Survey highlights concerns over research infrastructure

Lack of appropriate infrastructure is among factors hindering the scientific progress of fledgling scientists in Africa, says an international society of early career researchers.

The Global State of Young Scientists (GloSYS) Africa team, a grouping run by the Global Young Academy (GYA), a voice for young scientists around the world, shared preliminary results of their ongoing survey at the 2018 Global Gathering of the Next Einstein Forum in Kigali, Rwanda on 28 March.

The GYA GloSYS working group leads research projects investigating the context in which early-career researchers work, and the challenges and motivations that shape their career paths.

In collaboration with research partners in four African regions – East Africa, North Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa – GloSYS is running a survey for young scientists to determine their motivations to enter research, available support mechanisms, access to mentoring, scientific productivity, challenges, gender inequity, funding and mobility issues within the higher education or research environment.

“We want early career scientists to answer questions about mobility, personal progress and gender issues,” said Marie Luise Neumann, GloSYS Africa project researcher.

So far, the survey has attracted 750 respondents and 600 of them are from Africa. About 60% of the people who have responded are employed and 20% are doctoral students. The survey is available in French and English.

Apart from showing that lack of appropriate research infrastructure is a critical source of dissatisfaction among young scientists, there was confidence in career prospects among young African scientists and, at 40%, female scientists are ‘most content’.

Over 70% of young researchers displayed an appetite to leave their home country temporarily in the future.

In the last 10 years, 35% of researchers said they have managed to live for three or more months outside their home country doing research work. Top international destinations for mobility have come out as Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and in Africa, South Africa and Kenya are the countries most visited by young researchers.

Neumann said the research will produce evidence-based policy recommendations that highlight the ways in which young scientists can be better supported in their research efforts and career development. She said they will actively engage with policy makers and other social actors to disseminate their findings and recommendations.