RITM and Germany’s Project BUKLOD caps off PH trainings with academic writing course
Participants of the Academic Writing for Qualitative, Quantitative, & Mixed-Methods Research Workshop during the first day of training, June 26, 2023.

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Heidelberg Institute for Global Health (HIGH), and University of Heidelberg’s collaborative research initiative, Project BUKLOD concluded its three-phase training series with the Academic Writing for Qualitative, Quantitative & Mixed-Methods Research workshop last June 26-30, 2023 at Tagaytay City, Cavite.

The training participants comprised of 22 early career researchers from RITM, De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, and Ilocos Training and Regional Hospital immersed in several lectures, practical exercises, and group discussions to strengthen their academic writing skills. The primary objective of the Academic Writing course was to serve as a mechanism to improve the current research manuscripts of the participants to eventually become ready for publication and dissemination.

Dr. Mark Donald Reñosa (right) providing feedback to participants’ insights on their respective research studies, during one of the interactive activities on Day 4, June 29, 2023.

Throughout the five-day course, participants comprehended the academic publishing process; selected target journals and followed appropriate authorship conventions; utilized referencing software; “headlined” introductions; developed and visualized tables and figures; explained their respective studies to other researchers; constructively critiqued other researchers’ manuscripts and titles; and applied several writing tips and tricks to refine wording and phrasing of their manuscripts.

Because of this academic writing course, I was guided on how to frame my introduction so that it would be more convincing to readers that my study still had added value. I also learned how to use tables and figures in my methods and results sections. I also learned how to frame my discussion section so that it will not just answer what my study adds to existing knowledge, but what the world should do now with these added information,” said training participant and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (DEBS) staff Ms. Bianca Joyce Sornillo on how the training has contributed to the improvement of her manuscript.

Dr. Kerry Scott (right) assisting one of the participants during a hands-on exercise on Day 1, June 26, 2023. 

Participants were mentored by global health scientist and Project BUKLOD co-Lead Dr. Shannon A. McMahon, social scientist and 2014 Emerging Voices for Global Health Fellow Dr. Kerry Scott, psychologist and medical anthropologist Jonas Wachinger, and 2022 Emerging Voices for Global Health Fellow and Project BUKLOD Lead Dr. Mark Donald Reñosa.

The next phase of Project BUKLOD will send three (3) early career researchers from RITM to HIGH in Germany for a learning exchange on qualitative research to be conducted from October to November 2023. Through the guidance of HIGH, the following researchers from DEBS shall refine their own studies for submission to funding authorities:

  • Ms. Jhoys Guevarra
  • Ms. Thea Andrea Bravo
  • Ms. Vivienne Endoma

The Academic Writing workshop culminates Project BUKLOD in the Philippines. Prior to this, Project BUKLOD conducted the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning training last February 20-21, 2023, and the Mixed-Methods Research course last June 19-23, 2023. In total, Project BUKLOD mentored a total of 92 local public health researchers and health professionals in the three (3) training courses conducted in the country.

A participant briefly explaining her research study to another participant and to one of the facilitators, Mr. Jonas Wachinger (center), during a knowledge sharing session on Day 4, June 29, 2023.

“The BUKLOD Project led us to really deepen the relationships that were there. We’ve been really fortunate to have research studies that were ongoing, but via BUKLOD we could extend our network…[I]t’s really been for us about deepening the links, not necessarily with the research output related to a particular study or project, but just a more comprehensive opportunity to share insights and learn from each other as scientists,” said Dr. McMahon on how the Project strengthened connections among researchers from RITM and HIGH.

Project BUKLOD (Bridging the gap, Upgrading the technical Know-hows and Leveraging research Outputs and its Dissemination within the Philippines and Germany) aims to forge a partnership between RITM and HIGH through strengthening of research capabilities of early career scientists in both institutions.

Dr. Shannon A. McMahon during one of the training’s final lectures on Day 5, June 30, 2023.

Through Project BUKLOD, RITM and HIGH expect to expand a network of researchers and scientists; allow research funding opportunities and discussions for health policies; and promote innovative techniques to address emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

’Buklod’ is a Filipino term that means to bind or reinforce existing collaboration. Since 2019, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine together with the University of Heidelberg has been collaborating on a research project to bolster vaccine confidence in the Philippines, and mentored several early career researchers on novel data collection techniques, mixed methods, and academic writing. We wanted to expand and formalize these mentoring approaches [by applying the] “buklod” sentiment with the goal to have a deeper eye level exchange within our partners between the global north and the global south,” explained Dr. Reñosa on how Project BUKLOD was developed.

BUKLOD gave us the possibility to not only continue and explore further ideas for future research projects between the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and our group at the Heidelberg Institute (for Global Health), but to actually build on this and bring in additional groups and departments from both institutions, but also to include other institutions in the Philippines,” added Mr. Wachinger about Project BUKLOD’s establishment.

by Anel Azel Dimaano