The training was an opportunity for the students from four different universities and regions in Ghana to share experiences and form a support network to advance their studies.
Doctoral students from various universities across Ghana have completed a research methodology masterclass where they gained cutting-edge knowledge and skills, valuable in strengthening their methodological grounding and advancing their PhD journey. The Research School on Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction – a collaboration between ISSER, the School of Research and Graduate Studies of the University of Ghana, and the universities of Lund, Gothenburg, and Uppsala — aims to contribute to the delivery of high-quality and boundary-crossing doctoral research in sustainable development, poverty reduction, and other identified areas.
The 18 competitively selected learners comprised early-stage doctoral students from the University of Ghana (UG), SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD UBIDS), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
They underwent four days of intensive training comprising classroom learning, group assignments, and practical sessions. The taught sessions spanned a range of carefully curated topics – such as reflections on quantitative methodologies and sustainable development goals, philosophical underpinnings of qualitative methods, research design, and field instrument development – taught alongside insightful hands-on sessions, thus helping the students garner a deeper theoretical and practical understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Promoting development research through tailored world-class training
Delivered by four experienced researchers, Prof. Akosua Darkwa (Department of Sociology, University of Ghana), Dr. Fred Dzanku, Dr. Kofi Takyi Asante, and Dr. Dzifa Torvikey, all from ISSER, the training also sought to orient the students on how to make informed methodological choices that would ease and advance their research work.
Commenting on their motivation for organising the programme, Dr. Torvikey said, “We are driven by a passion to nurture the research skills of budding Ghanaian and African social science researchers and see them excel. We want to see them make informed choices right from the start and position them on the path toward successful research careers.”
A testament to the programme's focus on providing rounded training, the timetable combined deep theoretical learning with experiential exercises, including a half-day study visit to the Dome Market located in the Ga East Municipality. The visit was designed to give the students an opportunity to apply the methodological training they had received and it allowed them to understand the structures, processes, and actors that kept the market running.
Group presentations on the last day of the training provided the enthusiastic learners the opportunity to demonstrate learning. Working in groups on a research question for which they had collected data the previous day, they gave presentations and received valuable feedback from the facilitators and their peers.
Reflecting on the students' impressive presentations and overall delivery, Dr. Dzanku said, “One of the rewarding aspects of this training was being able to contribute, alongside my co-facilitators, to addressing this enthusiastic group of learners' thirst for knowledge.”
“I am truly happy to have been part of this process and to witness the insightful exchange of ideas and learning that has taken place. Personally, I have also learned a lot from the students and look forward to sharing in their success stories.”
While the formal academic learning element was at the forefront, an aspect that made the training memorable for the students was the opportunity to meet like-minded peers and build new relationships and networks helpful in advancing and enriching their doctoral education experience. Another was the rare chance to hear and glean inspiration from the personal anecdotes of the facilitators who recounted lessons and victories from their own Ph.D. journeys.
Reflections from some of the happy learners
The students were keen to share their reflections on the school, amidst calls for extending the programme to benefit more doctoral students.
Suglo-Konbo Ibrahim a second-year Ph.D. student at ISSER shared, “The Research School has been very educative, interactive, and practical. The discussions have challenged me to unlearn, learn, and relearn a lot of things in quantitative and qualitative research methods. I look forward to integrating all the great ideas into my research. Personally, I’ve been challenged to look beyond the obvious in my research and elevate my standpoint beyond the usual rhetoric.”
“It will be great to expand the scope of the Research School to take on more applicants; I am convinced this is an experience every early researcher should have.”
Kennedy Atinga Atulley, a doctoral student at SDD UBIDS echoed Suglo-Konbo’s sentiments, saying, “The ISSER Research School on Sustainable Development has given me a deeper insight into the nuances of qualitative and quantitative research approaches. The thought-provoking delivery by the seasoned academics and the contributions of colleagues have been valuable in strengthening my research methodological knowledge and skills.”
“I recommend that the Institute extends this programme to benefit other Ph.D. students.”
Similarly, Eunice Naa Odarley Lamptey, a student at the Department of Land Economy of KNUST enthused, “This has been an insightful and informative journey. My key takeaway is that I must elevate my research to speak to the global academic debate, as advised by Prof. Akosua Darkwa, a learned professor who, like her co-facilitators, demonstrated her passion for helping doctoral students succeed.”
Keen to voice her appreciation for each of the facilitators, Eunice added, “Time with Dr. Dzanku was also exciting as he shared his rich expertise on quantitative methods and analysis. I’ve gained new perspectives on how to conduct an impact evaluation of programmes and interventions.”
“Dr. Takyi Asante, an affable, and seasoned researcher, played a vital role in all our activities, including the learning visit to the market. I found his intellectual interventions particularly enriching.”
“Dr. Torvikey always enlivened the rather serious academic lessons with her vivacious and inspiring nature, generously using her own Ph.D. studies in Ghana to encourage and imbue us with the can-do mentality,” she concluded.
Held from September 12th -15th, 2023 at ISSER, this year’s training is the second iteration of the Research School on Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction. The first session took place last year at Sogakope in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region, involving doctoral students from Ghana and other African countries.
Responding to questions on the possibility of organising research schools in the future, the team of facilitators shared that they are open to fostering collaborations that would enable them to sustain and extend the programme to benefit more doctoral students within and beyond Ghana.
For more information on the Research School on Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction, please, contact: