Kyambogo University’s acting vice chancellor Prof Eli-Katunguka-Rwakishaya has challenged researchers to have realistic budgets while presenting their proposals.
Speaking at the second annual Eastern African Research and Innovations Management Association (EARIMA) conference last week, Katunguka said many research proposals are turned down by grant-givers due to exorbitant costs posted.
“When you write a research proposal, it must show the funders that your research adds value to their organisation with realistic costs,” Katunguka said. “[But] once you inflate costs for issues like transport, per diem and salaries of people who are already in employment, you risk losing out on the grant.”
Katunguka, also the president of EARIMA, added that he has regularly rejects proposals for researchers who largely focus on allowances and unending meetings and travels. He cited impediments to research like inadequate funds, lack of capacity to write convincing proposals and queries in accountability of individuals and institutions.
The four-day conference held at Grand Global hotel in Makerere-Kikoni last week, was aimed at building the capacity of researchers under the theme; Promoting Sustainable Development Goals through research and innovation.
Katunguka said the theme was deemed appropriate so as to support the global agenda with credible research findings and appropriate innovations. Hajjat Bakia Wamala Kezaala, the head department of Management Science at Kyambogo University, also cautioned fellow researchers on inflating costs.
“These people who give grants have got limits because the money is got from their taxpayers but many researchers think this is free money. By the way, the costs we inflate are known because funders conduct market surveys before approving the proposals,” Kezaala said.
Researchers from higher institutions of learning, research firms and the private sector discussed the full cycle of research project management including research planning, sourcing for funds, research risks, managing projects, exploitation of research finding and Intellectual Property.
Participants expressed concern over scientists with poor communication skills for their projects, yet the end result for research must be commercialization. Kezaala said scientists need to enroll for humanity courses like marketing and entrepreneurship in order to market their innovations.
“They [scientists] should also stop to think for the consumers but come to the market and seek people’s views before any inventions. Scientists have very interesting innovations but they are lying idle in their book shelves,” she said.
This year, the EARIMA conference was held in Kampala after the lead convener fell ill. It had been planned to be held in Nairobi. Researchers were drawn from countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Somalia and Rwanda.