Featured articles

predators in open access publishing » Agreement's signed, now what?» ‘Pioneer group’ in South African health research and development meet at first NRF Community of Practice (CoP) workshop » is crowdsourcing a viable research funding alternative?  »  university of pretoria and the african centre of excellence for information ethics (ACEIE) cements relations with UNESCO  »  research grants management division: empowering researchers through administrative support  »  up researchers win at the 17th nstf awards  »  university hosts carnegie diaspora fellows  »  revelations from the microcosm on small mammals  »  technology innovation agency (TIA) on funding technological development  »  research support divisions are 'able to understand all the issues that impact researchers' - funding management system head at tia  »  director of wellcome trust on the research and innovation ecosystem  »  consider taking a study sabbatical - q&a with a phd student and senior lecturer  »  developing an ethical african information society through education  »  how to keep up-to-date with your research funding opportunities  »  open science to find effective solutions to global challenges  »  university of fort hare community development research programme - its cases and challenges  »  funding alerts - a hassle-free way to find research funds  »  Top 13 resources to easily secure research funds

Developments in research administration at UP

Nolwandle Zondi
03 June 2016

This article covers the recent developments in research administration as discussed at the Faculty Research Administrators Meeting.

The Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS) held a Faculty Research Administrators Meeting. The Meeting was organised to give the research administrators an update on the state of research at the University of Pretoria (UP), new developments on research grants programmes, and hand out the DRIS Matrix. The Budget tool, which is currently in development, was revealed.

The amount of research funding UP has received increased in 2015. However, the Research Administrators are experiencing difficulties with coordinating and tracking applications. 

There have been some changes to the Technology and Human Resource for Industry Programme (THRIP) and Thuthuka grant. 


The THRIP is a funding programme established by the national Department of Trade and Industry (dti). Researchers partner up with industry partners to conduct research projects. The government, through dti, provides a portion of the funds and industry funds the rest. Unlike previous years, academics no longer applies for the grant but their industry partner(s) apply on their behalf. 

John Visagie is the manager of THRIP at UP. He can be contacted at: 012 420 2263, or email him at john.visagie@up.ac.za.


As from 2017 onwards, new and continuing Thuthuka grant holders will receive support for:

  • running costs, including materials and supplies;
  • small- to medium-sized equipment;
  • student support;
  • conference, course, and workshop attendance;
  • visiting scientists; and
  • technical assistance
Eligible PhD applicants and continuing grant holders need to take note that they must be nominated in the Sabbatical Grant for completing doctoral studies if they require sabbatical leave. The Thuthuka grant no longer supports lecturer replacement and sabbaticals.

National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Sabbatical Grants

The NRF Sabbatical Grant for completing doctoral studies was also discussed. Researchers interested in applying for this grant need to apply via DRIS, and the Research Grants Management division will apply for them and approve their application on the NRF system.

DRIS will be hosting an information session for the nominees on 20 June 2016. In an effort to help Sabbatical applicants produce the best possible applications, DRIS has set up a review panel which the applicants will be a part of. The date of the review panel is still to be confirmed.

South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI)

The SARChI internal application process was also on the agenda. DRIS is busy with mapping the process so as to ensure that researchers know how the process works and who is responsible for which stage. The attending Administrators were requested to suggest names of researchers that would be willing to take part in Communities of Practice (CoP). The NRF established the CoP funding instrument for Chairs to create forums that will come up with real-life solutions to societal challenges for the benefit of society.

Administrators were told to take note of the difference between UP’s and the NRF’s student working hours. The NRF allows for 12 hours per week, while UP allows 20 hours per week.

Budget tool

Finally, the Budget tool was shown to the Administrators. The webite, which is currently in development, was designed to make budgeting for research projects easier and less time consuming. The Department wants to establish a test group of 15 researchers to test the website’s functionality. Interested faculty Research Administrators were invited to take part in the group.

If you are interested in taking part in the focus group, contact Ninette Mouton at ninette.mouton@up.ac.za. You’ll be able to create the budget that you will use for your research project.

Back up top ^

Predators in Open Access Publishing

Nolwandle Zondi
17 May 2016 

While working as a librarian for the Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products (SABINA), Kabelo Nzima noticed that a lot of the students that were part of the programme were receiving emails from publishers inviting them to publish in their journals. ‘They entice them that [sic] we are interested in your PhD topic and I would like for you to publish as an article. Because you are new researcher and you’ve just finished your PhD, you get excited and you give them that information but then they want you to pay,’ says Nzima. 
Being charged an article processing charge (APC) is a common practice in open access (OA) publishing. This type of publishing emerged with the transformation of journal publishing to the digital realm. There are various forms of OA publishing, and not all OA publishers charge APCs. The process of getting articles published relatively remains the same. The differences are that journals are in digital format and the waiting period between submission and publication is shorter. With predatory
OA publishers though things seem almost too good to be true. 
‘I have never heard of a big publishing company sending through an invitation for people to publish, unless it’s a new journal under that specific publishing company. Then they’ll invite people to submit but they’ll put it on their website,’ explains Nzima. The ones that directly approach researchers are usually predatory in nature.From Nzima’s experience, she has noticed that the majority of people that are spammed by predatory OAs are masters and doctoral students. They also tend to approach those from lower income countries. The pressure on non-Western researchers to get their work published in Western journals is immense, says a study on predatory open access published in BMC Medicine. In some institutions this is a prerequisite for appointment or for receiving a PhD. ‘[These are] two factors that together have been strong drivers for the emergence of the market demand for predatory publishing,' the study states.

OA publishers recognise the pressure on non-Western researchers to publish in journals from Australia, Western Europe, and the United States. To establish a reputable image, predatory publishers will try to convey their credibility through geographical association. ‘It’s difficult to tell exactly where a publisher is located so it is easy for predatory publishers to be deceitful,’ the study states. ‘If they happen to have an address (if you go to “contact us”), and you go to Google Earth or Google Maps and try to find it, it’s somewhere in India but their phone number is somewhere in America,’ Nzima explains.

OA publishers’ websites have a few tell-tale signs. ‘After seeing a lot of them you automatically can see that they are,’ Nzima says. There are a number of things to look out for when trying to identify whether an online OA journal is predatory or not. 

For publishers that claim to have their journals indexed, Nzima uses the main indexing databases like Scopus and Web of Science to check if they have any articles there.

A major red-flag with OA journals that are of a predatory nature is that they have a short review process. ‘Most of the time what worries me is the review process. It’s not supposed to take two days. If you’re going to review an article it’s going to take longer than that considering the reviewers are not sitting at a table, they are in different institutions.’

Nzima recalls a story about a researcher from the University that was a co-author on a collaborative article with a postdoctoral researcher from outside the country. The researcher then returned home with the preliminary article they had written together. ‘She told them that she’s publishing the article in this-and-that, and then she sent the co-author a link to the article. When she [the co-author] looked at it, she didn’t like [it].’ The co-author was nerved by the fact that the article had been published even though it was incomplete. ‘She called me and said to me “This is [going to bring a] bad reputation for me because I don’t want to be associated with this journal. We’ve worked on it but we were not finished. So the science is wrong; everything is wrong but it’s published, and yet the journal says that they reviewed the article.”’ Nzima recounts.

There is a list of criteria that has become the go-to guide for identifying predatory OA journals. This list, commonly known as Beall’s List, was developed by Jeffery Beall, a librarian from the University of Colorado. It contains 48 criteria that can be used to evaluate the practices of OA publishers and journals, and lists potential, possible, or probable predatory OA publishers. The List looks at the editors and staff; business management practices; and integrity among other things. Beall’s website also features an extensive list of predatory publishers. 

Here are a few points from Beall’s List that researchers can use to evaluate an OA publisher:

Editors and staff

  • The owner of the publisher is the editor of every journal the organisation publishes.
  • The journals have duplicate editorial boards.
  • For journals that claim to be international journals, there is little to no geographical diversity among the editorial board.

Business management

  • There is a lack of transparency in publishing operations.
  • The publisher starts out with a large number of journals under its organisation. They use one template so that they can generate each journal’s homepage quickly. 
  • The publisher is not forthright about their APC, sending the author an unexpected invoice.


  • The journals affiliation doesn’t relate to the organisation’s origins.
  • They falsely claim that they have actual impact factors. These are usually made up.
  • The publisher asks the author for suggestions on reviewers and then uses the suggested reviewer’s name without vetting their credentials.


  • Make bold claims like they are leading publishers despite being newly established.
  • Publish articles that aren’t academic or obvious pseudo-science.
  • Their contact page only has a web form or an email address, and they don’t reveal their location.
Predatory Publishing: Problems and Pitfalls,
an article written by Dr Jandeli Niemand et al. for ASSAf 

However, there is some controversy surrounding Beall’s List. Beall has an openly negative attitude toward the OA publishing movement. He believes that ‘The only truly successful model that I have seen is the traditional publishing model,’ and that it is an anti-corporatist movement that is attempting to make publishing a ‘cooperative and socialistic enterprise’. OA publishers have criticised Beall for focusing only on OA publishers, saying that there are many other types of predation he fails to recognise. 


Nzima explains: ‘If you go to the Open Access website where they have indexed all the journals. If you go there, some journals Beall has indexed as predatory are also on that list so you end up having to be really careful how you choose.’ 

Predatory publishers – not just OA predatory publishers – operate with one goal in mind: keep the profit margins growing. The APC model isn’t a business practice unique to OA publishing but it is its main model. It is also easier and less time-consuming to set up a website as opposed to a traditional scholarly publisher. Nzima believes that this pressure to publish first in international journals is missing the point. ‘It’s not about being in Lancet, it’s about the research being out there. That’s what matters to me: let the research be out there. So whether it’s in the South African Medical Journal or it’s in Lancet, for me it’s out there and people have access to it. Most of our South African journals are accessed by most African countries but not all African countries can afford Lancet, or Blood, or Nature journals. 

