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66th IFLA Council and General
A large part of graduate research is dominated by masters' work (82%) as opposed to doctoral work (18%). Admission to masters in South Africa normally takes place during the sixth year of university education for LIS graduates and fifth year for non-professional degrees. The duration for masters is a minimum of one year full-time or two years part-time. Doctoral degrees take a minimum of two years full-time and four years part-time after masters or equivalent qualification. Masters work can be offered by both course work and mini-dissertation or by thesis/dissertation only. Doctoral work is still offered by thesis only. While high standards are achieved in both cases, the variations found in masters' work have an influence on the depth and breadth of the research report or dissertation and thesis. There has been a decline in masters and doctoral research from 1998. The causes of the decline are worthy of investigation.
4.2 Research Capacity by Gender.
It is of interest to establish the ratio of male to female in regard to graduate research.
TABLE TWO: RESEARCH CAPACITY BY GENDER (N=218)
Females (58.7%) dominate both masters and doctoral research output. Female research output in library and information science is higher than 80% while less than 5% in information science technology oriented subjects (computer science, business management and commerce). More males (over 80%) conduct work in information science technology oriented disciplines such as IT and information systems and tend to obtain most information oriented qualifications/degrees in computer science, business management, information systems, commerce, education and political science.
4.3 Research capacity by population group
Population group in this case refers to race. The nascent democracy in South Africa is yearning for black empowerment through redress. Affirmative action is one of the means employed to achieve empowerment. Analysis of research capacity by population group is therefore essential. Table three provides a summary in this category.
TABLE THREE: RESEARCH CAPACITY BY POPULATION GROUPS (N=218)
|YEAR||BLACK||WHITE & OTHERS|
The major population groups in South Africa are categorized in terms of Black, White, Indian and Coloureds. Whereas I intended to provide a breakdown of research capacity by all four-population groups, their identification by names provided in the publication proved to be difficult. However, it was possible to identify African names and this made it possible for analysis of the records by black as opposed to other population groups. Indians and Coloureds sometimes use western names that confuse identity with the whites unless individuals are personally approached in order to establish the population group to which they belong. This may be regarded by some to be an unethical form of approach. The number of blacks involved in graduate research is insignificant, although numbers are slowly increasing (15.6%). There are several career opportunities in other challenging, prestigious, high-income earning fields that were not easily accessible for blacks in previous times. These include fields such as medicine and engineering. Whether new opportunities in these fields have any influence on career options remains debatable. Attainment of final qualifications in these areas may continue to represent a "long walk" for blacks. It is, however, clear that graduate research largely remains a field occupied by whites. A detailed breakdown by all population groups including non-South Africans may reveal a clearer picture for manpower planners.
4.4. Research Capacity by Language<
The South African constitution permits the usage of eleven official languages including Afrikaans, isiNdebele, siSwati, Setswana, isiZulu, English, Sesotho, Sepedi, Tshivenda, Xitsonga and isXhosa. It is interesting to establish whether the eleven languages are used in graduate research and, if not, which languages dominate graduate research and why. Table four provides a summary in this regard
TABLE FOUR:RESEARCH CAPACITY BY LANGUAGE USE (N=218)
Presentation of dissertations and theses in English (80.28%) is increasing as opposed to Afrikaans (19.72%) which is in decline. There is no evidence that other nine remaining languages are used for graduate dissertations and theses. The demise of the African languages in graduate research sets a social agenda to be tackled by those who are keen on the promotion of African languages and the African renaissance. More South Africans seem to write theses and dissertations in English, perhaps because of its popularity with regard to publication and scientific communication.
4.5 Research Capacity by Affiliation
The breadth and depth of doctoral theses and dissertations are normally superior compared to masters studies. This may be indicative of the level and perhaps the quality of research undertaken. For purposes of identification with regard to research partnership and associates as well as affiliations for graduate studies, information appearing in table five on research capacity by affiliation may be extremely important.
TABLE FIVE: GRADUATE RESEARCH CAPACITY BY INSTITUTION AFFILIATION (n=218)
|NAME OF INSTITUTION||1999||1998||1997||1996||1995||1994||1993||TOTAL|
A large part of graduate research in library and information science originates from the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg 48 (22 %), the Rand Afrikaans University 41 (18.8%) and the University of the Witwatersrand 30 (13.76%) that largely offers information science oriented research in Business Management. Following those three closely are the University of Pretoria 29(13.3%), the University of Cape Town 23 (10.6%) and the University of South Africa 16 (7.4%). Potchefstroom 13 (6. %), Stellenbosch 10 (4.6%) and the remaining universities make an insignificant contribution. In terms of advanced research leading to doctoral work, the leading universities, respectively, are Natal (Pietermaritzburg) (11), RAU (9), Pretoria (8), UNISA (4) and Cape Town (2). Most of the Rand Afrikaans University's doctoral are in information science based qualifications in computer science, commerce and information systems.
