N2Africa Writeshop, Wageningen, 21-24 May 2013

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N2Africa conducted a writeshop in Wageningen, the Netherlands from the 21st to the 24th of May 2013. The objective of the writeshop was to providing participants the opportunity to develop papers in small teams, review each other’s draft manuscripts and share ideas – all aimed at improving the quantity and quality of papers produced by the participants in the N2Africa project.

In total 25 participants travelled to Wageningen from the different N2Africa countries. On the first day of the workshop all participants gave a 5-minute presentation on their paper, including the main challenges faced. Thereafter we enjoyed lectures from Peter Griffith, an English language specialist, and Gerrit Gort, a biometrician, both from Wageningen University. During the following days all of us had plenty of opportunities to interact with these specialists in one-on-one sessions or in small groups of people struggling with similar issues.

We were then assigned to review each other’s papers paying particular attention to what the language specialist and biometrician had pointed out. After reviewing each individual had to work on their papers to incorporate the comments and corrections that had been made and this was amazingly helpful. On the final day of the workshop each lead author gave another brief presentation on the progress that had been made during the workshop, a timeline was agreed upon and a ‘mentor’ was assigned to keep track of the progress of the paper.

For me this workshop was helpful in that it helped me improve my writing skills and also my statistical skills. It also enabled me to interact with other participants and get so many helpful contributions which I believe will also help me during the write-up of my thesis for my MPhil studies. I wish we could have more of these helpful writeshops to improve the quality of write-ups that we produce as scientists. My special thanks goes to Professor Ken Giller and his team who made the writeshop possible and successful. I believe every person who attended this write-shop will be a better writer if they put what we learned there into practice.

Tatenda T. Kainga, MPhil Student on N2Africa scholarship, University of Zimbabwe-CIAT Zimbabwe