List of DHET
accredited journals

For first-time publishers, Nzima believes that they should consider going for local journals. ‘We have our local journals that we can easily publish in. They might not be indexed on Web of Science, they might not be indexed on Scopus, but they are on the DHET list. So instead of really trying to take the work outside if the country – which is good because then our researchers will be known worldwide – we could also try and publish locally first.’

University of Pretoria's Open Access policies

Policy to provide open access to research papers authored by University of Pretoria researchers

Policy on University of Pretoria electronic theses and dissertations

Policy on Open Access Publishing Processing Charges i.e. APCs

Guidelines for Application to the University of Pretoria Open Access Fund for Article Processing Charges (APCs)


Agreement signed, now what?

Nolwandle Zondi
02 February 2016

This article explains cost centres and what they mean to you.

Receiving funding is the first step towards achieving your research goals. Without funding you would not be able to pursue what you are passionate about.
After you, the University, and the funding organisation have signed the agreement, the next step is to open a cost centre. ‘Basically, cost centres are similar to bank accounts’ said Jaywanti Pillay, the accountant for the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. ‘For any researcher in the Department to manage the money, the allocated amount must be in one cost centre.’ She explained that a cost centre is linked to the principal researcher who applied for funding. One cost centre is opened under a researcher’s name. If you have a few sources of funding, each grant is allocated a cost centre number, and those cost centre numbers are linked to your cost centre.

After the contract has been signed by the relevant parties, the researcher must submit it to the Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS). ‘First port of call is that the research contract will be forwarded to the Research Office, where it is checked. It is also counter-checked by our Legal Department to ascertain whether all the information on the agreement is compatible with the University of Pretoria,’ explains Pillay. Afterwards, the faculty accountant receives the signed agreement and the checklist from the DRIS and then the accountant’s office opens a cost centre for you.

There are many different types of cost centres, each serving a different purpose. Some are used for the University’s operational cost or for hostel and residence affairs. ‘Every cost centre has its own purpose for existence [and] it can only be used for that particular purpose. You may not use it for any other purpose unless it is specified in the agreement,’ Pillay explained. Please take note of the following three:

A-Cost Centre

There are three types of A-cost centres:

  • An A-agreement is the type of account that is opened for funding that comes with contractual stipulations, or sponsorships and donations. In this case according to SARS, the applicant may have to provide a Section 18(A) certificate according to SARS.
  • An A-development cost centre is reserved for:
    - financing additional posts
    - attendance of congresses, symposia, and speciality lectures
    - official visits to local and foreign universities and professional bodies
    - registration with professional bodies, vocational council etc.
    - prizes and bursaries for students
    - purchasing books
    - entertaining guests and visitors to the departments
    - audio-visual equipment and computers, and furniture
    - financing gifts to donors, visitors, and guest lecturers
  • A-development cost centres also house funds for EU research contracts, Water Research Council (WRC) funding, and Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) seed funding.
  • An A-publication cost centre is opened for the money researchers are awarded for published articles in journals. This account must be used for financing publication and research. ‘You may not abuse the funds for personal use,’ Pillay interjected.

K-Cost Centre

  • This cost centre is a once-off  long-term account used for capital equipment like computers.
  • Each faculty and department has its own K-cost centre.
  • K-cost centres are only opened when a new department is established.

N-Cost Centre

  • This cost centre is for funding from the National Research Council Foundation (NRF).
  • Funding from the NRF comes with a few stipulations, and therefore  so the account is restricted.
  • The money must be used within the same year in which it is deposited.
  • Depending on the length of the project – if it runs for two years or more – the funds can be carried over into the following year.
Pillay emphasizes that having a cost centre is very important, not only for the University but also for the researchers themselves. ‘When we have to compile income and expenditure reports – whether it is audited or not – we use all the information from that one cost centre.’

All the different cost centres – except the N-cost centre – accumulate interest over time. The amount of interest that a deposit accrues depends on four factors: the amount deposited; the duration of time during which the funds are available in that cost centre; and spending power, that is how much you use. Funds deposited in the beginning of the year will accrue more interest than funds deposited in the middle of the year.

If there are any remaining funds in your account at the end of the contracted research project, the funder decides how it can be applied. What happens to excess funds can differ from one organisation to another. These parameters are set in the agreement. ‘When we submit a final financial report, and the funder sees excess funds are available, they will inform us [to] refund the money. Otherwise, they will just inform you to use the money for further research or towards student enhancement,’ elucidated Pillay. 

Managing the finances of your research project may pose a challenge, especially when it comes to financial reporting. Establish a good rapport with your Faculty’s accountant. This will provide you with excellent support that will result in accurate financial reporting of your research project.


‘Pioneer group’ in South African health research and development meet at first NRF Community of Practice (CoP) workshop

Nolwandle Zondi
27 August 2015

Article on the first NRF Community of Practice (CoP) in Public Health, which met at the University of the Western Cape on 25 June 2015.

‘In the last two decades of the 20th century, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (HIV, Ebola and TB) created epidemics of unprecedented proportions that undermined hard-earned survival gains made in the mid-20th century.’ This is a statement made by Prof Glenda Gray, President of the Medical Research Council (MRC).
Although unaffected by the Ebola epidemic, South Africa faces an HIV and TB levels that are well above the global average. Despite gains made over the years, incidences of HIV are 23 times the global average while TB levels are seven times higher. To have a prosperous and productive society, the South African public health system needs to tackle this epidemic with innovative solutions that focus on long-term gains and prevent resurgence. 

A response to these issues requires significant investment in health systems and, as Prof Gray pointed out, South Africa does very little of especially into widespread diseases that kills South Africans and Africans every year. The majority of research funding into healthcare comes from foreign agencies – less than 10% is being funded by South African sources. ‘The lack of local ownership of [research and development] is a huge concern. Africans are under-represented in organisations working on African health problems, and only nine to 14 percent of board members of international organisations are African,’ said Prof Gray. Africa needs to gain control over the solutions to problems that are pertinent to our society. Only we can truly know what we need.

The Department of Health rolled out the world’s largest antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programme in 2004, and it has been a tremendously successful in increasing the life expectancy of HIV/AIDS patients in the country. But there have been no recent innovations in ARV therapy. Currently there are only three lines of drugs available and no new drugs have been developed because of a disequilibrium between demand and supply in the market. ‘[D]ue to market failure no new drugs are being developed. We have to stop these infections because of the threat we will face when our third drug line runs out,’ said Prof Gray.
The MRC sees vaccines as the ‘most cost effective’ technology to address infectious diseases. Vaccines can treat most of the epidemics Africa is burdened with but there is very little research and investment in this therapy. There is a trend of over-relying on ARVs to tackle the HIV epidemic. ‘[W]e can get excited about the role of ARVs and that we are making them available, but we would not want a nation that is sustained by ARVs – that is simply not affordable,’ said Mmboneni Muofhe, Deputy-Director General: Technology Innovation at the Department of Science and Technology (DST). ‘Our present efforts are just to stem the inevitable escalation in the disease. Addressing social determinants takes a long time; a vaccine is a ‘quicker fix’,’ said Prof Gray. 

Taking the preventative approach to problems is a strategy that will make faster gains than trying to cure the disease once it has infected a patient. Vaccines do just this by targeting the host before an infection has occurred but, Prof Gray point out, vaccine production, especially for big pharma, doesn’t do much for profit margins. She explains that the pharmaceutical industry isn’t interested in developing vaccines because it requires investment in safety due to the considerable liability risk associated with researching and manufacturing them.

This is where government intervention is need: the state needs to create incentives and find new research and development models to encourage investment from big pharma. ‘The private sector is an enabler that needs to be engaged correctly. Most African governments cannot afford to do research; private sector involvement is an opportunity,’ said Dr Richard Gordon from the MRC’s Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) unit.

It is under this context in which the first National Research Foundation (NRF) Community of Practice (CoP) in Public Health met in June 2015 at the University of the Western Cape. The CoP is a platform for high-level South African scientists and researchers to collaborate in order to address national and global challenges. The DST provided seed funding but the group has to find further funding to keep it sustained. The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) will play a pivotal role in the CoP as it will be led by them.

The Initiative was established nine years ago to strengthen and improve research and innovation at public universities in the country. The goal of the DST is to have 210 established Chairs; currently there are 150 active Chairs. This goal, explained Muofhe, ‘has not been reached because of the lack of a critical mass of researchers.’ The research cohort in South Africa is fairly small: out of 1 000 employed citizens, only 1.5 are researchers.
Other objectives of the Initiative include improving our research and innovation competitiveness, attracting and retaining excellent researchers, increasing the number of masters and doctoral graduates, and creating research career pathways. South Africa may be leading research performance in Africa, but globally we have declined to 56th on the World Economic Forum’s 2014-2015 Global Competitiveness Index. South Africa contributes a miniscule 0.55% to global research and development.
SARChI has provided significant research outputs towards the drug discovery pipeline. ‘Many platforms involved in the drug discovery pipeline started out as SARChI Chairs,’ said Dr Gordon. The malaria drug discovery project, a project funded by the MRC’s SHIP unit, started in 2009 with only one SARChI Chair based at the University of Cape Town (UCT). By 2015, the project has grown into the largest malaria drug discovery project in Africa with 35 scientists and six institutions. ‘Success,’ explained Dr Gordon, ‘has come from having an open mind-set and being realistic about intellectual property (IP).’

