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Open University of Sri Lanka annual research sessions to focus on building sustainable nation


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The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) is preparing for the 15th annual research sessions renamed as the Open University Research Sessions or OURS under the theme of ‘Opening minds: Research for Sustainable Development’. 

“It is a theme that is very relevant to today’s world,” said conference chair and director of research at OUSL, Prof. R. Fernando. However, though sustainability is a highly publicised topic there is very little communication on a research scale occurring in Sri Lanka. “It is to encourage more thinking in this capacity that we decided on this theme,” said Prof. Fernando.

“It is important for academics, researchers and others interested to collaborate, share findings and explore new ideas,” continued Prof. Fernando elaborating that academic conferences are a platform to appeal to an innate curiosity present in all investigators. “This is an important event in the university calendar held to foster and enhance the research culture among academic staff and students,” explained Prof. Shironica Karunanayaka, convener of the editorial committee. “Shared research experiences provide a great opportunity for everyone to learn and adopt good practices to further improve their teaching-learning approaches,” said Prof. Karunanayaka.

From a student’s point of view conferences are an integral part of their research career where they gain such skills as public speaking, marketing themselves and their research as well as networking. Each presenter is given 10 to 15 minutes to describe their projects after which the audience is invited to pose questions, make suggestions and comments. “It is a process through which young researchers learn to accept criticism,” explained Prof. Fernando. This year researchers of academic and research institutions are invited to submit a synopsis of their research for this even to be held in November of 2017. However, the deadline for extended abstracts is 30 June. 

Abstracts are invited from a range of disciplines including education, engineering, health sciences, physical sciences, life sciences, management, law and social sciences. “As the pioneer institution in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) we offer a prominent place for ODL research,” said Prof. Karunanayaka. The plenary sessions have always been dedicated to ODL research whereas parallel sessions conduct discipline based research. Such an arrangement has, over the years, collected research in not only a variety of subjects’ but research papers rich in depth and quality as well informed Prof. Karunanayaka. 

Thinking back on the past 14 years of research sessions Prof. Karunanayaka reflected on the very first event which presented 24 research papers in two parallel sessions. “There has been a significant improvement in not only the quality of research but in the technology used for the event as well,” said Prof. Karunanayaka. This year OURS has a dedicated webpage linked to the main OUSL website which includes such information as author guidelines, important dates and information about past academic sessions. 

Prof. Karunanayaka also explained that until a few years ago submissions were made as hard copies whereas today online submissions in addition to submissions via email are accepted. Similarly, conference proceedings will not only be available in print form but all accepted abstracts will be published online as well. “We strive to maintain a high standard in the sessions by accepting extended abstracts after a rigorous double-blind peer review process,” explained Prof. Karunanayaka. 

Special invitees and keynote speakers at past conferences at the OUSL has attracted researchers from across the island. “We are also planning to organise an international conference,” revealed Prof. Fernando. The conference will be a special treat for local academics and researchers who will be exposed to international standards of research and be allowed to mingle with some of the biggest names in each respective field. Awaiting this international conference, researchers are invited to attend OURS 2017 to enhance the research culture, share good practices, initiate collaborations and contribute to high quality research and national development.

 


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