Like a seasoned academic and researcher that he is, Theo Davies, a Researcher Professor in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, said with conviction: “I implore you to give me the topics; I will help to populate it”, he said to staff members of the Department of Agriculture to whom he was giving a presentation on 5 September 2023 at the University’s Council Chamber. This was a continuation of a series of presentation that Professor Davies is giving to faculty members to help them to acquire their post graduate degrees, particularly PhDs, and also so the faculty can be able to turn out DHET approved papers.
The presentation was on how to write a winning proposal for funding. This was not the first time that Professor Davies gave this presentation. He gave it to staff members of another department. But what was different about this presentation was that it resulted in a lively discussion wherein the staff members, all of whom are involved in research work or study, at different levels, got a chance to air their views and problems that are related to research.
Responding to Professor Davies’ highlighting of collaboration in research and other related activities, Dr Karabo Molomo said he was pushed aside at the last stages of a student’s Master’s studies. He had been the main supervisor of the student. Another staff member, Sandile Mthethwa, suggested that an agreement be signed to eliminate problems associated with student supervision at Master’s and PhD levels. To this, Professor Davies, and the Head of the Department, Dr Farayi Murungu, and the rest of the department staff members agreed. Staff members also informed Professor Davies about the challenges they had with their own research projects. For instance, they suggested that it would be much easier for them to deal with data and statistics related part of their research if there was an in-house data analysis and a statistician who would assist them. The staff members also said they needed help with time management, and that the ratio of research and workload was not helping them much.
Professor Davies’ recommendation about international funding was highlighted by Dr Kayode Fatokun. Dr Fatokun said access to funding is very central to research projects. Hence, his presentation on how to access funding especially via international funding bodies will no doubt assist MUT staff in the writing of acceptable proposal for funding. Dr Fatokun said he got better insights into escaping some booby traps that may have lead to his application for research fund being denied.
Professor Davies has advised staff to work in small groups to work on topics. They need to set targets for papers that will accompany the proposal. He also emphasized that he was available for supervision of the staff studying post graduate studies.