The CoP in Public Health initiative is an endeavour that will create a vibrant and globally connected national system of innovation and foster a scientifically literate and engaged society. Success of the CoPs will be determined by whether or not:

Collaboration is going to be the lifeblood of the CoPs because these networks are established with that in mind: community. Unfortunately, the current practices at universities don’t support it. ‘The reward systems for researchers do not support collaboration. Universities receive subsidies based on publications and postgraduate throughput from a fixed budget. Universities earn lower subsidies from multiple-author collaborative publications, because the subsidy is divided among the authors,’ explained Prof Leslie London, Head of UCT’s School of Public Health and Family Medicine. There needs to be more funding that incentivises collaboration. Partnerships in science and innovation are important, especially in a resource-scarce continent like Africa, because no institution has everything.

In the 27th article of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948) it states that everyone has the right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that there is scientific advancement and the sharing of these advancements leads to the betterment of society right down to the most vulnerable. 

There needs to be continued and renewed efforts in public health innovation both in terms of systems and drug therapy. With ARVs, for example, there needs to be a Government needs to engage with the private sector more earnestly because it is an ‘enabler’. ‘Most African governments cannot afford to do research; private sector involvement is an opportunity,’ said Dr Gordon. 

Another avenue of approach suggested at the first CoP gathering is that there needs to be more commercialisation of research which will bring in further funding. A way for the Chairs to contribute to establishing institutions that can make money is to have an assistant that focusses on technological transfer and commercialisation.
The CoP in Public Health network will be playing a pivotal role in health research and development, innovation, and in advising the future of health policy in South Africa. The gathering of the various role players in the network will require some commitment from its members. There needs to be some incentive to encourage participation – only 14 out of the 29 invited Chairs responded to invitations to attend the workshop.




Is crowdsourcing a viable research funding alternative?

Nolwandle Zondi
25 August 2015

Article exploring the pros and cons of crowdfunding platforms to fund research projects.

When a researcher gets grant funding, there are at times provisos that come with the money. Some researchers have found an innovative alternative by turning to online non-profit crowdsourcing platforms like GivenGain.

The GivenGain Foundation is a Swiss non-profit organisation that was established in 2001 and it has grown to include over 111 800 donors and 4 400 cause projects. There are 14 university profiles on GivenGain. Under the University of Pretoria’s profile, The Department of Zoology and Entomology’s research network has two campaigns: the Terrestrial Animal Initiative and the Marine mammal research: Southern Ocean sentinels. ‘Without your help, we simply cannot afford these expensive satellite tracking devices! Your help will aid us in a better understanding of these vulnerable animals and promote their conservation as wild, free-roaming sentinels of the Southern Ocean,’ it says on the Marine mammal research project page. Established with the help of the Research Grants Management (RGM) division at the Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS), so far the marine mammal cause has raised R19 440, while the terrestrial initiative has raised R1 611. It is not quick and easy money, but using this platform has its advantages.

Using GivenGain as a source of research funding has fewer administrative red tape than conventional grant funding, or ‘allocated funding’. With allocated funding from agencies, there needs to be an agreement in place between the University and the agency. This is needed as allocated funding can range within the millions. ‘But now you [can] have a situation where you have an individual who feels [that] they want to contribute towards this project. They are not going to contribute millions, maybe hundreds or thousands.
‘According to the University’s procedure, if you want to contribute R100 to [a] project then you have to sign an agreement,’ explains Ninette Mouton, Head of the RGM division.

All the paper work required when drawing up and signing an agreement will most likely make a small-donor hesitant. With a GivenGain profile, researchers can direct anyone interested in donating to their campaign page. Martin Postma, a postdoctoral fellow involved in the Terrestrial Animal Initiative, makes a definitive point: ‘A R100 isn’t much but if a few people give a R100 – let’s say 10 people – and you can build it up in a GivenGain, then you’ve got a R1000.’

With allocated funds researchers have to spend a set amount on, for example, on salaries and equipment, and spending is limited to the confines of the approved budget. At the end of the project, they have to compile a report. With crowdsourcing, if a certain aspect of your project suddenly needs money, you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket – it gives you a little bit of extra cash.

Donations are defined as ‘unallocated funds’ meaning that your budget is not as restrained as with allocated funds. However, the University does conduct an audit so researchers have to keep a record of how and when the money was used.

To get a GivenGain campaign going, you will first have to set up a cost centre number with the University’s Finance Department. But with using donations, you have to motivate to the Department what this cost centre is for because there will be no agreement. The RGM division at DRIS does provide support throughout the process.
In order for a campaign to be successful, there are promotional strategies that need to be employed. The Marion Island Killer Whale project, which is under the Marine mammal campaign, embraced social media to promote their campaign. It also has its own website. ‘Marion Island was slow off the mark but it was really useful especially in the last few months – we had that world-renowned wildlife artist [Vincent Reid]. ‘He did a few drawings of fur seals…and it turned out very well. He donated 50% of his earnings to the project for research costs,’ explains Postma.

Using crowdsourcing platforms like GivenGain has become a popular source for people in need of philanthropic contributions. There are research projects that may resonate with humanity’s propensity for giving. Depending on how hard the cause plucks at the heart-strings, a research cause may or may not be a successful crowdsourcing venture, and it needs a level of creativity and determination. The great thing about a crowdsourcing campaign is that it can be a long-term endeavour, and the money is accessible at any time.


Nolwandle Zondi
13 August 2015

Article on the University of Pretoria signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with UNESCO to fund the activities of the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics on 29 July.

The University of Pretoria (UP) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO). This signing symbolises the continued partnership between UNESCO and the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE).

Since 2007, UNESCO, along with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE), has had a successful collaborative relationship with the African Network of Information Ethics (ANIE). The Network was established in response to the Africa’s under-representation in the global discourse on information ethics (IE). It endeavoured to increase African participation by furthering academic research and publishing, and educating key sectors of industry in IE. ANIE has entered into partnerships with the national Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), UNESCO and a number of local, regional and international universities. The DTPS signed a MoA with the University of Pretoria to establish the African Centre for Excellence in Information Ethics (ACEIE) through ANIE.

The ACEIE was formally established in 2012 under the University’s Department of Information Science and it is the first of its kind in Africa. UNESCO has funded the ACEIE on numerous occasions, including awareness-raising workshops across the African continent. ‘I dare say that the ACEIE, in my view, is the flagship of the [information ethics] sector,’ said Carlton Mokwevho, Secretary General of UNESCO’s South African National Commission. These workshops were aimed at cultivating a sense of ethicality in the government, education and media sectors. With this recent MoA, UNESCO is providing the ACEIE with R360 000 to host five projects in the East and South regions of Africa. ‘We will make sure that the projects are executed as agreed, and that we will be very happy to report on those in due time,’ said Coetzee Bester, Director of the Centre. The projects will be focussing on getting people to think more about their ‘digital wellness’ – how to use technology safety and appropriately.

The University, represented by the Dean of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT) Prof Sunil Maharaj said of the initiative: As we go in life we cannot stop change. Change is innovative but what we need to do is manage the change. I think a programme like this with UNESCO is a very great initiative because its managing processes that we need to engage with the society at large. ‘It’s putting a solid foundation on the table but we need to pick up tempo on this. And I’m hoping that through this partnership and with DTPS we can really pick up the tempo on this, and I’m glad DTPS is seeing the value proposition in this and supporting this.'

Back up top ^

Research Grants Management division: empowering researchers through administrative support

Nolwandle Zondi
06 August 2015

Podcasts on the services provided by the Research Grants Management division at the Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS).

The Research Grants Management division is housed in the Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS), and its role is to help researchers get external research grants. The division is manned by Ninette Mouton. ‘The purpose of this division,’ she explains ‘is to empower researchers with enough information and streamline the process so that they can submit quality applications as quickly as possible.’

In the podcasts below, Mouton delves deeper into the role of the division in the broader context of research administration and support. 

Follow the links below to access the services Mouton refers to.

When applying for research grants, what type of support does a researcher get?


Funding opportunities

Contributing to the Research Funding Bulletin

Do you help with the submission process in any way?


Do you provide any support after a researcher has received funding?


How does a researcher get nominated for an award?


Back up top ^

UP researchers win at the 17th NSTF Awards

Nolwandle Zondi

24 July 2015

Article on the 17th NSTF Awards which were held on 9 July 2015. The Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS) nominated researchers from the University, and three have won.

Science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) are the key to the development of new products, technologies and services. These new and innovative developments, in turn, are the key to creating wealth, jobs and ultimately the eradication of poverty.

To honour the excellent contributions in SETI by South African scientists, engineers and other professionals, the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) held its 17th NSTF Awards on 9 July 2015. Through these Awards, the NSTF is showcasing South Africa’s research and development capacity to the nation and the world.
Work in the following fields was celebrated:
• Scientific research
• Technological innovation
• Environmental sustainability
• Technology transfer, education and training
• Capacity building
• Management and
• Communication and outreach

The University of Pretoria (UP) is pleased to announce that three researchers from this institution won awards for their contributions in environmental sustainability and capacity building. Dr Thulani Makhalanyane, Prof Nigel Bennett and Prof Zander Myburg* put the University’s name on the winners roll.

Dr Thulani Makhalanyane was very surprised that he won the TW Kambule-NSTF Award in the category ‘to an emerging researcher (postdoctoral in a period of up to six years after the award of a PhD). ‘I did not expect to win,’ he says ‘because I was up against more senior people and some of them were professors so I didn’t expect that I would win the award.’ Dr Makhalanyane received his PhD in microbial ecology only two years ago. If he had not won he would have placated himself with the fact that he still has four more years in this category. 

