Research grouping reviews

Overview of the three-year review process

Emerging research groupings (i.e. groups in the early stages of development) that applied for three-year accreditation undergo an initial internal review after three years. This review focuses on the extent to which the team members are collaborating successfully as a group. If this criterion is met, the research grouping converts to the five-year accreditation cycle. If this criterion is not met, its accreditation will be withdrawn.

Overview of the five-year review process

The five-year review process provides an opportunity to reflect on what a URC-accredited research grouping has accomplished to date, and to plan strategically for the next five-year period. It increases visibility of the group’s research endeavours and provides an opportunity for benchmarking by international and national experts in the field. It also creates an opportunity to expose the broader academic community to issues and challenges that a research grouping might have and to get informed input on their operation. Lastly, it helps to increase awareness of the research and provides an opportunity to showcase what gets done in a way that is not possible when operating 'under the radar'.

In 2003, UCT established a review process of research groupings authorised by the URC and co-ordinated by the URC sub-committee, the Committee on Research Reviews (CRR).

The Research Office is responsible for co-ordinating the logistical arrangements of the research groupings review process. The process involves the following steps:

  • The research grouping is informed at least one year ahead of time that they are due for their five-year review .
  • The date of the review is finalised once the availability of the chair of the review is determined. This is also subject to availability of the two external reviewers.
  • A review panel is appointed, which consists of the relevant deans, heads of departments and members of the URC, as well as two external experts in the relevant field and one or two UCT internal reviewers.
  • The director of each research grouping is issued a deadline by which they are required to submit the grouping’s self-review portfolio (SRP) outlining the previous five years. Please consult the guidelines for preparing the self-review portfolio (see appendix 1 in the guidelines for accredited research groupings).
  • The SRP is submitted to the Research Office at least six weeks before the review.
  • The SRP is circulated among the relevant representatives ahead of the review session.
  • At the review session, the research grouping gives a presentation followed by a discussion on the details presented in the SRP. The review typically lasts one day, depending on the size and scope of the unit to be reviewed. The review may also include a site visit, if applicable.
  • After participating in the review session, the external reviewers provide a joint external reviewers’ report which is an integral part of the evaluation process.
  • The external reviewers’ report is submitted to the review panel and the director of the research group is given an opportunity to respond to the recommendations in the report.
  • This response is forwarded to the relevant dean who provides a faculty position statement taking both the external reviewers’ report and the director’s response into account.
  • These documents are tabled at a CRR meeting to which both the director and dean are invited to attend. This meeting provides the director and the dean the opportunity to discuss the recommendations from the external reviewers’ report and to possibly reach consensus on the way forward for the research grouping. The post-review discussion creates a platform for deliberation between the director and dean in conjunction with members of the CRR.

Review areas

The research reviews focus on the following areas:  

  • appropriateness of the grouping's title and classification as a ‘unit’, ‘centre’ or ‘institute’ in terms of the guidelines for accredited research groupings
  • the extent to which the research grouping has followed the guidelines for preparing the SRP (see appendix 1 in the Guidelines for Accredited Research Groupings)
  • strengths and weaknesses of the research grouping, based on the information provided in the self-review portfolio and the review meeting
  • strategic and financial plan/report/budget for the past five years and projections for the next five years (including details of major sponsors, clients and external stakeholders) against which progress can be assessed
  • description of the organisational structure (organogram), as well as a detailed listing of the major sponsors, clients and external stakeholder relationships • quality of the research activities
  • quality of the governance structure that monitors these activities and initiates improvements where needed (for example, does an advisory board have full oversight of the research grouping’s activities?)
  • details on any links to other research groupings or networks (these are encouraged and must be clearly defined and articulated)
  • focus and future direction of the research grouping
  • future governance and succession planning of the research grouping
  • financial model of the research grouping, including its sustainability in terms of staffing and operating costs
  • capacity-building programme as evident in postgraduate and postdoctoral participation.

Please note that research groupings have the opportunity to comment on the current review process and to make recommendations on how to refine it.

Contact details

Should you have any queries, please contact:

Roshan Sonday
Tel: 021 650 2426