Asia SORT-IT Operational Research Course 2018

Organization Name: The Union
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Apply email: Not Specified
Start Date: 08-November-2017
Closing Date: 10-December-2017

The Union South-East Asia Office

Course Brief: Asia SORT-IT Operational Research Course-2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Fully funded by DFID and conducted by International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union)

The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) is an international scientific organization headquartered in Paris with a mission towards providing Health Solutions to the Poor. A leader in the field of TB, it works closely with leading international, regional and local TB control agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Union prioritises the health care needs of low-and-middle income countries. It is a pathfinder organization that develops, promotes and evaluates cost-effective strategies in collaboration with National Ministries of Health and national and international partners. Its technical work focuses on three main pillars: (1) technical support to public health programs, (2) training, and (3) operational research. The Union’s core values are the quality of its technical work, independence, accountability with an emphasis on critical evaluation and solidarity with countries with limited resources.

The Union’s Regional Office for South-East Asia (USEA), located in New Delhi, India and Médecins sans Fronterès invite applications from the health programme/project managers/public health professionals from countries in Asia including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Maldives, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand for a Regional Operational Research Training Course. This course is conducted by The Union through a grant from the Department for International Development, United Kingdom. This is a “SORT IT” (Structured Operational Research and Training IniTiative) course and is conducted under the umbrella of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO-TDR). The course will be led by The Union and Médecins Sans Frontières and will be facilitated by various SORT IT partners. SORT IT supports organisations, projects and countries to undertake operational research in accordance with their own priorities, develop adequate and sustainable operational research capacity, and create an organisational culture of policy and practice being informed by operational research, leading to improved programme performance.

The initiative teaches the practical skills needed to undertake and publish operational research. The course duration is 10–12 months with 3 modules with clear milestones and measurable targets. Failure to fulfil the expected outputs linked to each module implies the candidate does not return for the next module. Participants go through the whole research process and complete the course with a defined product which is a peer-reviewed manuscript to be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals which in turn contributes to improved policy and/or practice.

Purpose: To develop the practical skills for conducting operational research and publishing the findings

Course curriculum: The course comprises three modules which will be held at Colombo, Sri Lanka, as follows.
Module 1: Research Question and Protocol Development – March 05-10, 2018

This will be a six day module to help participants develop a thorough understanding about what operational research is all about and to ensure that a draft research protocol is produced before the completion of the module. The teaching will be through lectures, discussions, exercises and use of case studies of completed and published operational research, and participants will have the opportunity to present and discuss their written protocols with the facilitators. This six-day module will continue after a one-day break with Module 2.

Brief content overview
Introduction to Operational research     
Research terminology and methods     
Basic data analysis
Asking the right research questions      
Developing research protocol
Aims and Objectives
(Key Deliverable Output: A Draft Scientific Protocol)

Module 2: Data management and data analysis – March 12-17, 2018

This will be a six-day module to help participants understand data management and data analysis.

The module will consist of:

2 days: Data entry (Ensure efficient quality assured data entry)

2 days: Data analysis

1 day: Application of learning on specific projects

1 day: Plenary and feedback

Brief content overview             
Designing an efficient data entry
Introduction to data analysis instrument
Producing relevant analysis                                                     
Making an efficient computer results in tabular form data entry questionnaire      
Daily homework on one’s own                                                  
Entering and validating data entry electronic data entry instrument         
(Key Deliverable Output: Draft electronic data entry instrument and a plan of analysis)
Module 3: Scientific paper writing – December 07-14, 2018

This will be a seven-day module to help participants write their scientific papers and deal with on-line submission and editors’ and reviewers’ comments

Brief content overview
Learn the principles of writing a scientific paper
Learn how to deal with peer review
(Key Deliverable Output: Draft paper to be submitted to a scientific journal)

3. Faculty for the course

The course will be conducted by the experienced and reputed faculty from The Union’s Centre for Operational Research, Médecins Sans Frontières (Brussels/Luxembourg), World Health Organization, collaborating University partners and the successful participants of the earlier courses who have now graduated to become faculty.

