We held workshops on the application documents for the JSPS fellowships on March 20th, 23rd, and April 28th, 2015.
Here we call those who create application documents “applicants,” and those who support them “mentors.”
Mentors checked one or two application documents before the workshop.
The workshop proceeded in the following order: mentor meeting (mentors), briefing (plenary), mentoring (plenary), creation of the application document (applicants), and mentor meeting (mentors).
12:00–13:00 Mentor Meeting (Mentors)
Mentors brought their lunch and shared with each other the improvement points of the pre-checked application documents.
They organized the points so that they could give feedback in the plenary briefing session.
Specifically, they pointed out things such as “Many documents were unbalanced,” (e.g., “The background of the research occupies half the document.”) and “The section title and the text were not aligned,” (e.g., “Research goal includes a description of methods, which is unnecessary for the section.”).
13:00–13:30 Orientation (Plenary)
We explained the summary and schedule of the workshop, followed by a self-introduction among the participants and feedback.
13:30–15:30 Mentoring (Plenary)
The applicants had a one-hour one-on-one meeting (i.e., mentoring) with the mentors on how to improve their application documents.
15:30–18:00 Creation of the Application Document (Applicants) and Mentor Meeting (Mentors)
Following the mentoring session, applicants refined their application documents based on the feedback they had received. Mentors shared what the mentoring session was like with each other at the mentor meeting.
Finally, participants shared their thoughts on the workshop.
Reflection on the Workshop
It was great that the mentors took their time to read the application documents in advance and were able to encourage the applicants to improve their documents through careful mentoring.
However, reading the document thoroughly beforehand and joining the workshop earlier than the applicants mean that it was quite a burden for the mentors. The workshop has room for improvement in that sense.
Also, we offered a session for creating the documents after mentoring, but there was not so much interaction between the applicants and mentors during the session, so it might not be necessary to incorporate such an activity into the workshop itself.
Many applicants seemed to be satisfied with the workshop, although there is still much more to improve the event.
Mentors, too, seemed to be satisfied to share tips on how to create the application documents at the mentor meeting.
Therefore, the event was overall a success.
We would like to improve and conduct better workshops in the future based on the reflection.
(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)