The NSTF honoured Dr Makhalanyane’s contributions to the field because there is very little known about the microbial ecology of hot and cold deserts, and hypoliths, which are the photosynthetic microbial communities he is focussing on. ‘Because, when you imagine deserts, there’s usually nothing at all. But what we have are [soil] communities that are called hypoliths. So these are communities that are found below translucent rocks,’ he explains.

Dr Makhalanyane is trying to understand what the composition is like within hypoliths, which microorganisms make up a hypolith and what they actually do within the system. ‘For instance, in Antarctica, we’ve been able to measure a nitrogen fixation from these communities, and we have found that they are quite important in adding nitrogen to the soils because there’s absolutely nothing else that produces nitrogen in the ecosystem. So they’re very important to the ecology of those systems,’ he explains.
So what use is having nitrogen in the soil where nothing grows?

‘We are trying to be able to use the Antarctic system as a model to understand, for instance, the implications of climate change onto other systems,’ he elucidates. His research into hot deserts may provide insights into what happens to the soil in an ecosystem as it becomes less arable. ‘Understanding how hypoliths produce nitrogen and carbon within this system can allow us to better predict what will happen as areas become more and more arid.’

Prof Nigel Bennett had been a finalist for an NSTF Awards on two previous occasions. '[T]hen I went this time because my Head of Department said "you should attend, you never go to these awards." So I went there and I sat there and I was actually quite fascinated by it' says Prof Bennett. He knew that he had won the award for capacity building and research outputs before his name was announced the presenter said 'For his outstanding work in mammology' - 'I thought "there's hardly any person that work on mammals".'

The Professor studied Zoology at the University of Bristol after being advised by Sir David Attenborough that he would be better off becoming a zoologist instead of a game warden. While sitting in the library, Prof Bennett came across a paper on the naked mole rat. 'I found it really exciting because here was a mammal that had a queen and a lot of workers that help her, which is similar to the [social system] I had been looking at in the wood ants all those years ago [as a child],' explains Prof Bennett.
Studying the naked mole rat also provided him with the excuse to move to Africa. He joined the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University in 2001 and worked with [Prof Jenny Jarvis]. '[A]nd that's where the reproduction came in because that is an unusual reproductive strategy of one queen reproducing and suppressing all the non-reproductive animals,' explains Prof Bennett.

 Prof Bennett's efforts in developing the next generation of zoologists were also acknowledged and honoured at the gala dinner. Under his supervision, Prof Bennett has helped produce 12 PhD and 23 MSc degrees. 'So I have had a really nice bunch of students that I have trained. They've been great. I really enjoyed them.' He credits the fact that his students really enjoy what they do so it made it less challenging for him. 'In fact everyone I’ve supervised has published in really nice papers, 'he says. 

Winning an NSTF Award is a grand achievement for any SETI researcher and professional in South Africa. The Awards are the first and the largest in the country so it is testament to the excellence and hard work thee researchers are contributing not only to science but our nations society.

*Prof Zander Myburg won the TW Kambule-NSTF Award for research and its outputs over the last five-10 years by an individual. The Forum honoured his discovery of the genomic control of wood formation in fast-growing Eucalyptus trees. This finding is significant for the future of fuel production. Prof Myburg was not available for comment at the time of publishing.









University hosts Carnegie Diaspora fellows

Nolwandle Zondi

20 July 2015

Article on the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship programme (ADF) and the scholars visiting the University. The programme aims to reverse the brain-drain experienced on the African continent.

The University of Pretoria (UP) is hosting four Carnegie Diaspora fellows from the United States of America. The academics will be working on projects centred around education and student development.

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship programme (ADF) in a two year programme sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York, a philanthropic organisation that aims to use ‘private wealth for the public good’. It was founded by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant that became a self-made millionaire in America in the 19th century. Carnegie was a prolific philanthropist who, in the last 18 years of his life, gave almost 90% of his fortune to charities with an emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research.

Fellows participating in the ADF are academics from African currently living in the United States or Canada. This exchange of scholars aims to address the brain-drain of highly-skilled professionals in Africa, and resolve the shortage of capacity on the continent by training students. The Programme is running in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa, with over 100 scholars participating. 

The International Institute of Education (IIE), in collaboration with Quinnipiac University selected the collaborative projects between the scholars and the hosting institution based on the transformative needs of the host country. Scholars hosted by the University specialise in language, biology, political sciences and geographic science and technology. UP received scholars from the second and third rounds of the ADF.

Prof Brenda Louw, a scholar at the East Tennessee State University, is from the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Together with Prof Juan Bornman, they conducting collaborative research on the translation of communication assessment measures for children and youth by using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. 

Dr Anthony Cornel is from the University California Davis’s Department of Entomology and Nematology. He is doing collaborative research with Prof Lawrence Braack in Medical Entomology on mosquito-borne pathogens. Along with his research activities, Dr Cornel is also training and mentoring graduate students in Medical Entomology.

Prof Abdi Samatar, from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities’s Department of Geography and Society, is co-developing a curriculum for a postgraduate research methodology module in Political Sciences. He is also training and mentoring graduate students. Prof Maxi Schoeman from the Department of Political Sciences is hosting Prof Samatar.

Dr Paddington Hodza is from the University of Wyoming’s Geographic Information Science Centre. Dr Hodza, who is hosted by Prof Serena Coetzee, is doing a sustainable Geographic Information and Science and Technology cooperative relationship on curriculum development. He will also be involved in student mentoring and research between UP and his institution.

Their return to their homeland may be short-term but the lasting effects of the ADF on Africa will lie in the students they have mentored and trained. By participating in programme, hosting institutions are actively playing a role in allay the effects of the brain-drain experienced on the continent, and showcasing that African researchers can compete on a global level.


Revelations from the microcosm on small mammals

Nolwandle Zondi
10 July 2015

Interview with Dr Heike Luterman, a research associate at the Department of Zoology and Entomology. Dr Luterman, with the help of the Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS), managed to secure funding from the E Oppernheimer & Son Foundation. She will be continuing her research in in the trade-off between sociality and parasites in African mole-rats (Bathyergidae). ‘It’s a super fascinating model system which I enjoy playing with.’

There is a long-standing theory in the study of evolutionary sociality that explains why social groups in the animal kingdom are a rarity. This theory has, however, been as rarely tested as the occurrence itself. About less than three percent of vertebrates have a predilection for communal living and it has always been suggested that parasites have played a role in the evolution of this behavioural pattern. The reason why they evolved towards solitude is because the spread of parasites is exponential in large groups. A researcher at the Department of Zoology has observed that this theory may actually be untrue.

Dr Heike Luterman has been working in South Africa for the past 12 years in the field of behavioural ecology. ‘I, more or less by accident, stumbled over behavioural ecology that looks at essentially how the environment affects and changes an animal’s behaviour. [T]hat was a real eye-opener for me: it was like being a treasure hunter and finding an unexpected treasure because I was so intrigued by what’s going to happen,’ she says of her field. When she moved here Dr Luterman began working with Professor Nigel Bennett who was looking at the physiology of mole rats but not parasites. Dr Luterman brought to the Department an investigation into parasites as an agent of selection. She is working specifically on the Cryptomys damarensis (Damaraland mole rat).

For a researcher looking at social systems among small mammals, the African mole rats (Bathyergidae) are the perfect model system. The species has a wide range of socialities ranging from the solitary to the eusocial like ants and bees. Mole rats are also across Southern Africa in various habitats like desert (Kalahari), fynbos (Cape), highveld (Gauteng) and subtropical forests (Natal). Dr Luterman has noticed that the environment the mole rats are found in play a direct role on the sociality of the species: the drier the area, the larger the group. ‘This is because they live underneath the ground. So to move and find food they need to dig, and if you’ve ever tried to dig up your garden you know that it’s pretty exhausting. So there’s a hypothesis saying that these guys became social because then if there’re five animals going out looking for food, the chances of actually finding it are much better than just one animal,’ explains Dr Luterman. 

What Dr Luterman has observed among mole rats goes against the mainstream understanding of parasites and sociality. ‘[M]y findings always go against the grain [be]cause I don’t find support for this idea that: yes, we have a lot more members in the colony and when you get sick – you have the flu – and you hang out with your friends, they’ll catch it and it spreads around. But what I find in these animals is actually that it doesn’t share the same patterns so it’s not necessarily ‘with an increase in group size we have an increase in […] diseases’. What I’ve found, however, is there is actually in large groups less parasites.’ Dr Luterman divulges that she doesn’t yet know why or how this pattern occurs.

Dr Luterman is also looking at two other small mammals in her research: the Elephantulus myurus (eastern rock sengis, or elephant shrew) and the Micaelamys namaquensis (Namaqua rock mouse). It is believed that the Namaqua rock mouse is ‘supposedly’ social animal, but Dr Luterman’s findings are proving otherwise: ‘[A]s I said, there is very little biological information on these so we don’t know for certain but I have my doubts here from the data we’ve collected so far.’ This part of her research involves treating these rodents with Frontline to see what effects this has on the inhabiting ecto-parasites. ‘We already have some preliminary analysis where you can see when you remove one parasite group [...]. But what we see in the mice is then suddenly another parasite that wasn’t important comes up,’ she says. These findings have important implications for the livestock industry and its battle against ticks and fleas.

