2024 NRF Rating Briefing Session

Posted on November 21, 2023

The Department of Research and Innovation in partnership with the Department of Library Services hosted a hybrid NRF Rating Briefing Session for 2024. The event was hosted on 11 October 2023 and 18 October 2023 at the Health Science and Hatfield campuses. The online attendees were accommodated on Blackboard Collaborate. The workshop aimed to provide strategic advice about how researchers can maximise their chances of getting an NRF rating and perhaps obtaining a higher rating from the NRF. Several researchers attended the briefing sessions, raised some interesting questions and highlighted some challenges for the various presenters.

The first part of the session was facilitated by Professor Thaddeus Metz, an NRF A-rated researcher from the Faculty of Humanities, who presented on the NRF application process and how to complete the relevant sections for the application. The presentation included some tips and tricks on which words to use and which not to use in the personal statement and many more. Prof Metz has reviewed many NRF rating applications in philosophy, ethics, African studies and education in the past in addition to being part of the internal rating committee at UP.

The second part of the session was presented by Ms Lesego Makhafola, Senior Coordinator: Research Commons in the Department of Library Services. She spoke on bibliometric and altmetric information that the Department of Library Services provides to applicants to improve their applications and success rate for the NRF ratings. This includes ensuring that their researcher profiles such as their ORCID and Google Scholar profiles exist, are up to date and are public.

Professor Metz presented on the following major topics: whether researchers should apply, what the NRF wants to see in the application, how the NRF arrives at a rating and how to compose an application.

Some of the reasons he stated for applying for a rating include:

  • Benchmarking purposes.
  • To reflect on the nature or direction of your research.
  • Possibility of receiving funding from the NRF for research.
  • Improved chances of receiving other support from the NRF.
  • It is useful for hiring and promotion opportunities.
  • It is useful for institutional recognition.

In terms of what the NRF wants, the following were noted: mastery of a niche area based on publications in the past 8 years, consistent publishing, coherence among research outputs and the extent to which you can claim ownership of a specific research field.

Speaking of research outputs, the presentation by Lesego Makhafola touched on the bibliometric and altmetric support that the library provides to researchers for their applications for ratings to the NRF. The template that Information Specialists used to present the data to researchers was presented to the attendees as well. The library uses data from Clarivate’s Web of Science, Scopus, Scival and Google Scholar for the bibliometric data. The article-level altmetric data can be found through PlumX analytics, which is available on Scopus, as well as the Altmetric Explorer platform. The template is revised when there are significant changes or additional information that needs to be presented to the researcher.

The following aspects form part of the report:

  • The name and surname of the researcher.
  • Their ORCID.
  • Their number of publications, citations and H-index over the 8 years.
  • The all-time H-index is also included.

SciVal data that is used includes:

  • The field-weighted citation impact.
  • The field-weighted view impact.
  • The percentage of publications by subject area
  • International co-authorship.
  • The percentage of publications in the top 10% most cited.
  • The percentage of publications in the top 10% highest impact journals by CiteScore.

Each of the 5 articles that the researcher selects will have additional analysis including the number of citations from both Journal citation reports (Clarivate) and Scopus, the impact factor from Web of Science and/or CiteScore from Scopus. The same 5 articles will have the usage, captures and social media attention reflected if it is available.

All researchers who want to apply for an NRF rating will need to provide their department’s Information Specialist with a list of their research outputs if they do not want to share their CV, 5 outputs that are in the niche area they want to apply for and they must also have an ORCID and Google Scholar profile. It is also advisable that researchers get in touch with their faculty research office when they intend to apply for an NRF rating to ensure that they meet all the requirements for their intended application and for support as well. The Department of Research and Innovation has a link to the NRF and can assist with questions regarding the application process that researchers may have.

The Information Specialist’s contact information can be found here.

Research Support services information from the Department of Research and Innovation can be found here.

- Author Lesego Makhafola

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