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MENTORSHIP, INTERNATIONALISING RESEARCH AND THE NRF RATING Jane Carruthers Professor Emeritus University of South Africa Research Associate: Centre For.

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Presentation on theme: "MENTORSHIP, INTERNATIONALISING RESEARCH AND THE NRF RATING Jane Carruthers Professor Emeritus University of South Africa Research Associate: Centre For."— Presentation transcript:

1 MENTORSHIP, INTERNATIONALISING RESEARCH AND THE NRF RATING Jane Carruthers Professor Emeritus University of South Africa Research Associate: Centre For Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University

2 Unlike promotions up the university ranks, a rating is not related to institutional politics, departmental point-scoring or bureaucratic aggrandizement. It is objective, under one’s personal control, and thus a goal worth striving for. Evaluation of academic excellence – mentoring can be extremely effective because it is a shared enterprise. Mentoring and the NRF rating

3 Having the high regard of my peers, fellow researchers whose opinion I respect and admire Recognition that my research has been original, insightful, changed people’s perceptions Satisfaction of having made a contribution to knowledge nationally and internationally internationally

4 1. Why is mentoring necessary and why is the NRF rating process so appropriate for it? An NRF rating is THE most important measure of peer evaluation of research impact in South Africa and every university needs a structured mentoring system to encourage top quality research – and recognition for that research – from its staff. Postgraduate, indeed all, students should be alerted to the system and recognise the value of participating in it. Despite prominence in academic ‘conversation’ circles, it is surprising how little understood the rating process is, and how very many applications are inadequate or sub-optimal because early and appropriate mentoring and assistance from senior academics and colleagues is lacking, as is (often) institutional support.

5 2. Why is mentoring necessary? Long-term planning is required Strategic research agenda needs planning The application form is complicated A need to present oneself honestly, without under- or over-selling research impact and achievements (often unrealistically high self-rating of importance and impact of research – mentor can be honest) Difficult (and lonely) to do alone Anxiety/misunderstanding/misinformation around the process

6 Background to NRF rating 1984 Previous rating system for individuals in sciences and engineering via the Foundation for Research Development 1999 National Research Foundation established 2002 NRF rating instituted for social sciences and humanities

7 Purpose? Stimulate and enhance research (defined as original investigation undertaken to gain knowledge and/or enhance understanding) Raise quality of research Raise international profile of country and institution Affirm personal research profile – and improve it at regular intervals Benchmark South African research and researchers and institutions in terms of excellence Accord with international best practice

8 Rating for personal development and recognition of academic worth Reward for creative, innovative work Recognition of hard work Pleasure of peer appreciation Contribute to intellectual growth and diversity in South Africa Change public attitudes through research quality and reach Promote the best objective scholarly research THIS IS THE GOAL OF EVERY UNIVERSITY

9 What is a rating? Anonymous peer review (8-10 peers required) Assessment of the quality of recently published peer- reviewed research output (books, chapters in books, journal articles, conference proceedings, ‘other significant’ output, patents) Assessment of the impact of published research output Period evaluated: preceding eight years – regular update Administered (not adjudicated) by the National Research Foundation

10 Academic profile of rating total academics/researchers in South Africa total number of NRF-rated academics/researchers in 23 universities and other academic institutions 11.32% percentage rated of total in 2011/2012 (2009/10 =10.67%, 2010/2011 = 11.25)

11 The 5 different rating categories A Leading international researcher (total 99) B Internationally acclaimed researcher (total 615) CEstablished researcher (total 1 724) PPrestigious awardee (total 16) YPromising young researcher (total 483) L 22 (no longer current) TOTAL 2 959

12 Of the top 11 SA universities 1 st = UCT with 412 RR, 38.86% of staff total of th = Unisa with 133 RR, 8.78% of staff total of th = NWU with 144 RR, 12.06% of staff total of 1 194

13 MENTORING TOWARDS AN INTERNATIONAL PROFILE AND PRODUCING HIGH QUALITY WORK Encouragement to students/staff to be situated in a research field that is personally pleasurable, rewarding, obsessional, lifelong, has potential for growth and conceptual development Share networks and international connections Engagement with a research topic that is of wide and significant interest – adding to an established body of knowledge, a promising research field Ideas, concepts and research with international purchase and relevance – more than the ‘local’ Encouragement of a strong need to ‘make a difference’ and contribute Encouragement to work hard … and work effectively

14 Regularly re-consider and reflect on research philosophy and trajectory and planning for mentor and mentee – updated every 5/6 years. How do you want to contribute? Make yourself visible How will your work extend into the future? Seek prizes and other awards, join editorial boards and disciplinary societies Offer to review other people’s work

15 Networking and collaborating for both mentor and mentee (academic citizenship) Make contact with others in your research area Suggest co-authorship of articles (conference papers could be a start) Position yourself as a leader – even if you work harder than the others on the paper with you Reply timeously to s, never miss a deadline

16 Putting research ‘out there’ Interact with international colleagues at an individual/personal level – engage with their work, keep up a correspondence, note their professional achievements, where are they situated etc. and let them know what you are doing. Identify your research audience. Join network and H-Net groups and make your presence felt. Do not maintain a low profile. Set up personal website and use it. Research is not a lonely, selfish or isolating pursuit: just the opposite!