There are 70 species of ticks in South Africa and they pose a major problem to the livestock industry. The tick, she explains, inhabits different mammals at different stages of its life-cycle. When it’s at the larvae and nymph stages, ticks mainly infest small mammals, and at the adult stage they are found on livestock. ‘So the vets know very well what is happening with the adult ticks and how they transmit disease but they [ticks] usually acquire these disease from small mammals, which is another reason why I like to look at those and see what they have and what’s the dynamic of this,’ explains Dr Luterman. She sees her work progressing to the point where they will be able to advise farmers and vets on how to deal with these parasites. ‘Maybe when you should treat your and maybe you shouldn’t do it on the cattle, maybe you should treat somewhere else on the farm. But for this we’re trying to understand first what’s happening in the community of small mammals and then hopefully get some insight that way.’

Dr Luterman has received funding from E Oppernheimer & Son Foundation to continue building a database on small mammals and the ecto-parasites that inhabit them. ‘We’ve done three years, and now I’ve got another two years of funding from them,’ she says. The collection of species samples Dr Luterman has is quite extensive. In a year, she says, her students can easily find 100 000 parasites. ‘The sheer numbers are mind-boggling.’ Dr Luterman’s site is at the Ezemvelo Game Reserve where they find plenty of the species of small mammals she is working on.

Dr Luterman’s findings, especially on the opportunistic ecto-parasites, are novel the study. ‘I’m just really intrigued by this idea and it’s fairly novel in the field of parasite ecology – not just look at host-parasite and what’s happening between these two, but what’s happening between different groups of parasites. So essentially your host is like a little microcosm and there’s a lot going-on just on that microcosm. [W]e’re quite excited about that,’ she gleams with delight. ‘There is surprisingly little known about small mammals in this country […].And even for the scientists, when they are trying to do genetics and morphology to identify the species, there’s fairly little known about it. So there’s still a huge minefield that is open there to be explored. The biology of these animals is even less known,’ she says.

She admits that it’s frustrating at time because there’s very little background information she can use as reference but this just means that she is the pioneer of the study. ‘I can do anything here, which is good fun.’


Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) on funding technological development

Nolwandle Zondi
23 June 2015

Interview with Kefiloe Monageng, Fund Management System Head at the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), on funding technological development and what they look for in research projects. She also discusses Dr Nico De Bruyn's project on ‘How to weigh an elephant seal with one finger’ and why the Agency chose it.

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) is an entity of the national Department of Science and Technology. Its purpose is to ‘fund technologies, technologies that basically can address issues or challenges that are also shown [to be of] economic importance to the country and ultimately resulting in the improvement of the economy,’ explains Kefiloe Monageng, Fund Management System Head at the Agency. TIA follows technological developments, through the research projects it funds, right up to commercialisation.

Monageng’s role in TIA is to make sure that the Agency runs efficiently and effectively according to its mandate and objectives. This means selecting projects to fund that will result in apparent change in South African society, but also selecting technological projects that have the potential for commercialisation – ‘in that manner we are building or broadening the technology development space in South Africa,’ she says. 

The Agency is funding development of the multi-camera system being developed by Dr Nico de Bruyn from the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria. For his PhD, Dr de Bruyn was looking for alternative ways of weighing large terrestrial mammals. The current widely-used methods are labour and resource intensive, and anaesthesia is a stressful experience for the animal itself. Dr de Bruyn’s project showed ‘How to weigh an elephant seal with one finger’ by using 3D automated photogrammetric technology. 

Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. The science is used in topography, measurement and 3D modelling. In Dr de Bruyn’s application, it involves the ‘close-range’ type of photogrammetry where the subject (in Dr de Bruyn’s project, an elephant seal) is photographed in different dimensions using a multi-camera system. The photographs are then transmitted to computer where a software programme, using a predictive equation, calculates the weight of the subject.
TIA saw the potential for the use of this technology in another industry – the livestock industry. Having a measuring tool that enables you to weigh animals quickly and accurately, in both the wildlife and livestock industries, makes determining various factors like health and nutrition immediate. ‘When Nico’s project came it was mainly focussed on the wildlife because that’s where the data need is and, considering that South Africa or Africa as a whole has a bigger wildlife industry, so that component became a driver for [TIA] to [consider] the project.

‘So now then what transpired when we engaged with Nico was that the project will not only be of great benefit to the wildlife industry […] but it will be of great benefit if he also focussed in the livestock industry,’ explains Monageng.
The project was initiated in March 2015. The Agency has contributed R5.6 million to fund the entire life-cycle of the project. The money will be used to fund data set collection, the development of the software and the commercialisation of the technology. 

If the progress review reports that the project is delivering as originally set out and they are ready to take it to the commercialisation phase, TIA will select the third party company that will be involved in commercialisation of the development. Through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the technology will be developed and the Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP) will commercialise it. This model ensures that the project get done in a ‘linear sequential manner’ which, Monageng explains, enables them to get to the ‘end value’ of the project. This third phase of the project will still require the expertise of Dr de Bruyn and the software developer. The University is also involved since it is the holder of the intellectual property (IP): ‘It needs to be comfortable with the terms and conditions of the commercialisation,’ says Monageng.

‘What I can also say is that Nico’s project is one of those projects that, personally, I feel that it can contribute significantly to the country. And I also feel that it addresses a specific need and a specific market need to the country, which relates to an industry that’s not only big in South Africa, but is big to the continent as a whole,’ Monageng reveals. If this project gets off the ground and is successfully piloted in South Africa’s wildlife and livestock industry, it can be transported across the borders to other African countries, innovating the way animal health and nutrition is evaluated.


 Research support divisions are ‘able to understand all the issues that impact researchers’ – Funding Management System Head at TIA

Nolwandle Zondi
23 June 2015

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) tells us why they prefer to work with researchers through their institutions’ research support division.

Hi. I’m Nolwandle Zondi, science communicator at the Department of Research and Innovation Support. I spoke to Kefiloe Monageng, Funding Management System Head at the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), who explained to me why funding agency’s prefer to work with researchers through their institution’s research support division.

So I really actually find it much easier to work through your Research Support because you have multiple researchers at the University and you don’t want to deal with these multiple researchers. One of the examples in the Animal Health Technology and Innovation Programme, which funded about 13 projects at the University. So you can imagine if it’s handled by the Research Support Division, they’re able to understand all the issues that impacts all the researchers that are funded. They’re able to address all the issues at once. They’re able to have a meeting (this is internally at the University) to be able to address all the issues. When they meet with the funder, all the issues are addressed and we are talking with one person who has an understanding of all the issues that take place at the University. Unlike if you has to deal with issues of the people individually, and I think that if you deal with Research Support, what plays a significant role is that they get a better understanding, before you fund them, of what exactly you are looking for. So when they engage with all their researchers, they are able to give them a proper guidance of what you are looking for as a funder.

Selected links from podcast

Δ TIA's latest calls for proposals.

Δ Donate to Dr Nico de Bruyn's mammal research project on Givengain, Marine mammal research: Southern Ocean sentinels.

Δ Dr Nico de Bruyn's publications.

Δ Marion Island Marine Mammal Project website

Music by Bonobo.


Director of Wellcome Trust on the research and innovation ecosystem

Director of the Wellcome Trust, Professor Jeremy Farrar talks to DRIS about research and innovation models, and what makes it successful.


My name is Professor Jeremy Farrar, and I am the director of the Wellcome Trust.

I think there are all sorts of different models for how a research and innovation can thrive and what is true here in South Africa may be different to what’s in Kenya; may be different to what’s in the west coast of America. But I think the underpinning of it, the critical element in it, ultimately comes down to having really good people inspired by what they are doing, creative in the research they do, and a willingness to take their research and make it applicable to the societies they live in.
And often those are going to be local solutions rather than global solutions. We talk about globalisation a lot and it has huge positives but many of the solutions and many of the research has to be firmly based in local issues, local questions and addressed by people who understand those and who are based where the problems are their greatest.

Music by William French.


Consider taking a study sabbatical - Q&A with a PhD student and senior lecturer

Nolwandle Zondi
12 June 2015

Q&A with Dr Prashilla Soma, senior lecturer at the Department of Physiology, and now a full-time PhD student.

‘A major barrier to advancing research and postgraduate training at South African universities is the low proportion of academic staff with the appropriate qualifications to drive postgraduate research and to advance knowledge creation.’ This statement is made in the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Sabbatical Grants Framework. In 2009 only a third of full-time academic staff in science fields held doctoral degrees, which created a so-called burden of supervision. The framework measured the ratio students: supervisor. In 2005 it was 5,2:1 at master’s level and 2,2:1 at doctoral level.

To increase numbers, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the NRF established the Improving Academic Qualifications of Academic Staff and Researchers Grant, also known as the Sabbatical Grant. This sabbatical grant programme helps increase the number of academic staff with doctoral degrees as it affords lecturers time to pursue doctoral research.

A senior lecturer in the Department of Physiology, Dr Prashilla Soma, was awarded an NRF Sabbatical grant this year to pursue her doctoral research in the Ultrastructural findings of the coagulation profile in patients with diabetes. Her sabbatical will last for 12 months and began officially in March.

‘I’m a medical doctor. I started working at Steve Biko in 1997 and worked there until 2003, when a lecturing post became available in the Department of Physiology. At the time, the HOD of internal medicine was Professor Ker. He said: “You recently got married and you’ve just had a baby. Do you really want to do night calls and weekend ward rounds? Why don’t you think about a lecturing position?” It found it impossible to say no to my mentor and so I applied for the lecturing post without having any teaching experience apart from a bit of clinical teaching done during ward rounds which only involved 10, 12 students at a time. I had never stood in a lecture hall and taught 200 and 300 people at a time. I applied; I filled in the application form; I was short listed; I came for the interview; and here I am today. I started at the Department of Physiology on 1 April 2003 – just over 12 years ago – and I haven’t looked back. I’ve enjoyed every minute of teaching.’

How did you come to do your PhD?

