Professor advocates for African scholar recognition

Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Alan Whiteside, the CIGI chair in Global Health Policy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and a professor in the School of International Policy and Governance, will use his knowledge of HIV and AIDS to lead a project that will
advocate for African-led scholarships.
As well as being a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, Whiteside will be the lead researcher on a grant to the university from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world.
The aformentioned foundation’s ultimate goal is to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty on an international scale.
The grant will help build research and publication capacity with African researchers.
The project hopes to allow African scholars to expand their knowledge and input on HIV and AIDS within the global academic community.
African scholars are usually underrepresented in academic literature as they have limited resources to support their research within the global community.
“The bulk of the project is about identifying, holding workshops and mentoring with African scholars so that they can produce and publish top-quality, peer-reviewed articles predominately in the field of social science and HIV and AIDS,” said Whiteside.
According to Whiteside, there are two major problems for African scholars: too many of them are enticed into working in developed countries because of better prospects, and it is also very difficult for scholars to have their work published in peer-reviewed journals.
“In shorter truth … actually submitting [an article] is quite problematic if you’re submitting in Africa,” said Whiteside.
Whiteside is also the editor-in-chief of the African Journal of AIDS Research, a peer-reviewed medical journal with a focus on AIDS in Africa.
The project will bring together the university and the journal.
“I would like to be looking and developing articles which we can place in that journal, but equally, I would like to be mentoring and building authors who can just simply publish social science articles in other journals,” said Whiteside.
According to Whiteside, the main goal of the journal is to mentor developing African scientists to the point where they are able to write articles that can be peer-reviewed and published.
“The sub-goal will be for me to get additional papers for the journal that I edit, although I have to say at the moment I am doing extraordinarily well on the number of submissions.”
Whiteside has had many accomplishments over the course of his career in the field of HIV and AIDS research.
In 1990, he created and worked as the editor for the AIDS Analysis Africa newsletter.
Whiteside was also appointed to the Commission for HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa in 2003 and later became treasurer of the International AIDS Society Governing Council.
Whiteside explained the number of stages an article for a peer-reviewed paper has to go through to get into the African Journal of AIDS Research.
First, the editorial staff in Grahamstown, South Africa will work out what the editors should be looking for in the papers.
The work is then sent to Whiteside, along with an associate editor.
Whiteside also hopes to work closely with individuals in the Waterloo Region on how to produce academic reviews.
“I really hope that we would be able to work with particularly people in Waterloo,” said Whiteside.
“Because for people who are going to be academics, it’s really important to do it.”

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