06 November 2014 Volume :2 Issue :56

Planning an Academic Career Explored at Workshop


Academics from the College of Law and Management Studies attended a seminar where they heard about how to plan and develop a successful career.

The seminar, facilitated by the College’s Dean of Research, Professor Marita Carnelley,  involved UKZN’s prolific researchers, Professor Shannon Hoctor and Professor Mike Kidd from the School of Law as well as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Commercialisation, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, engaging with academics about long-term planning for NRF-rating, funding and the importance of research and publication.

Carnelley said the aim of the seminar was to get academics to look 20 years hence and assess what they should be doing to ensure they maintained a balance between teaching and research and were aware of opportunities they could take advantage of to further their careers.

Speaking about the importance of research and publication, Hoctor told academics they needed to build their profiles by presenting at conferences and covering all aspects of their work through short and long term planning.

‘As an academic, you have to be an expert in your field and conferencing gives you the opportunity to do that. It lets people know what you are doing and allows other scholars in your field to give feedback on your research which is important,’ he said.

Hoctor also spoke about the importance of mentorship, how to formulate research ideas and the importance of honing teaching skills.

‘As you mature as an academic, you have a responsibility to mentor your students and to remain passionate about your field so that you can publish articles which identify you as an expert in your field.  You have to divide your time adequately between teaching and learning and seek knowledge through reading and writing,’ he said.

Planning for NRF rating was the topic of the presentation by Kidd who is an NRF-rated researcher. He shared his experience of going through the process as well as what the benefits are of an NRF rating for an academic and the University.

Ramjugernath’s presentation, titled: “Building your Research Profile: Tips and Experiences”, emphasised that being an academic or a researcher was not just a job but also a lifestyle aimed at developing the next generation of leaders.

‘‘An academic career is all about having a great support system, collaboration and linkages. You have to use every opportunity to incorporate research in your teaching because undergraduate students are impressionable so you need to show them that research can be used as a vehicle for social upliftment,’ he said.

Thandiwe Jumo

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