It is believed that the success of most of the aforementioned universities is attributable to a strong graduate tradition and to the maintenance of a stable graduate supervisory capacity. Most senior academics are still found in the aforementioned universities, which carry on with the graduate tradition. Universities that specialize in graduate library and information science education such as the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg) and the University of Cape Town are likely to lead in research and graduate work. Between 1993 and 1999 information science based masters and doctoral research in commerce, computer science, geography and environmental studies, political science, education and music were obtained at the following universities: Pretoria (7-D, 4-M), Rand Afrikaans (4-D, 9-M), Witwatersrand (I-D, 28-M), Cape Town (8-M), Natal (I-M), UNISA (M-4), Potchefstroom (M-2), and the Orange Free State (1-M). The University of Witwatersrand (it does not offer library and information science degrees) has a strong base for information oriented education in business management while the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg) leads in both graduate masters and doctoral output in Library and Information Science.
4.6. Research capacity by subject orientation and institutional affiliation. It is of particular interest to establish research subject orientation as a whole as well as by institutional affiliation in South Africa in order to determine the gap for manpower development as well as popular research topics for research partnership and graduate enrolment. Table six provides an indexed list of the research subjects and affiliations.
Table 6: Research capacity by subject orientation
|Information Technology||47||WITS,UCT, RAU,PUC, UP, UNISA, UNP|
|Management/information management||42||UP, UNP, PUC, UZ, RAU, UNISA, PUC, UCT, UOFS,STEL, UWC|
|Information systems (includes, EIS, GIS, etc)||30||WITS,RAU,UCT,UNISA,UP,UN|
|User studies/information needs assessment||26||UCT, PUC, UNISA, UNP, UOFS, RAU, VISTA, UZ, STELL|
|Information dissemination/services||24||UNISA,RAU,UNP,UOFS, VISTA,UCT,PUC|
|LIS -education and training||19||RAU,UNP,UNISA,PUC,UP|
|Library and Information theory||13||UNP,UCT,STELL,UP,RAU|
|Information collection development/management||12||RAU,STELL,UNP,UNISA,UCT|
|Information security management||7||UNISA,UZ,RAU|
|Community information services||7||UNISA,UNP,UZ,UP|
|Marketing information system/publicity & promotion of information services||5||UNP,RAU|
|Legal /ethical issues||4||UNP,UP,PUC,RAU|
|Databases/CD -ROM/ bibliographical||3||UP|
|Searching and retrieval||3||UOFS, RAU|
|Information mapping/information audit||2||RAU|
|Health information systems and services||2||UP|
|Legal information systems/services||1||UP|
The ranked list of subject orientation for graduate research shows fairly diversified distribution that may be divided into three zones with an interval of 20. Zone one constitutes those subjects that appear between 40 to 60 times. The highest distribution is concentrated in information technology and management. The second zone ranges from 20 to 40 and includes information systems, user studies and information needs assessment and information dissemination. Information Technology and Information Systems largely emanate from non-library and information science degree/qualification programmes and departments such as computer science, commerce and business management. However, there is evidence that collaborative research between LIS departments and the aforementioned programs are ongoing. Zone three ranges from 1-20 as ranked on table six. Most of the 32 subjects ranked in this zone are offered for LIS degrees. Information security management, legal/ethical issues, databases; information mapping/audit and economic information are shared between degree qualifications.
Table 7: GRADUATE RESEARCH CAPACITY INDICATORS COMPARED (MASTERS AND DOCTORAL THESES AND DISSERTATION 1993-2000) N=218
|UNIVERSITY/INSTITUTIONAL AFFILIATION (by number of masters and doctoral research)|
Information reflected in this ongoing study should, in my view, provide data for determining graduate research capacity in South Africa; for knowledge and comparison of graduate research potential; selection of graduate institutions by those aspiring for masters and doctoral research; for student exchange; for research partnership and for determination and developments in graduate research. The rapidly growing research capacity in the country offers promising opportunities for research and professional linkages as well as manpower training at graduate levels for the people of Africa. South African LIS institutions have the potential to play a leading role with regard to LIS research in Africa.
The work done by SABINET with regard to the establishment of a database on graduate research in South Africa is commendable. A current data base on ongoing (registered) and completed LIS research for non-degree purposes is essential to supplement the SABINET. I believe that the forthcoming first biannual DISSA conference to be held in Pretoria during October will set a strong agenda in this regard.
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