IFRA research training workshops: Research Methodology and the craft of academic writing and publication
On Thursday, 12th & Friday 13th of April, 2018, an IFRA delegation was the guest of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria. Until recently, the Institute for Development, Research and Training (IDR&T) of ABU was hosting one of the two headquarters of IFRA in Nigeria. Therefore, we have enjoyed a strong and longstanding relationship with this university and it is a pleasure to contribute to restore and strengthen our ties. IFRA, accompanied by the Higher Education Attaché of the French embassy Prof. Leila Matthieu, was welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor of the University Prof. Ibrahim Garba, the Director of the IDR&T Professor Hudu. A. Ayuba and other distinguished personalities of the academic life in Zaria to discuss opportunities of collaborations.
At this occasion, we were also delighted to organise two research training seminars with Dr. Vincent Hiribarren, lecturer in Modern African History at King’s College London who was our gest at the University of Ibadan earlier the same week. The general purpose of the workshops at ABU was to provide junior scholars with methodological tools for research and academic writing. They were open to Master and PhD students of ABU and as many as 55 participants attended the programme. Their background varied significantly: economics, public administration, history, political sciences, among many others.
Thursday workshop was split into three parts. Firstly, Dr. Hiribarren focused on sources in social sciences research. Drawing on his work on the history of Borno, he debated with the participants the challenges of the collection and analysis of archival materials, as exemplified by the Diwan (royal chronicle) of the Kanem Borno or ancients local maps. Secondly, Dr. Hiribarren discussed academic referencing and bibliography. He taught students how to cite adequately in academic essays and papers, how to avoid plagiarism and how to create a good bibliography/reference list. Ismaël Maazaz, IFRA research associate, introduced Zotero, a free and easy-to-use bibliography management software that can help students with quoting and generate bibliographies. Finally, Dr. Hiribarren turned to academic publishing. He detailed the processes of writing and submitting articles to academic journals. Nowadays, most academic journals peer-review the submitted articles and request further editing. Dr. Hiribarren explained how to take into account the journal reviews to improve a submitted article. It was a good introduction to the next workshop.
Indeed, Friday workshop led Dr. Hiribarren to supervise an interesting academic exercise based on his article “A European and African Joint-Venture. The Production of Colonial Knowledge in Borno, Nigeria (1902-1950)”, published in 2013 in History of Africa. The article deals with the writing of official histories of the region of Borno as a collaboration between colonial authorities and local elites.
The initial, submitted version of this article was circulated among the participants prior to the workshop. Participants read and analysed it critically and debated the content and formal aspects with Dr. Hiribarren. Then, the journal reviews after the first submitted version were given to the participants, who noted that many comments they made had been also addressed by the journal reviewers. Finally, participants read the published version of the article and could take stock of the edits made since the initial paper.
The discussions were very lively and participants enjoyed engaging with Dr. Hiribarren’s work. It was a very satisfactory experience for IFRA, the IDR&T and ABU.
Members of IFRA and IDR&T personalities after the programme
The Vice-Chancellor of ABU Zaria receiving personalities of the IDR&T, the IFRA delegation and the Higher Education Attaché of the French embassy
Dr. Hiribarren leading the Thursday workshop
A meeting organised by the director of the IDR&T with various Heads of departments
Workshop participants working on the paper review exercise