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Applying for URC accreditation

In order to formalise their status, research groupings must be accredited by the University Research Committee (URC). Research groupings can apply for either three-year or five-year accreditation status. Emerging research groupings (i.e. groups in the early stages of development) generally apply for three-year research-grouping accreditation, provided the application meets all accreditation criteria (see below). The research grouping must provide motivation for active research collaboration following accreditation. Additionally, all accredited research groupings are subject to a five-year review in order to maintain their status.

Types of research groupings

Research groupings must take into consideration whether they meet the criterial of a unit, centre or institute in order to apply for the relevant accreditation status.

Table 1: Descriptions of the three types of research groupings.

 

 

Three year accreditation

 

 

Five year accreditation

 

 

   

Nomenclature measurements

Research unit

Research unit

Research centre

Research institute

Research mandate

A clear research agenda must be articulated to ensure research output, including publications, postgraduate supervision up to PhD level, and financial sustainability. This should include objectives and criteria against which the grouping will be assessed at the three-year review. 

A focused research mandate that may span across disciplines or rest with one discipline.

A broad research mandate that may span across disciplines or rest with one discipline. 

A broad research mandate (with wide-ranging research questions) that spans across disciplines. 

Management structure

A formal management structure with a director and a team of researchers. 

A formal management structure with a director and a team of researchers. 

A formal management structure with a director and a team of researchers.

Institutes are housed in a defined, visible space.

A formal management structure with a director and several research teams, which are individually headed by team leaders.

Together they constitute a large-scale network of researchers.

Categorisation of membership based on the percentage of time spent in the institute is encouraged. Membership categories would, for example, include full, affiliate, associate and adjunct members, thus indicating varying degrees of time commitment to the institute. 

Minimum core team staffing requirements

Two permanent academic staff members of whom one must be the director. The director must be housed within a department and the research grouping must be affiliated to a faculty.

Two permanent academic staff members of whom one must be the director. The director must be housed within a department and the research grouping must be affiliated to a faculty.

More than two permanent academic staff members of whom one must be the director.

The director must be housed within a department and the research grouping must be affiliated to a faculty.

Five or more academic staff members, of whom one must be the director. A considerable portion of their time and commitment must be dedicated to the institute.

The director must be housed within a department and the research grouping must be affiliated to a faculty.

Team credentials and requirements

The director should hold a PhD and should be an established research scholar. The core team members should have some track record in postgraduate supervision, a publication history and writing funding proposals.

The director should hold a PhD and should be an established research scholar. The core team must spend at least 50% of their time on the research agenda of the grouping.  The director should usually have considerable international standing. The core team must spend at least 50% of their time on the research agenda of the grouping.

The director should be a distinguished international researcher.

Team leaders should have considerable international standing. The core team must spend at least 50% of their time on the research agenda of the grouping

Expected collaborations* beyond the research grouping

If collaboration is not yet in place, the application should clearly motivate why and how collaboration would occur and what the envisaged collective outputs would be in relation to the proposed research agenda.

Extensive and relevant institutional collaborations.

Members that belong to other accredited groupings must produce distinct bodies of work to qualify as members of more than one grouping.

Extensive and relevant institutional and national collaborations; and relevant international collaborations.

Members that belong to other accredited groupings must produce distinct bodies of work to qualify as members of more than one grouping.

Extensive and relevant institutional, national and international collaborations.

Members that belong to other accredited groupings must produce distinct bodies of work to qualify as members of more than one grouping.

 

*The term ‘collaborations’ should be widely interpreted. It could range from informal networking and demonstrated cognisance of other knowledge areas, to full-scale extensive research collaborations and co-authored publications.

Guidelines for accredited research groupings

Note: Applications for the URC accreditation of research groupings require sign-off by the relevant head(s) of department and dean(s) in terms of the proposed grouping's location and administrative home.

Assessment criteria

A proposal for establishing a research grouping will be assessed against the following criteria:

Groupings that are able to meet these criteria: On accreditation, the group will immediately enter the five-year cycle, which means they will be reviewed five years after being accredited. The review panel includes expert-peers external to UCT.
Groupings that are not yet able to meet these criteria: The group will need to provide a clearly motivated application that explains how collaboration will occur and what the envisaged collective outputs will be in relation to the proposed research agenda, once granted accreditation. If these conditions are satisfied, the group will achieve three-year accreditation. This means it will be reviewed after three years by an internal panel to assess evidence of a collaborative body of work that resulted from the accreditation. If approved, the grouping enters the five-year review cycle. If not, the grouping’s three-year accreditation is withdrawn.

 

  1. The benefit of formalising the collaboration into a research grouping: What is the strategic gain of formalising the research grouping?
  2. Research agenda: How well is the grouping's research agenda defined? Is there a set of ongoing projects that are interlinked or focused around a common theme? Are the broad timelines and team responsibilities appropriately articulated?
  3. Collaborations or networks - Are linkages to other research groupings clearly defined and articulated? Members that belong to other accredited groupings must produce distinct bodies of work to qualify as members of more than one grouping.
  4. Non-financial support: Are the required infrastructural resources, such as space, support staff and equipment, readily available and accessible?
  5. Current financial viability: Does the proposed grouping have current financial viability in terms of operational costs, human capital development resources and infrastructural support?
  6. Future sustainability: Is there a clear three-year budget forecast to enable sustainability in terms of staffing and operating costs?
  7. Quality of collaborative research outputs: Is there good evidence of generating high-quality research in relation to the research agenda over the past three-to-five years as a collective group? The quality of the research activities are reflected in measurable outputs such as accredited, peer-reviewed publications, funding generated through grants and/or contracts, throughput of postgraduate students and the registration of patents.
  8. Human capital development: is there evidence of current postgraduate student participation in the grouping? AND is there evidence of a proactive student recruitment strategy?
  9. Equity and redress: Is there a development plan, if appropriate, to assure transformation in terms of equity imperatives?
  10.  Governance structure: Is there evidence of an effective governance structure to monitor activities and initiate improvements.
  11. Proposal eligibility: Does the proposal appropriately address the nomenclature guidelines of a ‘unit’, ‘centre’ or ‘institute’? The purpose of the nomenclature guidelines is to assure internal consistency as well as alignment with international good practice. The URC will exercise discretion where a change in nomenclature would impinge on the branding strategy or established reputation of a grouping that is already fully operational.