UCT leads research systems - NRF

24 August 2009

NRF ResearchersThe best: (From left) Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, VC Dr Max Price, DVC Prof Danie Visser and Marilet Sienaert, director of the research office, at the launch of the 2008 Research Report.

UCT is the backbone of the research system in South Africa, and its average impact factor has been increasing - an exception to what has been happening in other universities.

This is the view of Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, recently-appointed president of the National Research Foundation (NRF). He was speaking at a function to celebrate UCT's NRF-rated researchers, and to launch the university's 2008 Research Report.

Van Jaarsveld assured researchers that his organisation is fully committed to research. He said the NRF would continue to fund an incentive system for rated researchers in the next few years.

He spoke of the Competitive Funding Scheme to be launched later this year, which is open to discipline-based research programmes.

"Our thinking is that there is a lot of strategic money going to research in particular areas, and there is very little money going to the support of fundamental, basic research."

As money becomes available from Focus Area programmes, it will be channelled to support discipline-based work.

"We think a healthy research system should not be about focus only, but should have diversity. Otherwise we will all be doing the same kind of research 10 years down the line."

Van Jaarsveld reminded researchers to apply for the five Square Kilometre Array-related Research Chairs in radio astronomy, which will soon be advertised, and to participate in the NRF peer review process "to turn the NRF into an organisation that we will all be proud of".

The Research Report shows an increase of 12% in accredited research output and an increase of 26% in total research income (to R651.7 million) in 2008.

UCT also saw an increase in awards to postgraduate students, to R83 million. At the end of 2008, UCT researchers held 728 grants from the NRF, valued in excess of R176 million.

Copies of the report are currently being distributed by the Research Office. Additional copies may be requested by contacting Christina Pather.

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