New insights will drive scientific endeavours

Professor Cloete, vice-rector: research and innovation, Stellenbosch University. (Photo: Stellenbosch University)

Professor Cloete, vice-rector: research and innovation, Stellenbosch University. (Photo: Stellenbosch University)

South Africa’s standing in the global scientific community has been growing steadily over the past few decades on the back of increased output and the quality of our research. These and future achievements will be given even greater prominence by the work being done at the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (SciSTIP) at Stellenbosch University.

Professor Eugene Cloete, the university’s vice-rector of research and innovation, explains that scientific enterprise around the world is producing an incredible amount of information that requires a more concerted effort to track and measure the performance of individual countries, institutions and researchers.

“SciSTIP will therefore be measuring both scientific quality and impact, which goes beyond counting only the number of publications to take account of non-academic outputs from research,” he says. “We will, for instance, be looking to identify areas of expertise at institutions around the world in order to make collaboration efforts more effective.

“This will be to the benefit of the entire scientific community as it will determine research direction in order to promote outcomes with national priorities in mind.

“The vision for SciSTIP is to improve decision-making with regards to science policy, based on scientific evidence,” Cloete explains. This evidence will include detailed analysis of all academic research being conducted in the country — at both an individual and institution level. The resulting research profiles will direct research investments on a national scale.

“There are clear benefits in housing such a function in a single entity,” he adds. “It will provide a huge quantity of management intelligence and valuable data.

“We are very proud to be entrusted with hosting this Centre of Excellence, the fourth at Stellenbosch University.”