‘The NRF rating offers confirmation of your standing as a researcher in SA’ – UP accounting prof on C1 rating

Posted on May 31, 2024

Being in the accounting space and teaching the next generation of professional accountants is what Professor Stephen Coetzee of the Department of Accounting at the University of Pretoria (UP) is passionate about. He was recently rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF) as a C1 researcher.

“Finding out that I was rated C1 was a relief,” he says. “This recent rating was a re-rating, and I was relieved to retain it. The rating process is rigorous, and knowing that my peers and the NRF committee acknowledge my contributions to the field of accounting education is affirming.”

The NRF’s C category recognises established researchers who have a sustained record of productivity in their field. According to the NRF, the rating of individuals is based primarily on the quality and impact of their research outputs over the past eight years, taking into account the evaluation made by local and international peers. It identifies researchers who count among the leaders in their fields of expertise and gives recognition to those who constantly produce high-quality research outputs.

Prof Coetzee’s research seeks to explore key unanswered questions in accounting education.

“In particular, my research interests include assessment and the use of technology in education,” he explains. “Consequently, I have published in some of the leading journals in these areas, including Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education and the British Journal of Educational Technology. I have also published in the top three accounting education journals: Issues in Accounting Education, Accounting Education and the Journal of Accounting Education.”

Prof Coetzee explains that to be rated by the NRF, a researcher must submit a comprehensive portfolio of their work, including publications, research contributions and evidence of their impact on the field. This portfolio is reviewed by a panel of experts who assess the quality and significance of the researcher’s contributions.

He adds that the C1 rating enhances his CV by providing a recognisable mark of research excellence.

“It can open doors to further research opportunities, collaborations and funding. It also strengthens my credibility and standing within the academic community, both locally and internationally.”

Prof Coetzee says that over the past few years, he has shifted his focus to assisting other colleagues in the same field in supervising their PhDs, which has not necessarily contributed to furthering his own research profile. Still, he points out, the NRF recognition itself can lead to increased funding opportunities and support for future research projects.

“The rating offers external acknowledgment and confirmation of your standing as a researcher in South Africa,” he says. “However, the ratings of staff are also important for the University as they reflect the institution’s research strength, and contribute to its reputation and rankings. The Department of Accounting at UP is for example ranked as the leading accounting department in Africa according to recent university rankings.”

In the next coming years, Prof Coetzee plans to continue his research in accounting education, with particular focus on the integration of technology in teaching and assessment.

“I aim to continue collaborating with colleagues to explore innovative approaches in education. Additionally, I hope my research can contribute to policy discussions and development within the field of accounting education.”

Prof Coetzee advises other researchers to work hard in their respective fields and make a difference in society.

“In the words of my late colleague and dear friend Lizette Kotze, ‘Chase opportunities, not dreams, because that will take you further than you ever dreamed possible.’

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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