26 August 2019

The results of a comprehensive study on the state of the South African research enterprise, which has taken four year to complete, have just been released by CREST.

The study, which was commissioned by the NRF in 2015, arguably provides the most comprehensive assessment of the state and recent trends of South African research.

The report consists of four main parts: the first part (International benchmarking) compares the performance of the SA research enterprise with four sets of countries (the lead countries in the world, eight comparator countries, the top African countries and the BRICS countries); the second part (historical benchmarking) presents an overview of SA’s performance in terms of investment in research, human resources capacity and research performance (output, world share, world rank, collaboration trends, citation impact and research transformation) over the past 15 years. The third part – scientific field assessment – presents detailed results on an assessment of six main fields (agriculture, engineering, health sciences, humanities, the natural sciences and social sciences) in terms of NRF funding, research capacity (including trends in doctoral enrolments and graduations) and research performance. The final section of the report – strategic research assessment – presents an analysis of six strategic fields (agriculture and food security research , climate and environmental research, educational research, energy research, health research and water research).

In each case we assess to what extent the investment and human resources capacity in these strategic fields are adequate, what the knowledge expertise in each domain is, what the current research priorities are and whether these align with international (SDG) and national (NDP) goals.