‘Prof Resia Pretorius joined the Department in 2011, almost 10 years after I started. She said: “But you write so well; why have you not done a PhD?” I was unsuccessful in getting one of the professors to supervise me and besides, I enjoy teaching and I still do some clinical work. As a medical doctor I am allowed to do this: I have a six-hour post at Steve Biko where I teach medical students. So I have the best of both worlds, thus no need or urgency to commence a PhD.

‘I think if I did not have the opportunity to do clinical teaching in the hospital I would have missed it. On the other hand, I did not know that I would enjoy lecturing as much as I do and so, three years ago, I decided to register for a PhD with the support and motivation of an amazing supervisor, and here I am. Last year I applied for a 12-month NRF Sabbatical Grant. It was my second application and I was fortunate to succeed. My sabbatical officially started on 1 March this year.’

What made you step out of your comfort zone at the hospital?

‘Prof Ker, for sure. I’m telling you, I was so happy at Steve Biko, you would have needed a tractor to drag me out of there! I just couldn’t say no to Prof Ker – he is an inspirational person, genuine and sincere. If he recommends something; you know it’s for your own good. I reckoned if he thought I would not cope he would not have suggested it. Still, I was quite nervous at first when I realised I would have to stand in a lecture hall and address 200 students!’

How long did it take you to get used to lecturing?

‘Fortunately the lecture orientation induction programme I attended was really good. We were taught amazing skills and given amazing teaching tools. A video was made of me while teaching. When I looked at the video afterwards I was astounded at the mistakes I had made and I thought “The poor students I have been teaching these three months had to endure my pacing up and down, which is extremely irritating.” I also said yes, yes at the end of every sentence. I had no idea that I was doing it.

‘I’m not bragging, but I know I am a better lecturer now. Ten years down the line there are courses I’ve taught for the fourth or fifth time and I have really gained confidence. I think you also expect more from your students the longer you teach a certain topic and I’m not sure if that is always a good thing …’

What do you think your students like about you?

‘They are really fascinated with my clinical experience. For example, I would teach them about the neurophysiology of the brain. Then I could tell them, based on my medical background, how we do a lumber puncture to rule out meningitis. They did not have to know about lumbar punctures, but it made the lecture so much more interesting. I would lecture on reflexes using the knee reflex as an example. I would call a volunteer and elicit the knee reflex in class so that the students could see what it actually is. They loved my notes; they said they loved my enthusiasm; they loved my knowledge of the topic. I have been fortunate in that things do not always turn out so well when you start a new job. Now, if you were to tell me to go back and do calls, even though I thought that was what I meant to do in life, I don’t think I would be able to work in casualty for 24 hours.’

Why did you apply for the NRF sabbatical?

‘I am now a senior lecturer in this Department. The next level is associate professor. Without a PhD I will not be considered for a promotion, and I’ve been quite happy with that since I feel I’ve had the best of both worlds. But then I met such a keen supervisor who motivated me … I’ve done the lab work and data collection– it’s taken me three years – but now I have to write it all up.
‘Sometimes you have so much momentum you can write ten pages. Other days it’s like a drought season and you can’t think of a word to link the first paragraph with the second.

‘Even though I am great at speaking, I find writing to be very hard work. You need to sit down and concentrate. There must not be any interruptions, which is hard when you lecture because it’s not only the time it takes to give the lecture, you also have to prepare the next lecture, or submit test questions. Then there are departmental duties like journal club, committee work and meetings.

‘I just could not achieve the continuity needed to complete my PhD, which is why I applied for the Sabbatical Grant. I thought, “Let me see what will happen to me if I can get a whole 12 months” and I can already see the difference – continuity in my work. If I hadn’t been on sabbatical I don’t think I would have reached the review article stage with my thesis.

‘I undertook to complete my PhD by the end of the sabbatical, on 28 February 2016.’

You said you applied for the sabbatical twice. How did you feel when you did not get it the first time round?

‘I was devastated, but the critique I got made my second application much, much better. Sometimes one needs a little failure before to push that much harder for success. The NRF is giving us amazing opportunities and we should grab them with both hands.’

How far have you progressed with your PhD?

‘I have completed the literature review. My supervisor was quite pleased with the content. She’s recommended minor changes, but nothing huge. At present I am working on my review article. I’m quite happy with my progress to date and I’m 80% confident that I’ll have finished my degree by the end of November this year.’


Developing an ethical African information society through education

Nolwandle Zondi
12 June 2015

The African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE) has been awarded funding from UNESCO to raise awareness across the continent on information ethics.

Information communication technologies (ICTs) have become a fundamental element in the functioning of our post-modern society. With the advent of computers and the internet, information has evolved past the pages of books, and knowledge is no longer confined to the shelves of libraries. A wealth of information generally freely available in the palm of your hand at an instant.

The evolution of information has however brought along with it its own sets of challenges and ethical questions, questions about ownership, privacy, the ‘digital divide’ and e-waste. Academia’s response to these questions came from the field of information ethics, which started gaining traction in the 1990s. ‘Information ethics in the field of applied ethics where we look at the impact of information and communication technologies on our everyday interaction,’ elucidates Rachel Fischer, research officer at the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE). The field investigates what is called the ‘information lifecycle’. They don’t only focus on the use of ICTs but also on how research is done, how information is compiled and used, how it is distributed and how it is disposed of.

The development of African information and knowledge societies is an important mandate of many leaders in Africa, and the need for education on the dimensions of information is an ever present necessity. Information ethics in Africa is a field still in its infancy and not many people on the continent are aware of it. ‘We realised there’s a need for a hub in Africa because in 2002/2003, there was the international conference on information ethics. Of all the attendees, only two were from Africa and both were expats -they both resided in America. You know, it doesn’t make sense: how can you have an international conference, with international societies, and nobody is represented from Africa?’ asks Fischer.

In response to the lack of African representation in the global discourse on information ethics, the African Network of Information Ethics (ANIE) was established in 2007 by a group of academics from across the world. ANIE saw that the best way to tackle Africa’s under-representation would be to get African academics to begin researching, publishing and educating key sectors and industry on information ethics.

Since its inception, ANIE has entered into partnerships with the national Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), UNESCO and a number of local, regional and international universities. The DTPS entered a formal agreement with the University of Pretoria in 2012 to establish the African Centre for Excellence in Information Ethics (ACEIE). The Centre is the first of its kind in Africa.

The ACEIE aligned its objectives with those of UNESCO, Government and the University in order to simplify and combine their activities. The Centre’s main objectives are to act as a facilitator and conductor of research in information ethics locally and internationally, and to coordinate awareness and knowledge-enhancing activities locally and across continent. The Centre has created an information ethics curriculum for higher education institutions.

As part of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the University and the DTPS, the ACEIE developed an information ethics curriculum, which was supported by UNESCO. The curriculum was developed in response to the need for creating awareness amongst information communication technology (ICT) users in Africa on the risks and opportunities inherent in the use of ICT.

The ACEIE has published a curriculum framework instead of a traditional curriculum. ‘Unlike an actual curriculum, which tends to be prescriptive, curriculum frameworks are flexible, creating opportunities for the development of curriculum offerings particular and appropriate to different institutions,’ states the Curriculum to teach Information Ethics at universities in Africa. This book is the outcome of all the consultative conferences and workshops with various stakeholders. The fact that the ACEIE produced a framework shows their commitment to the various contexts information ethics applies to. The curriculum is licensed under a Creative Commons license and is freely available on the ANIE/ACEIE website.

In 2011, the ACEIE hosted an international workshop on the design of an information ethics curriculum which was co-funded by UNESCO. The event was attended by participants from Germany, America and a number of other African countries. The idea, explained Fischer, was to create a curriculum that is unique to Africa and South Africa in particular.

The Centre has trained government officials, held awareness-raising workshops in the country and across Southern Africa, and recently they have engaged with the media. ‘[W]e are interested in the media because suddenly now you have these citizen journalists. They contribute to your research done on world events or current local events but they don’t maybe adhere to a journalist’s code of ethics and so we start to work on those issues,’ said Fischer.

With the recent funding from UNESCO, the ACEIE hosted five awareness-raising workshops in the Southern Africa region. The workshops focussed on the information ethics curriculum, providing an in-depth analysis of it, and provided participants with a practical decision-making toolkit so that they are safer when online.

Information ethics has been well received across the UNESCO’s Southern and Eastern Africa regions. Since Coetzee Bester, director of the Centre, did a presentation on the relevance of information ethics in Africa, the activities of the ACEIE have spread to include more African countries. ‘And I think even, you know, then the numbers of course in attendance [at the workshops] are give or take but the outcome...is what is most valuable to the people. And you get the same stories across the board [that] say this field is so important,’ said Benson Lechaba, junior research officer at the ACEIE. The outcomes of their activities have been a pleasant surprise for them.

Some of the African countries they have visited are now also planning and hosting their own information ethics events. Fischer mentioned being invited to Uganda and Kenya. But funding is a major challenge since, when hosting a conference, one incurs a lot of expenses. ‘They have the people that are interested but they might not necessarily have funding for catering, for books or for flight tickets,’ explained Fischer. There may also be a quite a few people interested in attending an event but they may not be able to afford travelling to the hosting country. ‘People had to lessen the scope because the finances weren’t there to accommodate everybody,’ said Fischer.

Africa is a continent that is new to ICT and its ethical dimensions. In light of Africa’s goal moving towards a knowledge and information society that function well and can compete with the rest of the well-established information societies, the work being done by the Centre is laudable in that they are bringing Africa closer to the world’s debate on information and information ethics. ‘We view ourselves as a hub,’ says Fischer on the role of the ACEIE, ‘a point of connection between different role players and we wish to facilitate that hub to strengthen these participants.’


