ISBN 9781928502067
Pages 296
Dimensions 234 x 156 mm
Illustrations B/W Illustrations
Published 2020
Publisher African Minds Publishers, South Africa
Format Paperback

Transforming Research Excellence

New Ideas from the Global South

edited by Robert McLean, Robert Tijssen, Matthew L. Wallace, Erika Kraemer-Mbula

Modern-day science is under great pressure. A potent mix of increasing expectations, limited resources, tensions between competition and cooperation, and the need for evidence-based funding is creating major change in how science is conducted and perceived. Amidst this ‘perfect storm’ is the allure of ‘research excellence’, a concept that drives decisions made by universities and funders, and defines scientists’ research strategies and career trajectories.

But what is ‘excellent’ science? And how to recognise it? After decades of inquiry and debate there is still no satisfactory answer. Are we asking the wrong question? Is reality more complex, and ‘excellence in science’ more elusive, than many are willing to admit? And how should excellence be defined in different parts of the world, particularly in lower-income countries of the ‘Global South’ where science is expected to contribute to pressing development issues, despite often scarce resources? Many wonder whether the Global South is importing, with or without consenting, the flawed tools for research evaluation from North America and Europe that are not fit for purpose.
This book takes a critical view of these issues, touching on conceptual issues and practical problems that inevitably emerge when ‘excellence’ is at the center of science systems. Emerging from the capacity-building work of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa, it speaks to scholars, as well as to managers and funders of research around the world. Confronting sticky problems and uncomfortable truths, the chapters contain insights and recommendations that point towards new solutions – both for the Global South and the Global North.

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About the Editors

Robert McLean

Robert McLean is senior programme specialist in policy and evaluation at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). He is concurrently a research fellow in the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network (IKTRN) based at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute/University of Ottawa, where he leads research looking at the role funders/donors play in turning innovation into action.

Robert Tijssen

Robert Tijssen straddles the Global South and Global North. He holds the Chair of Science and Innovation Studies at Leiden University (Netherlands), but is also part-time full professor - since 2015 - at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) and affiliated to South Africa's DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

Matthew L. Wallace

Matthew L. Wallace has been working in the science policy field for over a decade. Currently, as a senior programme specialist at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada, his focus is on issues broadly related to science systems, including engineering education, science advice to governments, granting agencies, industrial research collaboration and careers of scientists.

Erika Kraemer-Mbula

Erika Kraemer-Mbula holds the DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development. She is currently a research associate at the Centre for Law, Technology and Society, University of Ottawa (Canada), the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI) at Tshwane University of Technology (South Africa) and a researcher at the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (SciSTIP) (South Africa).