MUST charts a new path by launching science & arts research journal

Malawi University of Science & Technology (MUST) has charted a new path in the history of the country’s tertiary education by launching the first of its kind academic journal, Advances in Science & Arts — set to provide high quality, reviewed, open access infrastructure for scholarly articles and other products of research and development.

At the launch, director of research, postgraduate studies and outreach, Dr. Alfred Maluwa said the Advances in Science and Arts journal has been established as a response to the MUST’s vision, mission and strategic objectives.

Dr. Maluwa

MUST’s Vision is to be a world class center of science and technology education, research and entrepreneurship and the Advances in Science and Arts journal complements the vision of the Directorate of Research and Outreach, “which is to become world class center of excellence in research and outreach”.

The strategies to achieve this vision include conducting high quality research by both faculty and students; translating the research results into evidence based policy and translating the research results into evidence based curricula.

The Journal is also aimed at providing a platform for networking and sharing of research results with the global scientific community and to increase MUST’s visibility, nationally, regionally and globally through e-journal infrastructure.

The journal is designed to publish in volumes, issues and sections — one volume per year with 2 issues, in July and December.

Sections will depend upon the disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, humanities and others.

It is open access for staff and its students and postgraduates, free of charge and available to everyone on the global with only high quality manuscripts shall be published.

The journal — designed internally — is owned by MUST and is exclusively open access and without transfer of copyrights.

Maluwa said they came up with this initiative for MUST to attain world class status in the advancement of science and arts and is designed to enrich contributors’ CVs in the dissemination of knowledge.

Amongst the high profile dignitaries that graced the launch included Dr. Joseph Nagoli from National Panning Commission — who expressed his appreciation of the Journal, saying this is what is factored in the MW2063 agenda in the advancement of academic, scientific and arts research for the development of this country.

Guest of honour was Dr. Joshua Valeta, director of higher learning in the Ministry of Education, who also said journal ties well with the development aspirations of Malawi as espoused through the Malawi 2063.

“Research, which the journal seeks to promote through publications, is one way of generating new knowledge that will inform our decisions and come up with innovations as we implement and realise the MW2063.

He applauded MUST for being aggressive and innovative to develop the international standard journal, saying in just a few years of its existence it has charted another new path towards the development of the country’s social and economic through science and technology.

The architects of the Journal

He urged other universities to emulate this example set by MUST, saying tertiary education in Malawi has over the years focused on just teaching and learning with less research.

“So as Ministry of Education, we are very pleased to see that MUST is not satisfied to just offer teaching and learning,” he said. “The University realises that the mandate of a university is three fold, offer teaching and learning, conduct research and carry out outreach activities. The latter is mostly a product of research.

“It has been worrying that out of the three, most universities have for years concentrated on teaching and learning. If you ask them, the argument has been lack of resources to conduct research.

“While I do not want to dismiss this argument, let me say that perhaps such universities have not been aggressive enough to explore opportunities for research funding.

“Truth be told, for those who are serious and have built a profile in research, there are plenty of grants out there. All we need is to have a commitment which will in the long run, help us built a positive research reputation.”

He emphasised that establishing a Journal means MUST is opening the invitation to an “academic feast of publishing to all researchers in both public and private universities in addition to research centres within Malawi and beyond”.

Quoting the National Education Sector Investment Plan (NESIP) — under challenges facing the higher education sector — he said universities lack quality and relevant research programmes which contribute to the socio-economic development of the country, saying there aren’t a lot of research programmes to engage learners.

MUST Orchestra spiced up the launch

He also pointed out that availability of quality data still remains a challenge and in establishing the Advances in Science and Arts journal, “MUST is in many ways addressing some of the critical challenges currently facing the sector”.

Apart from resources, another motivating factor for academic researchers is a platform to publish and hopefully, with the journal, we will see more faculty members, and perhaps students too, conducting research and publishing.

“This will improve our research quality and relevance which will in turn inform development initiatives. With more research, the country will create a lot of quality data for reference and other statistical usage.

“With publications to their names, our faculty members will have bragging rights and a place on the table of true academics. We all know that our sector is so ‘unfair’ that despite of one’s brilliance or articulation of issues in his field, they are never recognised as an authority until they have some publications to their name.

“Most of the world ranking index also puts much weight on publications by faculty and their presence online,” adding that through the journal, MUST will add another dimension to its brand identity.

He took cognizance of the existence of other academic and research Journal in Malawi — the Malawi Journal of Science and Technology; the Malawi Medical Journal and the Malawi Journal of Humanities.

“Interestingly, all the older journals are focussing on specific fields of research and they are doing well in their respective areas. This means that MUST’s Journal is not just established for its own sake. It has a specific gap it wants to fill.

“I would encourage the University to remain in its course and maintain the identity of its Journal. Looking closely, the Advances in Sciences and Arts offers a platform for disseminating research findings in a wider multidisciplinary approach.”

He called on all stakeholders and partners to support MUST in making the Journal a success in areas of capacity building for the editorial team, finances to offset some of the costs and many more other ways and for academics submit their research articles.

“I am also pleased with the security checks put in place to promote quality and stop plagiarism. The online submission of manuscripts will ensure that manuscripts are checked against these academic mischiefs before any editorial review is done.

“The use of an online submission and tracking portal also enables authors to know what is happening with their submission throughout the review process, in real time.

The system also helps the editors to track their and reviewers’ progress for timely decisions on submissions. It also provides a great tool for periodic monitoring and evaluation that will be a critical tool in placing the journal into top indexing databases soon. This is very encouraging.”

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