CARTA is committed to strengthening institutional capacity in research through a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. This is in recognition that sustainable research capacity requires a holistic transformation that spans individuals, institutions, and systems. Among these approaches is the provision of grants to African partner universities for the development and implementation of specific projects aimed at enhancing research capacity. These grants support initiatives such as curriculum development, research centers, and infrastructure improvements.
The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) is one of the partner universities that has benefitted from this initiative. In 2017, the program provided an institutionalization grant to OAU to support the development and adoption of a curriculum based on the CARTA JASes. Through the concerted efforts of CARTA fellows (Melvin Ojo and Sunday Adedini), focal persons of the program at the university, faculty members, and university leadership, the curriculum was approved in 2022 to be offered to all the doctoral students across the 13 faculties of OAU.
A key challenge that OAU had been encountering in pursuit of research capacity was the lack of a unified research methodology course, whereby each faculty offered its own. Stemming from the lack of standardized research training were poor research outputs from doctoral students, conceptually and theoretically weak research theses, and poor capacity of PhD graduates to publish research in journals of high impact. This called for the development of a unified curriculum that would drive a culture of research excellence across disciplines as envisioned with the research methodology course developed through the CARTA grant. Now adopted, the unified research methodology course fills a critical void, equipping doctoral students with essential research skills encompassing critical thinking, literature search, ethical considerations, and research report writing.
CARTA’s contribution was integral throughout the development of the course. Starting with proposal development, the program facilitated protected time for the development team by funding a concept refinement workshop in Nairobi. Further, the program’s monitoring and evaluation aspects ensured alignment with deliverables and provided a responsive framework for troubleshooting. The university- wide adoption of the unified research methodology course is an embodiment of enhanced academic quality, with potential to position OAU as a trailblazer in advancing research training in Nigeria. It is also a demonstration of CARTA’s resounding impact in shaping academic pathways and empowering a new generation of African scholars who can drive meaningful change through rigorous research.