Project time line: ongoing

Postdoctoral research fellows, or “postdocs” are an important group of emerging scholars about which we have very little information at a national level. We do not have such basic information as the number of postdocs by scientific field, their research specialisations, their country of origin or source of funding. In addition, we have no demographic information (gender, race, nationality, age) of these postdocs that is necessary to design interventions and funding support in critical areas.

This study, commissioned by the National Research Foundation (NRF), aims to determine the quantum of postdocs in South Africa; their funding sources; their research productivity, benchmarked against the average productivity of permanent academics; with whom they collaborate in their research publications, and what are trends over time are in this regard; the quality of their research publications; and current postdocs’ work situation, job satisfaction, challenges, as well as career development and career intentions. Most of these descriptors will be further disaggregated by funding source and amount; type of hosting research institution; scientific discipline; and key demographics (chronological age, career age; gender, country of birth, citizenship/residency status in SA; race [South African citizens only], and country of PhD training).

The study comprises three components: (1) institutional data gathering (universities have been requested to provide us with data on the postdocs that they have hosted from 2016 to the present); (2) a bibliometric study (an analysis SciSTIP’s existing bibliometric databases); and (3) a national postdoctoral fellowship survey (an online questionnaire distributed to all current postdocs in South Africa). Together, these three components will provide the NRF and postdoc-hosting universities with a comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate, quantitative evidence on the scale and nature of postdocs in South Africa. The study will not only address significant gaps in our current understanding of postdocs in the country but will also inform policy and research-funding decisions in future, to fully realise the potential of postdocs in South Africa.

Respondents can refer to the information leaflet  for more information.

Research team

Human resources for S&T

Focus area