Page 3 - UCT2012 Research Development Initiatives

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Research Development Initiatives
A flagship research development and support initiative, UCT's Emerging Researcher
Programme (ERP), reached its tenth year in 2012. Whereas most higher-education
institutions are faced with the challenge of an ageing cohort of established
researchers nearing or entering retirement, the ERP and other targeted research
support interventions at UCT are proving to be successful in growing and nurturing
the next generation of academics. Other interventions include the Programme for the
Enhancement of Research Capacity, theMellon Visiting and Retired Scholars Mentorship
Project, and the Next Generation of Academics project.
The Emerging Researcher
A cross-faculty programme located in UCT's Research
Office, the ERP strives to ensure the transfer of essential
research skills from experienced researchers to those
academics who have yet to establish a research career.
With almost a decade of experience, the ERP offers
support across all scientific disciplines.
The success of this programme is evidenced by its growth:
in its founding year, the programme had 45 participants;
by the end of 2012, this number had increased more than
tenfold, with a total of 548 academics having received
some form of support from the ERP since its inception.
Participation in the programme remains voluntary, and
many members who have ’emerged‘ choose to retain links
with the ERP and to receive an evolving form of support.
During 2012, the ERP offered 41 seminars and 25 workshops
across all disciplines. Topics ranged from research planning
andunderstanding theH-indexand impact factors, toplanning
for a successful sabbatical and open-access publishing.
The ERP offers modest grants for research development
purposes. The entire grants process is used as a capacity-
building exercise, from assistance in developing the
proposal and submitting the application, through to the
production of appropriate outputs that correspond to
goals identified in the proposal itself. In this way, the
ERP aims to equip researchers with the skills required
to compete successfully for external grants. In 2012, 82
research development grants in excess of R2.6 million were
awarded. This is made possible through funding provided
by the University Research Committee, the Carnegie
Corporation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Education,
Training and Development Practitioners’ Sector Education
and Training Authority.
One of the most important tasks of the ERP is to develop
excellent supervisors of postgraduate research. Through
the supervision training programme, novice researchers are
guided through the strategic, relational, and procedural
issues associated with master’s and PhD supervision. The
programme is open to all academic staff, whether they
are supervising postgraduate students for the first time or
seasoned academics who wish to update and strengthen
their supervision skills.
Programme for
the Enhancement of
Research Capacity
The Programme for the Enhancement of Research Capacity
(PERC), established in 2008, provides a framework for
supporting both mid-career and established researchers.
It also has a key objective of strengthening collaborative
research networks with partners in the global South and
particularly in Africa. It does this through a range of
initiatives that encourage collaborative, cross-disciplinary
research that links UCT staff to research colleagues
elsewhere in Africa.
In 2012, a total of 221 academics attended one or more of
the ten PERC seminars, two which were specifically geared
towards mid-career support. Seminars were offered by UCT
and visiting international staff, including Professor Debbie
Epstein (Cardiff University) and Professor Jane Kenway
(Monash University).
A large part of PERC support is directed at preparing staff
to apply for an NRF rating, though support is also given
for career planning, promotion goals, and publication
One of the highlights of 2012 was the visit by Professor
Paulin Hountondji from the National University of Benin,
who became the second annual PERC visitor. He is one of
Africa’s best known philosophers and Emeritus Professor
and Honorary Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at
the National University of Benin. Professor Hountondji
presented a series of seminars and a Vice-Chancellor’s