DRILL hosts Informative Research Seminars

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UKZN’s Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership in South Africa (DRILL) programme recently hosted a number of research seminars.

DRILL held its first ever mental health symposium Voices from the Head: Brain Science and Changing Futures, which took place recently at the Elangeni Hotel, Durban. The Symposium shed light on innovative local and global research in the field of mental health. It also provided an opportunity for entry-level researchers to gain expert advice on developing an excellent research portfolio. A former medical graduate of UKZN and one of the country’s leading researchers and esteemed academics in the field, Professor Soraya Seedat made a presentation at the Symposium.

Zama Luvuno, the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Technical Advisor at the Centre of Rural Health who attended remarked: ‘I really enjoyed the first part of the presentation, on how to write and update your CV especially for us up-and-coming researchers. The seminar was very informative’.

Seedat is currently the Executive Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University and is also the President of the College of Psychiatrists, South Africa. She has extensive research experience in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders, with a special interest in clinical and translational work in childhood and adult post-traumatic stress disorder. Seedat implores young researchers to think beyond successfully completing a project and publication and to think about the impact of the project. ‘If we think about having a broader impact on society, it kind of changes the playing field’, said Seedat. One of the foundations of the DRILL programme is for the fellows to produce research that will have measurable societal impact.

Next on the agenda was a seminar held at the UNITE Building at the School of Engineering on 3 August. It was a session titled: Research Paradigms and Theoretical Frameworks: Love and Live with Them…

Many researchers struggle with using research paradigms and theoretical frameworks in their studies. Professor Anita van der Merwe’s seminar was perfectly tailored to demystify the role of paradigms and theoretical frameworks in research which can be very confusing for some. Van der Merwe is Professor and Executive Head: Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine, Stellenbosch University. In addition, she is the Chair of the Health Research Ethics Committee and the Committee for Postgraduate Research in the Faculty. She has interests in mixed methods research, software for qualitative data analysis, research philosophy and ethics, leadership and simulation and technology in Nursing Education.

The session was lively and interactive with van der Merwe providing much needed insight on how to understand the use of paradigms and conceptual or theoretical frameworks. Ms Zanele Zondi, a Joint Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Public Health said that the seminar was ‘educative, informative, simple and understandable. I learnt a lot about paradigms, theories and conceptual frameworks. I have been struggling with my study and I now have the tools to tackle it head on.’ She said she wished the session was longer and felt that van der Merwe needs to do a repeat seminar as no one else had explained these difficult concepts in such a simple and relatable manner before.

‘The seminar was good but I wish it was longer so we could’ve spent some time being shown how to apply the theory in a paper or a thesis or how we can help our students apply the concepts in Health Sciences’,  said Deshini Naidoo, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, UKZN.

One of the core principles of the DRILL programme is research skills development and seminars such as the ones recently hosted impart valuable skills in the development of young researchers.

Words and photograph by: Lungelo Khanyile