The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has seen a surge in its accredited academic research output. The University, which set a goal to double its accredited research output by the end of 2015, has achieved this five years ahead of schedule with its 2010 output.
The latest Research Outputs report, released by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET), indicates an impressive growth in research output and research productivity at UJ.
Between 2005 and 2009, UJ’s accredited research output grew by more than 43%, from 325 to 467 units with 60% of accredited research outputs being published in international journals. This figure jumped to 610 in 2010, exceeding the 2015 institutional target of 600 units. The 610 units consisted mostly of journal articles (85%) but also included conference proceedings, published books and chapters.
“There are many factors driving UJ’s growing success now and into the future. Given that research remains vital to national and global prosperity, and is an important indicator of the stature of a university, we have made considerable investments in research within the University resulting in the establishment and/or renewal of 29 research niches, centres and focus groups across the natural, economic, financial and management sciences, engineering and the humanities, and across technological and academic disciplines. This, in turn, has attracted some of the country’s leading minds and top postgraduate students,” says Prof Ihron Rensburg, Vice-Chancellor and Principal.
The University’s number of NRF-rated researchers has also increased by a third to 99. UJ’s number of A-rated researchers, the top echelon of South African academic achievers, now stands at five, with a rapidly-growing number of B- and C-rated researchers, while its post-doctoral fellows reached 77 at the end of 2011. “Our research efforts have not gone unnoticed and UJ has increased its distinguished National Research Foundation Chairs from zero to seven with the recent announcement that four new chairs are awarded to UJ,” says Prof Rensburg.
In addition, the Centre for Postgraduate Studies, established two years ago, is enhancing the profile of UJ’s postgraduate activity and is attracting more and more students into the research community, while also raising awareness of potential technology innovation as an outcome of postgraduate research.
“The University continues to improve our teaching, learning and research facilities to create the very best environment for our academics and students, such as the state-of-the art revamped and expanded Soweto Campus completed during 2010. With work planned to start in the second half of this year, our Doornfontein Campus is next in line for a major revamp and expansion with the focus on developing world-class Engineering and Health Sciences facilities on that campus,” says Prof Rensburg.
He concludes: “Research is one of the cornerstones of our university. UJ’s target for 2020 is one of consolidation, with a further 20% growth in research, mainly in leading and high-impact publications. This should position UJ at the upper end of universities with middle-level research productivity, immediately below the top five research-intensive institutions, all of which, unlike UJ, have medical faculties with high publication outputs, and lower teaching responsibilities. We also aim to become a country leader and innovator in the field of scientifically-informed technology by 2020.”