This was originally posted on the AuthorAID blog on November 28, 2012. Ravi Murugesan is a science editor and AuthorAID consultant.
For the last couple of months, I have been facilitating online courses in research writing on AuthorAID Moodle, our e-learning platform. I would now like to share some outcomes.
We announced the first online course in research writing in August, and we chose about 40 of the applicants, based on how strong their applications were. We had to limit the number of course participants because this course would be facilitated, much as a workshop is.
The first online course ran from mid September to late October, and the participants came from 18 countries. The course contained lessons on various aspects of writing a paper for publication. The course participants could make posts on a discussion forum to present their questions and views; they made more than 300 posts! They posted questions and also answered questions posted by others. Because of the online format, we could easily share links to relevant material. Some hot topics of discussion were journal selection, authorship, and ethical approval for studies.
After a lesson on writing abstracts, some participants submitted their own abstracts. I gave overall comments on each abstract, mainly regarding clarity. In another assignment, the participants looked at published papers in their fields and observed the characteristics of the papers.
The completion rate was reasonably good at 84%, but we would have liked it to be higher.
I’m now facilitating the second online course. We decided to select the participants for this course from those who had applied for the first course because so many had applied. As in the first course, the participants are making good use of the discussion forum. I hope we’ll see a higher completion rate this time.
After analyzing the results of these two courses, the AuthorAID staff will decide to announce further courses. This may happen in early 2013. Please follow this blog to keep posted on our plans.