Their objective is to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences as well as initiate new contacts that can also benefit professionals.
As a first step, a databank was created and sent to all participants in 2004. The document was also made available to the Africa Section of the GIZ, to give them an overview of the junior researchers’ particular areas of interest.
During the VAD conference of 2004, junior researchers were hosted in a separate forum. This gave them the opportunity to discuss current issues pertaining to research, personal situations and career perspectives amongst themselves. In addition, junior researchers were offered an opportunity to take part in a poster presentation session, which fostered group interaction and critical peer-review.
The conference in 2006 in Frankfurt strove to integrate junior researchers into the main conference. Here, junior researchers were urged to apply as speakers or panel leaders and junior researcher award winners held plenary lectures.
In a junior researchers’ meeting, held parallel to the general VAD conference in 2006, it was decided that a representative of the junior researchers would be proposed for election to the VAD board, and that junior researchers would hold a separate conference in 2007. In June 2007, approximately 40 participants met to exchange their experiences on research in and about Africa in Bonn, Germany under the motto “Researching Africa - research practices and methods in Africa” (Afrika Forschen- Forschungspraxis und Forschungsmethoden in Afrika). Based on this initial success, it was decided that more events like this would be organized in the future.
Consequently, a separate event for junior researchers was organized as part of the VAD conference in 2008 in Freiburg, Germany and Basel, Switzerland. This took place on the afternoon before the actual conference, to allow full participation by junior members. Many junior researchers participated as speakers and on panels.
Meanwhile, events for junior researchers have become a permanent feature of VAD conferences, offering junior researchers many opportunities to make contacts and discuss common interests.
Since 2004, the VAD has awarded a junior researcher prize during the VAD conferences every two years. Exceptional final theses (Magister, Masters, Diploma, Doctoral etc.) on Africa are awarded. (List of award winners to date)