How to keep up-to-date with your research funding opportunities

Claiming Pivot profile Q&A.

To stay up-to-date with the research funding opportunities, researchers sign up with Pivot. To get the most out of your Pivot account, you need to claim your profile.

What is a Pivot profile?

It is a profile created and maintained by Pivot. It includes all your details such as name, surname, faculty and institutional affiliation. Your profile will then appear on your affiliation’s page, e.g. University of Pretoria, under the field of study/faculty you are in.

What does "claiming a profile" mean?

Claiming a profile means connecting it to your account. Doing this allows you to see the advisor and suggests options. It also enables you to update your profile.

How do you do this?

• Click on the right arrow on top of your page. If there is an option for claim profile that means your profile has not been claimed.
• Click ‘claim profile’ to begin the process.
• Pivot will search all profiles with you name. If you see your name, click on the box that says ‘this is me’. If you do not have a profile, click on ‘suggest scholar’ on the left hand side to create a new profile.
• Your identity will have to be verified via email.
• You will get a list in your emails. Click on the email you would like the verification to be sent. If you do not have access to any of the listed emails, click ‘I do not have access to any emails listed above’.
• Click ‘verify’ to continue.
• Your request will be sent to Pivot’s editorial team for approval. This will take one working day.

Why is it important for a user to claim their profile?

It is important because it allows Pivot to send funding opportunities according to your profile.


Open science to find effective solutions to global challenges

Nolwandle Zondi
29 May 2015

The need for a new way of thinking about science and research was the topic of this session at the ACU-SARIMA Conference.

The year 2015 is the year for global action, says the United Nations. The organisation will be adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September this year. The list has doubled in length going from eight MDGs to 17 SDGs. The goals are more oriented to sustainable development.

What these new development challenges need from leadership is a reconsideration of the way disciplines and sectors cooperate with each other. In research and innovation, for example, it has been standard practice to operate in silos of elitist institutions and organisations that see development as being driven by competition and the outputs as their closely guarded secrets.

‘We’ve got to a certain point where things are evolving at a micro-second,’ says Dr Anthon Botha, a self-dubbed futurist. In order for research and innovation to have an effective and impactful relationship with an evolving world, it needs to keep up with the evolution. Innovation, Dr Botha points out, is being delayed by out-dated financial systems and archaic international relations, both in politics and research institutes. A direct resultant of globalisation is the confluence of contexts: a problem in a developed country may be caused by political conflict in a developing country and vice versa. ‘We are approaching a moment in history where if we don’t learn how to work together our species won’t survive,’ states Prof Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor of Wits University.

The contemporary challenges facing the globe require a different way of thinking compared to the antiquated divisive ways of thinking about nations, education, industries and societies. ‘What we need is new thinking and open science is a new way of thinking,’ says Dr Botha. Open science is a movement towards encouraging a collaborative environment where anyone can partake in this game of pursuit. ‘At the heart of the concept is the idea that data methods and findings should be openly shared to encourage scientists and others to collaborate to solve scientific problems,’ says Naser Faruqui, Director of science and innovation at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The IDRC is among the first funding agencies to commit to creating and implementing an open science policy.

Academic scientists won’t be the only producers of knowledge. Faruqui retells us of the Foldit game where people were invited to unlock the way proteins develop in the HIV virus. A group of 14 year olds with a discerning eye for patterns solved, in 14 weeks, what scientists had been working on for 10 years. Expect to see the word ‘citizen-scientist’ showing up more often.

In order for open science to become a possible reality, there needs to be a complete paradigm shift across all levels. Institutions and heads-of-state will need to have earnest conversations with agendas that are equalitarian in nature, and business will need to revise their intellectual property policies. Creations of the mind, in open science, are nodes in a network. Dr Botha also adds a ‘citizen science’ curriculum to the list. Civil society needs to start focussing on creating a culture of volunteerism. Fortunately, Generation Yers (those born from the early 1980s up to early 2000s) have been found to be more community-minded than the previous generations.

But this movement towards a redefined relationship of collaboration is not only about being socially responsible human beings. ‘They won’t be developed unless they work in concert with the developing world,’ says Prof Habib of the elite-underclass dichotomy. ‘Don’t play games about internationalisation because frankly 70% of internationalisation is really not internationalisation. It’s transnational arrangements established by some institutions in the North.’

The national Department of Science and Technology (DST) is looking into research data infrastructure and how they can support the development of open science in this country. Professor Colin Wright, advisor to the DST’s National Integrated Cyber-Infrastructure System (NICIS) explains the focus is on developments in information technologies (IT) and how they can affect the practices of modern scientific research and the rollout of open science in South Africa. The DST’s mandate to invest more in IT to support the top-end of science resulted in the establishment of the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC).
In response to the emergence of big data projects, the most notable being the SKA project, the Department was ‘persuaded’ by NICIS to launch the Data Intensive Research Initiative for South Africa (DIRISA). Prof Wright describes it as being the ‘national framework and backbone upon which institutional and regional networks and establishments can rest.’ Through DIRISA, NICIS wants the entities to operate more synergistically.

Research organisations and heads-of-state will need to incorporate the CUDOS principles into their mission statements if they want to produce good scientific research that meaningfully contributes towards social development and change.

Communalism: equal access to scientific goods and a sense of common ownership to promote collective collaboration.

Universalism: contribute to science regardless of race, nationality, culture, or gender.

Disinterestedness: we need to act for benefit of common scientific enterprise, rather than personal gain.

Organized Scepticism: scientific claims exposed to critical scrutiny before being accepted.

‘Our vision,’ says Faruqui of the IDRC, ‘is to improve people’s lives and you can’t improve people’s lives if the knowledge we help support is not documented, shared and built on in a way that can actually improve people’s lives.’














University of Fort Hare community development research programme – its case and challenges.

Nolwandle Zondi
29 May 2015

At the ACU-SARIMA conference, Professor Gideon De Wet from the University of Fort Hare presented his experiences of running a community-oriented research programme. 

Research and innovation in society is the driver of change and development. If it is aligned to the environmental context it is conducted in, it drives that change in a more effective direction where research outputs can be measured in terms of real-world impact and not just as intangible data.

The University of Fort Hare (UFH) wants to transfer its research findings into the community in a direct way that will foster positive development in Alice, the town it is located in. The surrounding area, Nkonkobe Municipality, is an archetypical underdeveloped community in South Africa. The area is fraught with poverty that is hard to ignore: ‘[It is] sort of in your face every day,’ says Prof Gideon de Wet, Dean of Research at the University. Prof de Wet noticed the need for a ‘direct impact relationship’ with the community they do their research in. ‘Every year hundreds of these guys are being let loose into the community to do research towards Masters and PhDs,’ said Prof de Wet. Once researchers receive their degrees, they leave the community without having contributed to the development of that community. ‘Across the fence from the university’s ivory tower people are asking us: what have you done for us? And the difficulty is we simply don’t have the answers,’ admits Prof de Wet.

The University and Government are the highest employers and biggest contributors to the economic wealth here. These two sectors employ 44% of the active work force in the Municipal area. The rest of the active work force is employed in the agriculture industry and in private households. The agriculture sector in Nkonkobe is now in a state of dysfunction. Due to a lack of technical support, the fresh produce market has declined to a measly 30% operating capacity. Economic dependence is also fairly high: for every one person earning an income there are 10.5 who don’t (Alice Regeneration Programme: High Level Feasibility Assessment Report, 2010).

Herein shows the importance of the UFH to the community and the work Prof de Wet and the researchers are doing in agriculture. The University has repositioned itself as a research institution with a problem-solving ideal, and its objective is to direct research towards providing solutions to the community’s problems and challenges. ‘How do we establish a platform that can facilitate community development based on research findings?’ asks Prof de Wet.

The Professor admits that answering this is a lot harder when the people that are working on it are not developers themselves. Creating a positive relationship between the community and researchers is very important. Since the Tyume valley is a rural area, it is ruled by chieftains. The University had to ‘navigate’ this political environment, which comes with its own complexities that are very distinct from bureaucratic norms. Winning over the traditional leadership would ensure that the UFH would have access to other resources. Taking an inclusive approach towards their research projects in the community won over the 11 chiefs of the area: they were given the opportunity to buy-in and the UFH involved community members in the development think-tanks.

UFH embarked on multi-sectorial agriculture research project with a ‘direct impact’ approach. The project comprised of academic, business and community involvement. For the dairy project, the UFH provided land and research facilities, the community provided labour and business provided the market. The research outputs were focused on milk production and the labourers could take home some of the produce.

What has happened now though is that business is becoming too ambitious, edging out the community. ‘Business is selling in bulk to the big organisations in the country and the communities are missing out on that,’ explains the professor. 

The second agriculture research project, called the AgriPark development project, wants to capture economic activity is fresh produce and provide a solution to hunger. The University approached the subsistence farmer community and asked them do donate fresh produce. The University, through its food processing plant, dries the vegetables and distributes them, as 300 gram lunchboxes, throughout the community as a part of the school feeding scheme. ‘But we’ve got a problem. It’s failing. Why? Because people don’t like the packaging. It compares not favourably with what you can buy at Pick n’ Pay,’ says Prof de Wet.

The University and its community development projects in agriculture are crucial in the maintenance of the sector and keeping it nationally competitive. But Fort Hare is facing some challenges.

The University is using its funding from the Ford Foundation to establish a database that will be indispensable to the University. ‘We can’t rely on StatsSA for some of these things because the intricacies of these communities is sometimes of such a major [sic] that you can’t actually work with some stats that you would be dealing with.’

