoux, MethodsNET Chair, directly at benoit@methodsnet.org . We’ll provide you with detailed information on the Initiative’s cost structure and work together to ensure your financial support is allocated effectively to maximize impact.

Together, let’s unlock the potential of African scholars and elevate methodological excellence on a global scale. Your support will be instrumental in creating a brighter future for research and innovation in Africa. Get in touch today and be part of this major initiative.