Wits is a research intensive university that aspires to increase this intensity in such a manner that it is increasingly internationally competitive and locally relevant. The current strategic plan for research and postgraduate affairs strives to increase the production of ‘research with impact’. Impactful research is quality research that is defined carefully to include:
- Discovery research that propels a discipline forward;
- Translational research that influences policy and practice;
- Innovative research that stimulates economic development.
Achievement of this lofty goal will depend on growing new generations of research capability. In the South African context this research development imperative is closely linked to demographic transformation.
Consequently, the University Research Office drives a number of initiatives that aim to grow future generations of scholars publishing research with impact. The programmes encourage development within the conceptual framework illustrated below.
Conceptual Framework for the development of research capacity
The support programmes that aim to achieve this development are built around the ‘4G’ Development Model (M Perutz, ‘Rita and the Four Gs’, Nature, 338,791 (1988)). As conceived in German, the four Gs include “Geschick, Geduld, Geld und Glück” which loosely translate into:
- Peripheral knowledge – the ‘art and craft’ of doing research;
- Patience – juggling the elements necessary for research into one place at one time;
- Money – funding an important driver of research;
- Luck – the skill to recognise and grasp opportunities.
- Mentoring/coaching – One-on-one discussions with experienced researchers;
- Skills enhancement – Knowledge sharing;
- Advocacy – Assisting to remove or reduce (internal) hindrances to research;
- Recognition – Recognising achievements;
- Exploiting networks – linking researchers with appropriate funders, for example.
Recently the scope of the support programme has been enlarged to include a holistic approach to the development of early career academics. Teaching and learning, including postgraduate student supervision, and service are also supported in a programme run in collaboration with the Centre for Learning and Teaching Development (CLTD).
If you are interested in participating in one of these programmes and you are on the Wits staff role then you should contact Dr Robin Drennan (Robin.Drennan@wits.ac.za) or Mrs Candice Michael (Candice.Michael@wits.ac.za).