Dr. Linda Mtwisha Of UCT Advocates For A National Framework For Research Impact Assessments.

The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) executive director of research, Dr. Linda Mtwisha, stated that in order to prevent universities lacking sufficient funding and research capacity from suffering, it is essential to create a national system for evaluating the impact of research.

One of the 89 recognized research groups at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and one of seven multidisciplinary research bodies conducting socioeconomic impact research is the Children’s Institute.

According to Dr. Linda Mtwisha, Executive Director: Research at UCT, “such impact includes having protected 31 000 children from losing the Child Support Grant while the team of seven researchers continues to produce an average of about 21 peer-reviewed publications annually.”

 

At the Research and Innovation Dialogue, which took place in Umhlanga on September 21 and 22, Dr. Mtwisha spoke on the subject of “Towards assessing research and innovation impact at a university level: the UCT journey.” She participated in a panel at the Dialogue that addressed the impact of research and innovation.

As per Dr. Mtwisha, the Children’s Institute demonstrated that at UCT, social responsiveness and engaged scholarship are not viewed as distinct fields of study. It is completely integrated into research and teaching operations. And I believe that explains why there have been so many excellent research impact instances.

She continued by saying that while UCT’s research impact stories are not well recognized inside or outside the institution, the Faculty of Health Sciences has distinguished itself for its significant research due to its clinical research that is responsive to social demands and policies. This is preventing collaboration, thus they are trying to improve it.

 

Even though this strategy is not formalized within the university, she said that an increasing number of UCT scholars are carrying out significant research outside of its academic walls. Research impact is not sufficiently recognized internally because scholars are not sufficiently acknowledged or compensated for it.

 

UCT’s massive transformation goal

Nonetheless, Mtwisha stated that UCT is dedicated to placing its scholars to address societal issues. UCT Vision 2030, which aims to “unleash human potential for a fair and just society,” is the foundation for this.

We won’t be able to recognize it by ourselves. It’s a hugely revolutionary goal that necessitates collaborations amongst all economic sectors on the continent, she added. She said that the voyage is lengthy and fraught with difficulties.

 

Therefore, they were considering:

• what defines impact in research;

• how can UCT measure impact beyond bibliometrics; and

• how to make the new ways of accessing research part of their foundation.

Therefore, they were thoughtful. Impact is inextricably linked to excellent research.

UCT is emphasizing research impact interactions more and more. Since 2018, they have held a number of talks in which they have asked officials, business leaders, and members of the National Research Foundation (NRF) to participate and discuss how this would affect their work on.

The socioeconomic impact “does not take away from high-quality academic products such as peer-reviewed papers,” the speaker added, citing results including technical reports, patents, policy briefs, and altered social behavior. We are witnessing situations when these two results go hand in hand. It’s ‘and,’ not ‘either or,'” she declared.

 

UCT and policies

She listed a string of policies that UCT has aligned itself to. The Research Data Management Policy (2018) that “really set the tone at UCT” because it “indicated the seriousness with which we are embracing research impact”.

 

In 2019 UCT stated its support for the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which recognises the need to improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated.

 

One problem is that because these are guidelines, they are adopted inconsistently, although some have made them part of their promotions processes. “It’s a cultural thing. Until it’s a policy, people are going see it as a nice-to-have, but we are working on it,” she said.

 

UCT has established a committee that is defining what research impact is in the context of UCT, and how they will measure it.

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