SRPC Organises Promotion and NRF Rating Application Workshop
The School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) organised a promotions and NRF rating applications workshop for its staff. A first for UKZN, the workshop highlighted processes and procedures necessary for promotion and NRF rating applications.
Dean and Head of the School, Professor Johannes Smit, said: ‘The driver for this workshop was that when academics are ready to apply for a promotion, they are usually also ready to also apply for an NRF rating.
‘Since promotion assumes meeting University benchmarks set by Senate for the different academic levels, it simultaneously flags the readiness of our staff to also meet or even exceed the NRF benchmarks of the different rating categories.’
Smit pointed out that there were five major NRF rating categories: A, B, C, P, and Y. A-rated researchers comprise those unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs.
C-rated researchers are established researchers with a sustained recent record of productivity in the field and who are recognised by their peers as having produced a body of quality work, the core of which has coherence and attests to on-going engagement within the field.
The P category contains researchers usually younger than 35 while the Y category contains those under 40. According to Smit, the process that leads to a rating is fair but rigorous. The rating outcome is the result of a peer reviewed system with inbuilt checks and balances ensuring the rating is a fair reflection of the value attached to an academics’s research.
In his presentation, Professor Gerald West, a B-rated researcher, pointed out that even though the purpose of the application was to achieve a rating, an important secondary purpose was the conceptualising of one’s work.
‘An application provides an academic with the opportunity to critically reflect and delimit their field of specialisation and also whether their research is indeed focused. It also indicates whether the academic involved is systematically busy engaging the scientific domain and whether there is indeed on-going commitment to the relevant research themes aligned to the research focus,’ said West.
With regard to the suggestion of reviewers being involved in an application to the NRF, West recommended that an applicant should rather not select an individual who would rave about their research but rather fellow academics who would be able to provide a considerate but fair academic assessment of research outputs.
Professor Sarojini Nadar, the College of Humanities Dean of Research, addressed the workshop on issues related to both promotion and NRF rating applications. On the issue of promotion, she emphasised the care needed to be taken in compiling a teaching and learning portfolio as well as the evidence of the applicant’s research outputs.
On promotion applications, Mrs Thiruveni Moodley of QPA, delivered an excellent presentation on the promotion application process, with special detailed explanations of the evaluation process of Teaching Portfolios that accompanied an application for promotion.
‘There are mainly two trajectories through which one could apply - to be evaluated mainly on one’s research outputs, or on both research output and the evaluation of one’s teaching and learning,’ she said. ‘If one chooses to be evaluated solely on one’s research outputs, one still needs to prepare and submit a Teaching Portfolio. All our staff who apply for promotions must be excellent in Teaching and Learning, or at least score a “strength”.’
The SRPC has 13 rated NRF researchers and aims to have at least 20 by 2016.
- Melissa Mungroo