HERANA Phase 3 gets off the ground

HERANA Phase 3 gets off the ground

HERANA Phase 3 entitled “Institutionalising data collection and analysis to strengthen knowledge production in a group of emerging research-intensive flagship universities in sub-Saharan Africa” got underway at a three-day workshop from 18-21 November 2014 in Stellenbosch. [Click here to view the programme] The project is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and will run from November 2014 to December 2016.

The project has two main goals:

  1. To institutionalise data collection and analysis that can contribute to research-informed information, that can
  2. Contribute to a process to strengthen knowledge production in the eight participating emerging research-intensive flagship universities.

The strategies to achieve this are twofold: the institutionalisation of six years of capacity building in performance data collection within the eight HERANA network universities, combined with the promotion of developing institution-specific policies to contribute to the institutions’ knowledge-producing capabilities (which, amongst others, include enrolling and graduating more PhDs, and increasing the proportion of staff with PhDs and research output). This will form part of a larger set of activities to develop a group of research-intensive flagship universities in Africa.

At the workshop, participants generally agreed that significant progress has been made in institutionalization of data collection at African universities.

A number of trends emerged including the following:

  1. Bibliometrics data provided by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science and Technology Policy (SciSTIP), on the internationalisation of research, shows that in terms of growth of internationally co-authored journal articles, the performance profiles of the eight institutions differ significantly – both across universities, as well as within the same university across fields of science. But, overall, the numbers are steadily increasing.
  2. There is a considerable percentage increase in publication output, particularly beyond 2010, with Makerere and Ghana leading the group, and Nairobi and Botswana slowing down. 
  3. Not only is publication output going up, but published articles compared to citations for 2009-2013 shows that, for example, at Makerere, citations are rising even faster, meaning a greater presence/visibility for African science.
  4. The knowledge production in these flagship universities is internationalising, some very rapidly, and in many fields with larger citation impacts as a result. It also shows that each of the institutions have ‘centres of excellence’. However, a great concern for Africa must be that almost all are in the medical field. Universities cannot only respond to disease in Africa, they also need to contribute to economic development.  
  5. Widespread agreement that performance indicators shared amongst a group of African institutions has not only created a much greater awareness of their possible use in planning, but has also created a ‘regional standard’ for benchmarking – in that sense it is much more informative and useful than the global rankings.
  6. A core group of institutional planners has resulted from HERANA, with participants recruited as directors or advisors of higher education institutional or national planning.