17 Reading & publishing Keep abreast of latest literature, engage with it, write responses, add appropriate research to others. Subscribe to all the important and relevant journals. Be aware of Scopus, ISI and other ‘rating’ and ‘measuring’ tools. Target your research to high quality international journals and monitor readership and references to your work. Enjoy and welcome the peer reviewing process, engage with it and learn from critique. Volunteer for editorial boards and editing work – great way to discover what’s happening in your field and network with peer reviewers etc. Offer to edit or co-edit special issues.

18 Get to know all the relevant journals in your field Ascertain which are the ‘top’ journals Compare local and international journals Become familiar with the leading scholars and their work Consult books and book chapters carefully Comb the web Publish in the journals of the academic communities you want to have access to your work – you will not be noticed otherwise Identify people with whom you can co-author

19 Conferences, symposia & other meetings Attend the most important and strategic. Give presentations and be visible and engaged. Negotiate panels with international peers. Don’t regard meetings as travel destinations but networking opportunities and a chance to ‘sell’ yourself and, more importantly, your research. Arrange conferences and other meetings with peers and fellow scholars. Encourage others. Accept keynote invitations and be inclusive. Volunteer / offer seminar presentations and attend those by others.

20 Don’t chase just any conference: plan strategically Conferences are academic communities so make sure that you want to belong to them Plan around conferences in your specialised field or disciplinary areas Be sure to attend conferences of your scholarly society Participate in presentations: ask questions, make a contribution, offer your thinking Let people remember you as a scholar who engages

21 RESEARCH MENTORING SHOULD BE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL AND A LEARNING AND ENRICHMENT PROCESS FOR ALL PARTIES INVOLVED

22 THE NRF RATING PROCESS IS AN IDEAL SITUATION IN WHICH TO ACHIEVE THIS Mentor and mentee share the aim of rating and/or rating improvement (although different levels) Power relations are flattened and goals – and the whole enterprise – are shared Research desiderata are common ones Collegial, collaborative and non-combative relationship Many aspects of mentorship to explore, e.g. publication, networking, conferences etc.

23 PERSONAL BENEFIT MENTOR AND MENTEE WILL BE REQUIRED TO THINK THROUGH ISSUES THAT YOU NEED TO CONFRONT IN AN ACADEMIC CAREER AND THAT ARE PART OF AN AGENDA OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT WHAT HAVE YOU ACHIEVED? WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR CAREER? WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE? HOW WILL YOU ACHIEVE IT? YOU WILL RECEIVE FEEDBACK

24 Thank you!

25 ‘Y’ category researcher ‘Young researchers (40 years or younger), who have held the doctorate or equivalent qualification for less than five years at the time of application, and who are recognised as having the potential to establish themselves as researchers within a five-year period after evaluation, based on their performance and productivity as researchers during their doctoral studies and/or early post-doctoral careers.’ Y 1: ‘A young researcher (within 5 years from PhD) who is recognised by all reviewers as having the potential (demonstrated by research products) to establish him/herself as a researcher with some of them indicating that he/she has the potential to become a future leader in his/her field.’ Y 2: ‘A researcher in this group is recognised by all or the overriding majority of reviewers as having the potential to establish him/herself as a researcher (demonstrated by recent research products).’

26 ‘ P’ CATEGORY RESEARCHER: ‘Young researchers (normally younger than 35 years of age), who have held the doctorate or equivalent qualification for less than five years at the time of application, and who, on the basis of exceptional potential demonstrated in their published doctoral work and/or their research outputs in their early post-doctoral careers are considered likely to become future international leaders in their field.’ Researchers in this group are recognised by all or the overwhelming majority of reviewers as having demonstrated the potential of becoming future international leaders in their field on the basis of exceptional research performance and output from their doctoral and/or early post-doctoral research careers.

27 ‘Established researchers with a sustained recent record of productivity in the field who are recognised by their peers as having produced a body of quality work, the core of which has coherence and attests to ongoing engagement with the field, demonstrated the ability to conceptualise problems, and apply research methods to investigating them.’ C 1: ‘While all reviewers concur that the applicant is an established researcher (as described), some of them indicate that he/she already enjoys considerable international recognition for his/her high quality recent research outputs.’ C 2: ‘All or the overriding majority of reviewers are firmly convinced that the applicant is an established researcher.’ C 3: ‘Most of the reviewers concur that the applicant is an established researcher.’ ‘C’ CATEGORY RESEARCHER

28 ‘B’ CATEGORY RESEARCHER ‘Researchers who enjoy considerable international recognition by their peers for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs.’ B 1: ‘All reviewers concur that the applicant enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs, with some of them indicating that he/she is a leading international scholar in the field.’ B 2: ‘All or the overriding majority of reviewers are firmly convinced that the applicant enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs.’ B 3: ‘Most of the reviewers are convinced that the applicant enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs.’

29 ‘A’ CATEGORY RESEARCHER ‘Researchers who are unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs.’ A 1: ‘A researcher in this group is recognised by all reviewers as a leading scholar in his/her field internationally for the high quality and wide impact (i.e. beyond a narrow field of specialisation) of his/her recent research outputs.’ A 2: ‘A researcher in this group is recognised by the overriding majority of reviewers as a leading scholar in his/her field internationally for the high quality and impact (either wide or confined) of his/her recent research outputs.’


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