The Community of Learning for Africa (COLA) is a platform that supports and stimulates research. COLA is developed to assist specifically young African PhD fellows in order to increase the quality of their research publications and support them to collaborate with other researchers and disseminate research outcomes in internationally used outlets. COLA builds a network of African PhD fellows, their supervisors and international researchers, working in the fields of Governance, Public Policy, Innovation, Technology and Economic Development.
COLA will introduce a wide range of research supporting activities, available free of charge to African PhD fellows. In a needs assessment undertaken among over 300 African PhD fellows, evidence was obtained that many African PhD researchers operate in a fairly isolated environment, lacking coursework, timely feedback, support in publishing in (international) journals and (access to) research network interactions. COLA is an online portal, which fosters the interaction of the international research community with African PhD fellows and their supervisors, thereby stimulating an open exchange between a wide range of actors in the general domains of Governance, Public Policy, Innovation, Technology and Economic Development. More specifically, COLA will be built on three main pillars:
- Online Training Modules in research design and content: The modules provide the means for members of all identified target groups to engage in collaborative learning activities, thereby expanding the knowledge and skills of all participants.
- Online Research Support: While young researchers (e.g. PhD fellows) have access to valuable expertise in their home institutes, they might sometimes be looking for additional guidance from (international) experts. This can range from occasional questions to more rigorous PhD research feedback. COLA will cater for these types of support by providing a portal where young researchers can communicate with international experts on an ongoing basis (via various communication channels).
- Repository of open access research resources: While there are many sources and resources available free of charge for researchers, they are not always known to PhD fellows. COLA does not aim to replace all those services. Instead, it will rather collate and narrate these services by constructing a growing repository of information and resources. These will include access to live video conferences, lectures, podcasts and other multimedia resources, access to databases and literature, software and software instructions, dissemination channels, and other relevant types of information.
University of Cape Town: Lawrence Edwards, PhD
University of Ghana: Annabella Opare-Henaku, PhD
University of Alberta: Bukola Salami, RN, MN, PhD
University of Alberta (Libraries): Margaret Law, MLS, MBA
Maastricht University: Mindel van de Laar, PhD
Maastricht University: Han Aarts