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Jen presented a half-day EQUATOR Network workshop to a group of nurses and medics at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, at the invitation of Global Research Nurses (GRN). This half-day workshop covered how medical research is used to improve health and how this can go wrong when journal articles aren’t fit for purpose; how to plan and write a journal article that can be used, focusing on simplicity, clarity, and completeness; and using reporting guidelines to ensure completeness, focusing on what reporting guidelines are, how to find them, how to choose the right ones, and how to use them. 

"I thoroughly enjoyed delivering this workshop! The participants were enthusiastic, engaged, and interested. The recruited participants were at exactly the right point in their careers: Some had not done any research and were curious about getting involved; some were involved in the periphery of research and were interested in taking more ownership; some had just completed Master’s degrees with dissertations, but were unclear about how to convert their thesis into a usable research article.

We worked through two article abstracts, using a reporting guideline to discover whether the article included enough information. Participants mentioned feeling empowered to critically appraise the abstracts using the reporting guidelines as a guide."

Questions during the coffee break and after the session focused on the difference between a thesis and a journal article, and how to choose what information from a thesis should be brought across into an article. Participants mentioned feeling overwhelmed by the job of writing an article before the session, but now feeling motivated and confident.

Participants shared their take-home messages and planned next steps at the end of the session. They included starting their first article, looking for research to get involved with, looking up the right reporting guideline for their next article, and using reporting guidelines to guide their reading of the literature.

Participants mentioned repeatedly how much they valued this level and type of skills training, yet how little access to it they had. It sounds like academic transferable skills training is available within universities (UCT, Stellenbosch and UWC in the Western Cape), but that this training is either not available or not advertised to those affiliated mainly with the research hospitals. Researchers are painfully aware that research that is not published and read may as well never have occurred, yet they often receive little support and training in how to accomplish this. Simple capacity building training in writing and publication skills has the potential to significantly improve the impact of conducted research, both immediately with each researcher reached and in the future, as these researchers become supervisors and mentors, able to pass their knowledge on.