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In Nature: Study shows OWSD PhD fellows contribute to capacity building in home countries

December 14, 2023

A study by researchers at the University of Hawaii and Boston University finds evidence that OWSD PhD fellows help to build research networks when coming from countries with high gender equity.

A new article published in Nature Index calls attention to the study recently published in Organization Science by researchers Caroline Fry of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Jeffrey Furman of Boston University, which used data provided by OWSD PhD fellows and applicants to study the impact of the fellowships on research networks at fellows' home institutes. The study looked at publication patterns of the colleagues of 64 fellows at their home institutes (researchers working in the same field as the fellows), compared to publication patterns of the colleagues of 64 applicants to the fellowship who were not selected. Compared to the control group, the study found that OWSD PhD fellows' colleagues had increased rates of publication (10% more on average), but only when they moved between countries with relatively high gender equality, as measured by the United Nations Gender Development Index and other indices. 

The OWSD PhD fellowship is a South-to-South fellowship scheme, with the objective of supporting mobility in and among developing countries and contributing to capacity building of scientists in both the fellows' home and host countries. Fellows benefit not only from facilities and equipment at their host institutes, but from access to expertise and connections in their field, bringing these connections back with them when they return home and acting as brokers for research partnerships between their home and host countries. This study shows, however, that the impacts are greatest when fellows' home and host countries already offer a high degree of gender equality, such as Cameroon and South Africa. 

The OWSD PhD fellowship is currently paused due to funding cuts; however, this study, as the Nature article points out, underlines the importance of international mobility and networks to scientists in developing countries. OWSD is currently seeking new funding for the PhD fellowship programme; if interested in supporting and continuing to develop this programme with OWSD, please contact

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