Blended SORT-IT for operational research capacity building; the model, its successes and challenges

Tom Decroo, Rafael Van den Bergh, Ajay M. V. Kumar, Rony Zachariah, Erin Schillberg, Philip Owiti, Wilma Van den Boogaard, Guido Benedetti, Safieh Shah, Engy Ali, Anthony D. Harries, Anthony J. Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

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The Structured Operational Research Training Initiative (SORT-IT) has been shown to be very effective in strengthening capacity for conducting operational research, publishing in scientific journals and fostering policy and practice change. The 'classic' model includes three face-to-face modules during which, respectively, a study protocol, a data analysis plan, and a manuscript are elaborated. Meanwhile, the lectures of the SORT-IT are available online as YouTube videos. Given the availability of this online material and the experiences with online mentorship of the faculty, we piloted a first blended distance/residential SORT-IT. To inform future implementers of our experience with blended operational research courses, we summarize the model, successes, and challenges of this approach in this perspective paper. The blended SORT-IT consisted of an online phase, covering modules 1 and 2, followed by a face-to-face writing module 3. Four out of six participants successfully completed the course, and submitted a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal within four weeks of completing module 3. A blended approach may make the SORT-IT course more accessible to future participants and may favour the adoption of the course by other institutions, such as national Ministries of Health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1469215
JournalGlobal Health Action
Issue number1
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Operational research
  • capacity building
  • blended learning
  • mentorship
  • education
  • training


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