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Human resources indicators for water research in South Africa: strategy for the development of a water research database of theses in South Africa
Expanded Title:Executive Summary This document has been prepared on the request of the Water Research Commission (WRC) in order to inform “The Pulse Study on the State of Water R&D in South Africa”. The investigation is a first attempt to obtain a quantitative account of the production of post-graduate students related to water research in South Africa. Water related research is a multidisciplinary activity and students can undertake relevant research in different academic departments which are not always directly related to water activities. For example, water related research can be performed in faculties of engineering, science; social sciences and so on. As such the identification of post-graduates working in the field of water is a challenging activity. For the purposes of this investigation we developed a series of relevant descriptors and identified all masters and PhD theses awarded during the period 2000-2011 by the country’s higher education institutions. The findings, using the NEXUS database, show that there were awarded 250 PhDs and 1331 Masters of different types (e.g. MSc; MA, etc.) during the period. These figures are considered adequate for the South African reality. South Africa is producing a small number of post-graduate students in general and in comparison to the field of energy, another multidisciplinary field, the field of water produces four times as many post-graduate students. It is mentioned that all scientific disciplines produced 1380 PhDs during 2009 (according to HEMIS of the Department of Higher Education and Training) The ranking of the country’s higher education institutions according to the number of PhDs and/or Masters they produce exhibits variability because of the small number of post-graduates being produced. Content analysis further indicates that the theses emphasise local conditions and identify topics of focus. The final chapter “Discussion and Recommendations” elaborates on the findings and advances the following recommendations: • Monitoring the production of post-graduates is a critical issue in science, technology and innovation policy internationally and for South Africa in particular. The WRC, as the custodian of water related research, should consider developing a relevant database of PhD and Masters awarded by the country’s higher education institutions. Such a database will be useful for scientometric investigations and will be also a knowledge repository • The “Pulse Study” of the WRC has initiated and supported the collections of data related to science, technology and innovation policy in the country. These include research outputs; inventive statistics and in this report human resourced development. WRC should consider completing the relevant set of main indicators (e.g. including funding for water related research and development) and publish regularly a report describing the state of water research in South Africa. Such a document will provide valuable information to policy makers; researchers and relevant industry. • The international literature related to indicators in general and human resources in particular provides guidance on policy issues that should be investigated further. For example, will those completing post-graduate studies related to water find employment? Do they remain in the water environment or move to other fields? What is the unemployment rate – short term and long term – of those post-graduates? • The dispersion of research and the content analysis indicate a lack of research focus in the country. The WRC should consider undertaking some form of prioritization exercise (e.g. foresight) in order to guide the research community. • The identified distributed presence of water research in the country has been identified also in previous investigations. The phenomenon may adversely affect productivity and economies of scale in the field. It will be important for the WRC to examine the issue further and take appropriate action (e.g. establish centers of expertise with critical mass of researchers in focus areas and similar).
Date Published:01/04/2014
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:R & D - Information technology, R & D - Methodology
Document Keywords:Technology
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Consultant
WRC Report No:KV 327/14
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0524-0
Authors:Pouris A
Project Leader:Pouris A
Project No:K8/1050
Originator:WRC
Organizations:University of Pretoria
Document Size:725 KB
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