Prof Malatu Zerihun.
Prof Malatu Zerihun, Associate Prof and HoD of Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Finance, promptly raised his hand in accepting the challenge. Prof Zerihun who is currently a C2-rated researcher, said he was excited about the opportunity and ready to burn the midnight oil to achieve success.
“As we strive to grow our own timber as well as women in research and innovation, we are confident that an increase in the number of Rated Researchers will continue to enrich the university’s research output. We currently have 54 rated researchers, 22.2% of whom are female rated researchers,” Dr Papu-Zamxaka said.
She added that year to date, rated researchers have published about 58 journal articles, which amounts to R7 421 822,68 in subsidy generated from DHET “This is commendable as the ratio is a slightly higher than 1:1, moreover this figure does not include other research outputs, such as Conference Proceedings, Book Chapters, Books and Creative Output.”
She also highlighted that the African continent comprises 15% of the world’s population but only produces 2% of the world’s research output. “Celebrating our rated researchers today, showcases TUT’s research capabilities and enhances its image in the global higher educational arena as well as contributing to our efforts for institutional reputation building.”
In congratulating the leading group of researchers, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, shared his need to have a brief and frank conversation about research matters. “I feel it is safe to talk about these things with you, because you and I are mad about research and innovation, you embody the TUT vision to produce knowledge that work, the ambition to produce students who work and who are capable of inventing work.”
He added that research requires dedication, hard and consistent work and that there are no overnight success stories in academia. “Together, we share the TUT determination to bend the future in the direction of innovation and to respond to the problems of country in continent in the mode of research that matters. We are those researchers who stand ready to deploy research tools and findings to solve the most intractable problems our country and our world face today – climate change, load shedding, infrastructure decay, low skills-base, unemployment, you name it.”
Raising his concerns about colleagues who constantly shy away from research, Prof Maluleke said: “It is unfortunate that while you constitute what WEB Dubois called, “the talented tenth”, there are many colleagues out there who specialise in not producing research outputs, they specialise in not producing problem-solving innovations and they specialise in not producing masters and doctoral graduates, no; the colleagues of whom I speak, specialise in producing research excuses. Together we must mentor them and change their mindset. Each one of you is part of the TUT army that will move the TUT culture from that of research excuses to that of research greatness. Above all, I want you to aim higher and higher for your own researcher selves.”
Prof Maluleke emphasised that excuses for not doing research are plenty, adding: “The time has come for us to move from research excuses to research greatness, and you give me hope. You see, in academia and the world of research, greatness comes by way of peer review – no less and no more. In the academic world, peer review is the golden standard. What counts is what your peers – the people with the expert and intimate knowledge of your field – say about your work. Unlike in other professions, what matters in academia is what your critics say and not what your worshippers say. The NRF Rating system is one of the best individual academic peer review systems on the continent and in the world. It is most reliable and generally accurate – depending as it does on the views, not of panels or boards, but the views of peers.”
The VC concluded his talk by linking research to a song by Mark Sanders and Tia about dancing, titled ‘I hope you dance’. It includes the following lines:
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder …
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance.
“Academic leaders should dance the dance of research, the dance of scholarship, the dance of discovery, persuasion and transformation. We are not here to play; we are here to dance. And while we are at it, let us have some fun.”