Utilisation of research in South Africa's research institutes

Bowers, Leisl Joanne (2004-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2004

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The overarching aim of this study is to analyse what researchers in South African higher education institutes and science councils mean by the term 'utilisation'. In specific terms, this aim is interpreted as determining what researchers mean when they indicate that their research findings are being utilised. The data used to conduct this analysis is taken from a national survey conducted to establish the extent to which research findings in South Africa are utilised. The Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies - now called the Centre for Research on Science and Technology - conducted the survey for the National Advisory Committee on Innovation (NACI). This study for NACI involved a questionnaire survey of research being conducted with universities, technikons and science councils, and a telephone survey of a sample of research and development managers in 116 companies. As a researcher in the Centre, I played an active role in this two-fold survey component of the research process. Besides coding the questionnaire for the NACI survey, for the purposes of my study I did additional coding of the questionnaire data. This involved coding 1052 responses to an openended question using a software package. After exporting this data to Microsoft Excel, I further coded the data into one of three categories: Mode 1, Mode 2 and a combination of Mode 1 and Mode 2. This 'new variable' created, formed part of the quantitative analysis since it was correlated with the following variables: the 'trigger' or 'driver' behind the research; the expected outcome of the project or study; the scientific field of the project; the project's or the study's science culture; the source of funding of the study, the modes of dissemination of the results and the intended beneficiary(ies) of the research. Results of the qualitative analyses reveal a profile for projects exhibiting features of Mode 1, Mode 2 or a combination of Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge utilisation. With Mode 1 we see that research was likely to be utilised within the discipline, was conducted for the benefit of the researcher's peers and it expanded on existing knowledge - all indicating that Mode 1 knowledge utilisation is predominantly associated with fundamental research. With Mode 2 we see that research was produced primarily for its use value and included the user's interests - indicating that Mode 2 knowledge utilisation is predominantly applied, commissioned and/or strategic. Projects that exhibited both features of Mode 1 and Mode 2 were both indicative of fundamental and applied research. Besides the quantitative analyses also showing the same result mentioned above, it was also discovered that the majority of the projects exhibited features of Mode 2, with one third of the projects exhibiting features of Mode 1 and a small proportion of projects as comprising both modes of utilisation. This was a very interesting finding because it is no longer just speculation that a shift is occurring to more applied, strategic research. The analysis revealed that this shift is a reality. The correlations of mode of utility with the seven other variables produced a range of results that expanded on the features of Mode 1 and Mode 2 type of knowledge production and verified that each mode had qualities unique to itself. My recommendations to researchers in South African research institutes concerns conducting the type of research which will be more relevant to the needs of South African society at large. To funding bodies and programmes of South Africa, the suggestion is to become more informed about the dissemination and intended utilisation strategies that they fund.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie studie is om 'n analise te doen van die begrip "navorsingsbenutting", soos verstaan deur navorsers binne die publieke Suid Afrikaanse navorsing- en ontwikkelingsektor. Data wat verkry is van 'n landswye ondersoek na die aanwending van navorsingsuitsette binne die publieke sektor, soos onderneem deur die Sentrum vir Interdissiplinêre Studies, is geanaliseer. As 'n lid van die navorsingspan wat die studie onderneem het, was ek aktief betrokke by die proses wat onder meer 'n vraelys-ondersoek ingesluit het na navorsingsprojekte wat in swang is aan SA universiteite, tegnikons en wetenskapsrade. Vir die doel van die studie het ek 1052 response wat die resultaat was van 'n oop vraag in die vraelys in drie kategorieë gekodeer naamlik Modus 1, Modus 2 asook Modus 3, 'n kombinasiekategorie met die benaming "modus van aanwending". Die kwalitatiewe analise het getoon dat in die geval van modus 1, die navorsing mees waarskynlik binne die dissipline en tot die voordeel van die navorser se eweknieë aangewend sal word en dat dit in die meeste gevalle 'n uitbreiding van bestaande kennis behels - 'n aanduiding dat modus 1 navorsing hoofsaakilk verbind kan word met fundamentele navorsing. In die geval van modus 2 blyk dit dat navorsing primêr berus op die utiliteit- of aanwendingswaarde daarvan. Dit vertoon 'n noue verband met die gebruiker se behoefte of belangstelling en is hoofsaaklik toegepaste, kontrak of strategiese navorsing. Projekte wat aspekte van beide modi 1 en 2 vertoon, het tegelykertyd gedui op fundamentele en toegepaste navorsing. Die kwantitatiewe analise het aangedui dat die meerderheid projekte eienskappe van modus 2 vertoon het, met 'n derde van die projekte wat eienskappe van modus 1 vertoon het. 'n Klein hoeveelheid projekte het aspekte van beide modi 1 en 2 vertoon. Hierdie analise het aangetoon dat 'n verkuiwing inderdaad plaasgevind het vanaf fundamentele na meer toegepaste en strategiese navorsing. Die korrelasie van die modus van aanwending met sewe ander veranderlikes, het 'n reeks resultate tot gevolg gehad wat die eienskappe van modi 1 en 2 verder uitgebrei het. Dit het ook bygedra tot die bevestiging van die spesifieke eienskap van elke modus en unieke aspekte van elke modus aangetoon. Aanbevelings word ten slotte gedoen met die oog op 'n keuse vir meer relevante navorsing binne die publieke sektor gemeet aan die kriteria van die navorsingsbehoeftes van die breër Suid Afrikaanse gemeenskap. Aanbevelings m.b.t. disseminasie en navorsingsaanwendingstrategieë van navorsing wat deur befondsingsliggame befonds word, word ook gemaak.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50216
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