Alice is being run by a defective municipality. ‘As a town it doesn’t exist in terms of basic support services anymore,’ explains Prof de Wet. If Alice fails as a town so does Fort Hare.

The local government has walked away from the AgriPark development project because there are too many risks involved with supporting the project. They have walked away from it to save their reputation ‘because they need the vote’. Support from the community is weak. ‘We are losing the support of the community because they don’t see the benefits coming through the AgriPark development project,’ concedes the professor.

‘We have reached the stage in our academic and research life at the university where we simply can’t ignore the needs and the challenges that we have to face coming from the local communities across the fence.’

Such complex and far-reaching challenges require a transdisciplinary approach and a collaborative environment. The local government could draft development policy that is informed by the community-centric research from Fort Hare. Community and business will have to voluntarily participate in the project in order to see if it is viable or not. The real benefits often take time to appear. Fortunately he University will not be closing these programmes, but the rest of those at the table need to be persuaded.


Funding alerts - a hassle-free way to find research funds

Q&A on funding alerts

The Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS) has compiled a funding alert request form that you can complete if you want us to consolidate your searches for funding on one easy-to-use platform and send you regular updates of funding opportunities specifically related to your research.

What is a funding alert form, and how does it work?

The funding alert form captures details about a researcher and his or her research. The researcher should take care when completing this form as the information will be used to identify funding opportunities. The keywords provided are particularly important as the quality of the keywords will ultimately determine the quality of funding results.
Is the form connected to all the databases that post funding opportunities?

By completing this alert form, researchers will receive funding alerts from subscribed funding databases, namely Research Africa and Pivot. In addition, DRIS will pass on information about funding opportunities received directly from funding agencies, UP faculties or UP Management.

Do I have to have a user account on any databases or on the DRIS website to use the alert form?

You do not have to register on any website to be able to use the alert form. However, you must have a UP email address because the form caters only for researchers at UP.
Will I receive alerts about both external and internal funding?

All funding opportunities that match your keywords, be they internal or external, will be passed on to you.

How many alert forms can I submit?

You can submit multiple forms on condition that each concerns a different research discipline.

What do I need to have at hand when filling in the form?

All you need is a UP email address, your research keywords and a clear idea of the type of funding you require.

Do I have to upload any documents?

You do not have to upload any documents.

What happens to the alerts when I have secured the funding that I need?

Researchers can opt out of receiving these alerts at any time by sending an email to researchfunding@up.ac.za.

Where can I access this form? 

The funding alert form is available at www.upresearch.co.za.
Alternatively click here.

If I register today, when can I expect to receive my first alerts? 

Funding alerts are dealt with every Tuesday. If there are any open calls for funding you can expect to receive alerts as soon as the request is processed. However, if there are no open calls you will receive alerts as calls become available.
As soon as your alerts are created, DRIS will send you a confirmation email.

If I have any other questions, is there anyone at DRIS I can contact?

You can contact Vuyi Mvundla at 012 420 5847 or researchfunding@up.ac.za.


Top 13 resources to easily secure research funds

List of available resources.

Embarking on research is exciting for most researchers. It presents the opportunity to pursue and investigate innovative ideas that you are passionate about, and that may provide solutions to the challenges and problems facing the 21st century.

But before you can embark on your research you will need money. Identifying and securing research funds can be time-consuming, laborious and at times a little complicated, but finding funding and the right organisation to support your research is the only way to get started.

There are various funding opportunities available to you. It is just about finding it and adequately following the procedure. The Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS) has a number of resources on www.upresearch.co.za that ease the laborious processes. These resources will assist you throughout the process from the initial step of sourcing funding to the end where you sign the grant agreement.

Here is a list of the top resources available to UP researchers:

Resources for searching

1. Research Africa funding database

Research Africa posts funding opportunities from sponsors that are focused on African science and development. Research Africa is a popular source for UP researchers with 1 773 registered users.

2. Pivot funding database

Pivot has 1 231 registered UP users and offers opportunities that total an estimated US$33 billion. This database takes the hassle out of finding suitable funding opportunities by suggesting funding opportunities via email alerts straight to your inbox.

3. InfoED SPIN funding database

According to the InfoED website, SPIN Global Suite is the world’s largest database of funding opportunities. There are over 40 000 opportunities from more than 10 000 global sponsors.

4. National Research Foundation (NRF)

The NRF is a South African government entity that promotes and supports research funding in South Africa. The Foundation provides funding opportunities to higher education institutions in all fields of natural and social sciences, humanities and technology. Researchers can consult the NRF website at www.nrf.ac.za for the latest funding opportunities. Designated Authories at DRIS can assist researchers with the online application process and institutional approval.

5. Grants.gov

This is the most definitive source for United States Federal funding opportunities. Researchers can apply directly via the website to calls for applications but must register individually as a user before starting with an application. It is also imperative that DRIS is informed of the application because it has to be approved by the Department before Grants.gov can accept the submission. Researchers can consult the Grants.gov website at www.grants.gov for the latest available funding opportunities. The Research Grants Management Division within DRIS can assist researchers with the online application process and institutional approval.

6. Research Funding Bulletin

This bi-weekly Bulletin contains funding opportunities, notices on conferences, training and other events, calls for research papers and other research-related news at UP. The Bulletin is compiled and distributed by DRIS and is circulated internally to staff, students and researchers that have signed up on the DRIS mailing list with their UP mailing account. Know of a funding opportunity that you would like to share with other researchers within your faculty? You can add funding opportunities to the Bulletin which will be uploaded and circulated among other researchers at UP.

7. Funding Alerts

Tired of trolling the funding databases for the right call? DRIS can assist by setting up funding alerts that will deliver only funding opportunities that will suit your needs straight to your inbox. Tell DRIS about your researcher and the type funding you seek by completing this online funding alert form.

8. Call Schedules

On the DRIS website, you can access the Call Schedule, which is an inclusive list of all the anticipated funding opportunities, with deadlines, in a given year. This resource gives you the ability to plan and prepare ahead of time. The organisations in the Schedule include the MRC, NRF, Newton Fund and UP.

Resources for submitting

As soon as you have identified the right funding opportunity for your research, you can consult the DRIS website for resources that will help you with the application.

9. Institutional information

Most application forms require some information regarding the institution such as institutional numbers, names of the executive members, etc. On www.up.ac.za you can access the institutional information most often required by funders.

10. Application appendices

Some funders may require additional documents as appendices such as financial statements, confirmed bank details on a letter head and stamped by the bank, tax clearance certificates and policies. You can access the most often requested appendices on www.up.ac.za.

11. Budgets

All funding applications contains a budget — a breakdown of how the researcher will spend the funds. On www.upresearch.co.za you can find resources to easily compile a budget. The website also provides additional information such as the 10% institutional costs and clarification on subvention levies.

Resources for tracking

12. Check my application status

Once you have submitted your application to a funding agency, you can inform DRIS that you have submitted your application directly to the funding agency and request DRIS to regularly follow up on the status of your application. By doing so, DRIS can attend to minor queries that may arise from the funding agencies. If your application is unsuccessful, DRISt can request meaningful feedback which can be incorporated in future applications.

Resources for signing

13. Report Reminder Form

If your application is successful, you will receive an agreement which will stipulate reporting requirements. Submitting your report on time and in the correct format is an important aspect in maintaining a good rapport between you and your funder. It gives them, and you, a tangible view on your progression and improves your chances of renewed funding.

By completing the Remind Me of Reports & Invoices form, DRIS will notify you in advance when reports and invoices are due.

Using this list, finding and securing funding becomes an achievable pursuit. There is a solution to the task of registering yourself on to many databases. Register with DRIS using the Check My Application Status form. This will save you time and ensure that your application is not rejected because of a missing document. The task is simplified, the procedure is readily available, and efficiently organised.




  •  An A-agreement is the type of account that is opened for funding that comes with contractual stipulations, or sponsorships and donations. In this case according to SARS, the applicant may have to provide a Section 18(A) certificate.

  • An A-development cost centre is reserved for:
    - financing additional posts
    - attendance of congresses, symposia, and speciality lectures
    - official visits to local and foreign universities and professional bodies
    - registration with professional bodies, vocational council etc.
    - prizes and bursaries for students
    - purchasing books
    - entertaining guests and visitors to the departments
    - audio-visual equipment and computers, and furniture
    - financing gifts to donors, visitors, and guest lecturers
  • An A-publication cost centre is opened for the money researchers are awarded for published articles in journals. This account must be used for financing publication and research. ‘You may not abuse the funds for personal use,’ Pillay interjected.
  • This cost centre is a once-off long-term account used for capital equipment like computers.

  • Each faculty and department has its own K-cost centre.

  • K-cost centres are only opened when a new department is established.
  • This cost centre is for funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF).

  • Funding from the NRF comes with a few stipulations, and therefore the account is restricted.

  • The money must be used in the same year in which it is deposited.

  • Depending on the length of the project – if it runs for two years or more – the funds can be carried over to the following year.
  • the exchanges between institutions in the network have contributed to improving the quality of postgraduate education;
  • collaborative efforts have resulted in co-published articles in high impact journals;
  • stakeholders have been able to access expertise in policy-making;
  • there have been opportunities to share best practices in policy and professional development; and
  • the network is financially stable and self-sustaining.
  • UP Research website
  • Register for Research Africa, Pivot and InfoEd Spin databases
  • Research funding
  • Travel expenses
  • Conference expenses
  • Scholarships
  • Fellowships
  • Submit a funding opportunity
  • Submit a conference
  • Submit a call for papers
  • Submit news & notices
  • Funding alerts form
  • Institutional information for applications
  • Check my application status
  • Remind me of reports and invoices
  • Prizes and awards