4. What does the participant’s organisation gain?
A person who is well trained in operational research and can help their program or institution undertake relevant operational research to identify challenges and improve programme performance in a sustainable manner.
This is a “pioneering initiative” giving rationale for longer term contracts, a career opportunity including the possibility of pursuing a PhD in the field of operational research. The approach will strongly complement “innovation” within routine operations and contribute to critical reflection on program orientation and its impact over time.
The initiative would also foster medical staff-retention and attract qualified staff and reduce turn-over which may hamper continuity of research initiatives.
5.  What does the participant gain?
Practical skills for undertaking the entire operational research process from concept to publication
The experience of learning and sharing knowledge within a team of motivated participants and talented facilitators in operational research (who act as mentors) from different countries.
An opportunity to excel and gain visibility in operational research and to prepare for increased research responsibilities and research leadership in their country
Possibilities of submitting published papers and eventually acquiring a PhD in operational research. Fellowships in operational research can be provided to promising and interested candidates, as a way of fostering longer term retention and career opportunities at the program level. In particular, links have been made with universities to link the fellowship program with an eventual PhD in operational research.
Participants are strongly encouraged to help train and eventually lead others (as mentors) to maximise long term capacity development and impact. The philosophy used is “see one, do one, teach one”
5.Course follow-up
In between the modules 2 and 3, candidates will return to their respective health programmes/projects to continue their routine work and in addition collect the data pertaining to their research projects.
Participants will be contacted intermittently after course completion to determine accomplishments and policy and practice impact of their studies. They will also become part of an operational research “alumni” organisation. A specific website forum has been developed to foster interaction.
Course facilitators will be available to provide advice upon request.
7. Criteria for successful applicants
Involved actively in the running of a national or state or NGO programme or major health institution in a program or disease specific field (TB, HIV, lung health, tobacco control, communicable or non- communicable diseases)
Statement from applicant - Provide written commitment to attend all three modules of the training course, return to their programme or institution after the course and implement course knowledge at programme level for a minimum of at least 18 months. This is mandatory and we urge you to use the attached standard template.
Statement from supervisor - Provide a written statement from the supervisor or coordination/operations or relevant authority attesting to the investment of resources and granting the applicant permission to have time and opportunity to carry out and publish operational research (with applicant being the first author) and adhere to all the course milestones and timelines. Please note that we do not provide any funds for conduct of research. This is mandatory and we urge you to use the attached standard template.
Statement from mentor - Provide a written statement from a mentor (if available) describing how the mentor knows the candidate and how the mentor proposes to provide support to complete the course successfully. This is not mandatory and we understand if you do not have access to a local mentor.
Ability to mobilize the funding required to carry out operational research
Outline a one - two-page text with a) title (max 20 words) a) description of a problem that the candidate has identified within a given program (max 500 words) b) formulates a research question (using PICOT format) that is proposed to be developed into an operational research project (max 100 words). Please note that the research questions using already available routine programme data are preferred as prospective studies are unlikely to fit into the time-line and expected outputs of the course and.c) brief methodology (max 500 words) including whether primary or secondary data collection (if secondary, what is the source of data and whether it is available in paper-based or in electronic format and whether you have the permission to access data)
Masters in Public Health (MPH) or an equivalent, or a strong recommendation
Fluent in written and spoken English
Computer literate
Female candidates meeting the above criteria are strongly encouraged to apply.

8.   Research Questions – guidance

In your application you will be asked to formulate and submit a research question based on a perceived problem within the programme or health system in which you work. The research will have to be carried out within a 6 - 8 month time frame and therefore we strongly encourage simple research projects that are based on secondary (monitoring and evaluation) data that are already collected and available in registers or treatment cards or electronic databases. Prospective studies and studies involving patient interventions and patient questionnaires (primary data) are less likely to be accepted as suitable for this course as they cannot usually be completed within the time frame.

9. Sponsorship

We will provide a full scholarship to successful applicants (12 numbers). The scholarship includes all tuition fees, travel expenses, meals and accommodation.

10. Application deadline:  December 10, 2017

Applications, along with supportive documents, have to be submitted online using the link

Supporting documents that have to be submitted online while filling the application are:
CV of applicant
Statement from applicant
Statement from supervisor
Statement from mentor (optional)
Concept note of proposed operational research project (problem statement, research question, brief methodology)
For MSF candidates from sections other than the Brussels Operational Center, a letter of approval will be required from the medical or operations director
For any further clarifications, please contact

Dr Hemant D Shewade
South-East Asia Office, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
C-6, Qutub Institutional Area, New Delhi 110016
Tel: +91 11 46 05 44 21

Failure to provide all of the above requested information will result in the rejection of your application. Incomplete applications will be discarded.
The decision of The Union South-East Asia Regional office will be final in matters related to the selection to the course. You will not be able to pursue any dispute related to selection matters legally. Apply to the course only if you agree to this condition.
Please note that all supportive documents must be in Word or PDF format.

Download Attachment: 8586186_Template_Statement form applicant.pdf
8586187_Template_Statement form supervisor.pdf