We held workshops on the application documents for the JSPS fellowships on March 26th, April 16th, and 30th, 2017.
Here we call those who create application documents “mentees,” and those who support them “mentors.” There were 69 participants (i.e., 44 mentees and 25 mentors) throughout the three workshops.
Building on reflection on the workshop held in AY2016, we incorporated a review session into the workshop, where one of the mentees explained his/her application document and received comments from other participants to let everyone get on the same page on the points of creating the application documents.
The workshop proceeded in the following order: briefing, review, peer review, review of the application documents, mentoring, and reflection.
Participant Teams and Groups
We made teams consisting of one mentor and up to two mentees.
Also, we made groups of two teams.
As described later, peer review was conducted in groups while mentoring in teams.
We explained the summary and schedule of the workshop, followed by a self-introduction among the participants.
Firstly, we asked one of the mentees to explain his/her document using a worksheet in front of everyone. (5 min)
Then, participants had a discussion on how to improve the application document in teams. (10 min)
What they discussed and specific tips on creating an application document were shared with everyone afterward.
14:00–15:00 Peer Review
Participants were divided into groups. Mentees explained their document using a worksheet in each group. (5 min)
They discussed how to improve the document. (9 min)
Each group consisted of four mentees and two mentors, so they repeated the above process four times.
They discussed centering on the structure and logic of the document by using worksheets.
15:00–15:30 Review of the Application Documents
Participants read the application documents before proceeding to the next “Mentoring” session.
Each group consisted of two mentees and one mentor, so the mentor read two application documents while the mentees read the other’s document and examined how to improve it.
The mentees had a one-hour one-on-one meeting (i.e., mentoring) with the mentors on how to improve their application documents.
Those who were finished with or waiting for the mentoring took notes on PCs on how other mentees had a meeting with the mentors and gave them feedback.
Participants reflected on the workshop and shared their learning.
Reflection on the Workshop
Based on the reflection on the previous event, it was really good to let the whole participants have a discussion on the application document.
Participants were able to relate what they had discussed in the reviewing session to the following activities for reviewing worksheets and application documents. They seemed to reorganize what they had just discussed and acquire points to create application documents.
The quality of the workshop design has been enhanced through practice and improvement over the last three years, but there is still room for improvement in the pre-assignment.
We provide worksheets and check sheets for pre-assignment, but since there was no example, some people seemed to have difficulty filling out the sheets.
Therefore, we need to show examples of worksheets and check sheets.
Also, since the mentors did not assess the application documents, it is unclear how much the quality of the documents was enhanced through the workshop.
We provide check sheets for self-evaluation for now, but it becomes quite a burden for mentors to check the application documents using the sheets.
Therefore, it is crucial to visualize the quality of the application documents by using evaluation criteria that are actually used.
There are still many points to improve, but most mentees seemed to be satisfied with the workshop.
Mentors, too, seemed to be pleased with the opportunities to share tips on creating application documents.
Therefore, we believe that the workshop was worth doing.
We are eager to improve our workshops to be held in the future based on the reflection on this event.
(Appendix) Background of the Workshop
It is not too much to say that the research fellowship awarded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) is an important title to obtain for becoming a researcher. In fact, 80.5% of those who became research fellows entered the “full-time researcher post” according to the survey on the people five years after they had been awarded the fellowship (JSPS 2015).
Those who have prepared an application document for the research fellowship even once must have experienced how their research theme and plan became sophisticated through the process.
In that sense, I believe that the process of creating the application document itself has value, apart from becoming a research fellow.
It may be important to create the document struggling alone, but I strongly believe that sharing the wisdom in creating the document helps everyone enhance not only the quality of the document but also the quality of the research, and that is why I planned and conducted this workshop.
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2015) Tokubetsukenkyūin – DC no shūshokujōkyōchōsakekka ni tsuite [Survey result of employment opportunities for research fellows (DC)] Retrieved April 3, 2017, from https://www.jsps.go.jp/j-pd/data/pd_syusyoku/27_dcgaiyou.pdf
(Lui Yoshida, Alumnus of the 1st UTokyo FFP)