The residential Joint Advanced Seminar (JAS) 2 for the fifth cohort of CARTA fellows kicked off on November 2, 2015, at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. 25 fellows from cohort 5 are attending the JAS which ends on November 26, 2015. University of Witwatersrand’s, School of Public Health is hosting the four-week long seminar.
“JAS 2 marks a critical step in the training of our fellows. At this JAS, fellows are equipped with necessary skills for developing their protocols. This ensures they move faster in the journey towards attaining their PhDs,” said Prof. Sharon Fonn while welcoming the fellows to JAS 2. Sharon is a Professor and head of the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand and CARTA’s co-director. The one-month long seminar focuses on data management and analysis.
|Cohort 5 fellows during a break at JAS 2|
"JAS 2 kicked off to a beautiful and energetic start. The general mood here is one of optimism and excitement among the Cohort 5 fellows. Profs. Sharon Fonn and Margaret Thorogood effortlessly helped us to settle in. We are excited to see this JAS to a pleasant end," said Raymond Felix Odokonyero, cohort 5 fellows’ President. He is pursuing his doctoral studies at Makerere University, Uganda.
During JAS 2, fellows are exposed to software packages for qualitative and quantitative data management and analysis. It also has several practice sessions which use real research data and current software packages to offer hands-on training to enhance grasp of knowledge by the fellows. There are also regular methodology clinics (one-on-one meetings between fellows and their supervisors) designed to respond to individual needs of fellows and to strengthen specific areas where they feel deficient or simply to address specific challenges they are facing in their research.
Fellows are also introduced to journal clubs during this JAS and each of them has a chance to run a session observed and evaluated by a JAS Facilitator. These journal clubs allow fellows to become familiar with how to participate in and organize a journal club; develop their ability to critically read and discuss a paper; learn how to present an overview of a journal article, and acquire skills in peer review and discussion.
"JAS 2 has started very well and we feel at home here in Wits. The first week was structured in a clinical setting where we met facilitators for diagnosis of the specific problems we are facing during our protocol development process. It is through this diagnosis that we were assigned clinics for "treatment" purpose. Going through this treatment is something I look forward to in the next few weeks," said Jepchirchir Kiplaglat, a cohort fellow from Moi University attending the JAS.
To mark the end of JAS 2, fellows usually go for a field visit. This gives them a chance to have an experience with data collection; appreciate the importance of research management systems; discuss key ethical issues in population‐based longitudinal research; translate research findings into appropriate oral feedback for community, and have an awareness of practical issues that arise during fieldwork.
This year’s field visit will be to the Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit located at the Agincourt Population and Health Unit. The Agincourt Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS), located in rural northeast South Africa close to the Mozambique border, provides the foundation for the Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.