It is important to
note that placement in the categories P, or Y can occur once
only. As a result, the timing of submission of documents for
evaluation can be very important (especially in the case of
the P category). Bearing in mind the definition of the P
category, it is imperative that the published research outputs
of the doctoral and/or postdoctoral period have been subjected
to international peer scrutiny before submitting documents to
the NRF for evaluation. In the ideal scenario, outputs from
both the doctoral and postdoctoral periods should be available
for peer scrutiny.
Note: It is not necessary for an applicant to have a doctoral degree when applying for an A, B
or C rating. However, an applicant applying for a Y or P rating must have a doctoral degree or equivalent. Applicants who are under 35 years of age and already established can also qualify for an A, B, or C rating.
Expanded Thuthuka Rating Track
University academic staff that can demonstrate that they were
unable to establish themselves as researchers due to limited
research opportunities e.g. working in a former historically
disadvantaged institution, moving to and from industry or due to
family responsibilities, may apply for research support in the
Rating Track of the expanded Thuthuka Framework. The intended
purpose of the Thuthuka Rating Track is to support researchers
to become established in their chosen research field.
The Call for submissions of
research proposals for funding will open in early 2010
(for funding from 2011 onwards). The Thuthuka Rating Track
support will be offered, on a competitive basis, for a
predetermined period only. Applicants must present a plan
that will lead them to apply for NRF rating at the end of
the funding period.
Further information and details
regarding the Rating Track in the expanded Thuthuka Framework
will be released in 2010.
definition of research
For purposes of the NRF, research is original investigation
undertaken to gain knowledge and/or enhance understanding.
creation and development of the intellectual infrastructure of
subjects and disciplines
(e.g. through dictionaries, scholarly editions, catalogues and
contributions to major research databases);
invention or generation of ideas, images, performances and
artefacts where these manifestly embody new or substantially
on existing knowledge to produce new or substantially improved
materials, devices, products, policies or processes.
testing and analysis of materials, components, instruments and
processes, as distinct from the development of new analytical
development of teaching materials and teaching practices that
do not embody substantial original enquiry.
the NRF definition of research in
takes place at regular intervals either at the
initiative of the NRF (for categories
A, B, C, P or Y
or at the initiative of the applicant whose evaluation has
lapsed or did not fall into one of the above categories at the
previous assessment. It can also take place
at the request of organisations requiring a special re-evaluation of specific applicants.
Re-evaluation by invitation of the NRF
Applicants with a valid rating will be invited by the NRF to submit documents for re-evaluation approximately five years after the previous evaluation. Details about the documents to be submitted for re-evaluation are issued together with the invitation for re-evaluation. If an individual elects not to
respond to the invitation for re-evaluation, his/her rating will lapse.
Researchers who allow their ratings to lapse must note the this
will result in the end of access to NRF funding for research.
Re-evaluation at the initiative of the applicant
Applicants who have not been rated in one of the defined categories may apply for re-evaluation through the
relevant authority three years after their previous submission. In these cases, the onus to apply for re-evaluation rests with the applicant.
If, since a previous evaluation, an applicant has shown such progress that according to the relevant authority the outcome of the previous evaluation is inconsistent with the applicant's present standing, a special re-evaluation may be requested, i.e. even before three years have elapsed in the case of applicants where no rating was assigned, or before the NRF has extended an invitation for re-evaluation in the case of applicants with a valid rating.
In the case of a special re-evaluation, a newly completed application for evaluation and rating must be submitted to the NRF together with a motivation from the appropriate authority justifying why a special re-evaluation is requested. In this case, the whole process is repeated, new reviewers approached and a complete re-evaluation is undertaken.
Outcome of the evaluation and communication of result
The outcome of the evaluation will be conveyed as soon as the
rating has been finalised. Some evaluations will take longer
than others depending on whether they have to be referred to the
EEC or whether more reports by peers have to
Assessment Panels meet during
September to November
of a particular year to assess applications. Results will normally be communicated to the applicant, together with feedback identified by the
Specialist Committee, via the appropriate authority at the employing institution by the end of
the same year. However, there may be cases that can only be finalised later (e.g. those cases where more reports by reviewers have to be solicited, or which have to be referred to the Executive Evaluation Committee (EEC), etc.) In these cases the applicants will be informed that there will be a delay and that the results will be made available immediately after
the finalisation of the rating.
to researchers from reports by reviewers
Realising that feedback from the evaluation and rating process
may be of great value to researchers, the NRF has the following
policy in this regard:
Feedback from the process
and recommendations from the reports of reviewers
will remain anonymous.
The Monitoring and Evaluation unit will provide the above
feedback as an attachment to the outcome letter if the
applicant requested feedback in his application.
It is important to keep the following in mind:
The most important feedback from the evaluation process
is the rating itself. It represents the overall opinion
of reviewers regarding the standing of the applicant as a
researcher, based on the research outputs over the last eight
Commendations and recommendations are selected because of its
potential value to researchers in their future work, but the
comments provided might be something applicants wish to
Feedback cannot be a basis for an appeal against the
outcome of an evaluation.
While the NRF will engage in discussion about all aspects of
the evaluation and rating process it cannot enter into any
discussion on the contents of feedback supplied.
The relevant authority at an institution can lodge a written
appeal if it considers the result of a particular evaluation
outcome to be seriously out of line with the institution’s own
assessment of the applicant. Only those documents on which the
original decision was based will be considered by the Executive
Evaluation Committee (EEC) or the Appeals Committee. No new
documentation on research outputs achieved subsequent to the
submission of the application for evaluation and rating may be
submitted. Any scholarly achievements of the applicant
postdating the submission will not be taken into account in an
Appeals must be lodged within three months of the date of the
NRF’s letter informing the relevant authority and applicant of
the outcome of evaluation and rating. Letters of appeal should
not exceed two pages.
The following guidelines will assist employing institutions and
applicants when they consider lodging an appeal.
the result of the evaluation seriously out of line with the
applicant’s or institution’s assessment?
By serious is meant that the rating which was awarded differed
by one rating category from that suggested by the institution. A
case could possibly be made if the applicant’s institution had
suggested a C1 rating and the outcome was a C3 rating. Appeals
should generally not be lodged if an applicant received a C3
rating and it is felt he/she should have been placed one
sub-category higher at C2.
are the main reasons for the appeal?
Institutions should carefully consider this question. An appeal
is best aborted if it is, for example, based on any new research
outputs, or a change of status of research outputs e.g. a paper
in preparation at the time of submission has in the meantime
been accepted for publication, or on the feedback which has been
Feedback from reviewers’ reports constitutes selected extracts.
The supplied feedback is not the overriding determinant in the
rating decision; it simply reflects the comments identified by
the relevant Specialist Committee that could possibly be useful
to the applicant. If the applicant or institution dislikes the
feedback or disagrees with it, they may ignore it.
the NRF rating categories well understood?
Institutional authorities and applicants should make quite sure
that they understand the rating categories thoroughly before
lodging an appeal.
not submit other reports received from reviewers, e.g. those
solicited by the employing institution for promotion purposes,
should not be included with the appeal.
Researchers who are rated by the NRF may apply for incentive
funding which is available for the duration of the rating. The
funding is not project-related and may be used for any
research-related costs. The only 'string' attached to this
funding is the submission of an Annual Progress Report at the
end of the year to indicate how the funds were spent.