How to Apply for a SARChI Research Chair

Programme application and selection processes

The application process starts with a call for application from the NRF and it comprises of two phases:

 

Phase 1: Selection of a suitable university to host the SARChI Chair

This phase begins with the submission of proposals (maximum of 20 A4 pages, Arial font, 11 point and 1.5 spacing) by universities during the call period. As awards of SARChI Chairs are to be made to the host university; Research Chairs must be applied for by the university and not the nominated candidate for the Chair. The submission must be made by the Deputy Vice Chancellor responsible for research at the university.

Assessment of the Phase 1 proposal will be undertaken by a panel that will make recommendations for approval by the NRF and DST principals.  This assessment will not focus on scientific merit, but rather on the alignment of the proposed Chair with the strengths, capabilities and competencies of the host institution. The match between proposed Chair and Institution will be assessed within the contexts of the institution’s strategic environment and the provincial and national environments.

 

Selection criteria for host universities

The selection of successful university proposals during Phase 1 will be based on the readiness and suitability of the university to host the proposed Research Chair and the strategic alignment of the proposed Chair. The proposal must therefore address the following:

  • The alignment of the proposed Research Chair with the university’s research strategy and PQM;
  • The university’s research strength and competencies in the area of the proposed Research Chair;
  • Alignment of the proposed Research Chair’s focus with that of existing research activities or capacity;
  • University commitment for creating an enabling environment with regard to:
    • Office and/or laboratory space.
    • Infrastructure (equipment, IT facilities, etc.);
    • Academic support (information, resource facilities and related research groups);
    • Management and leadership; and
    • Financial support (direct and indirect);
  • The reporting lines and location of the Research Chair within the university structure

All Research Chair applications will also be evaluated against National research priorities as articulated in general and specific governmental or agency policy documents including the National Research and Development Strategy.

NB! It is not necessary to have a candidate for the Chair in mind during this stage of the selection process.

 

Phase 2: Selection and recuitment of a suitable candidate.

Phase 2 follows the award of the SARChI Chair(s) to the host universities and requires the submission of a full proposal (maximum of 50 A4 pages, Arial font, 11 point and 1.5 line spacing) and the Curriculum Vitae of the nominated candidate. The full proposal  shall be authored by the nominated candidate in consultation with the university Deputy Vice Chancellor responsible for research. It will give details on (i) the research focus of the Research Chair; (ii) a proposed plan on how the Research Chair will fulfill SARChI objectives, including the strategic considerations mentioned in the university proposal; (iii) how it will deliver on the university research strategy; and (iv) specific objectives, outputs and outcomes for the five-year period.

The full-proposal will also need to give specific details of:

  • The proposed teaching to research time ratio;
  • The research objectives for the five year period;
  • Expected knowledge outputs in the first five year period;
  • Expected human capital outputs in the first five year period;
  • The proposed budget;
  • Existing and planned collaborations in the first five year period; and
  • Expected development trajectory of the incumbent.

Assessment of proposals will be undertaken through a postal peer review by subject experts who will make recommendations. The recommendations will then be considered by a panel that will then make funding recommendations for approval by the NRF.

 

Selection criteria for candidates for Chair position

Since the NRF will be funding a candidate in a Research Chair and not merely a Chair, the candidate’s credentials are very important to the selection process. The successful institutions will be responsible for nominating and recruiting Research Chair candidates. Research Chairs are allocated in Tier levels based on the profile and research standing of the incumbent.

Tier 1 Research Chairs should:

  • Have a doctoral degree or equivalent qualification;
  • Be appointed at the level of a full Professor benchmarked nationally;
  • Be an outstanding and innovative researcher whose accomplishments have made a major impact in their field;
  • Be recognised internationally as an undisputed leader in their field and/or have received substantial international recognition for their research contributions;
  • Have a superior record in attracting and supervising post graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, taking into account the practices of the field; and
  • Reside full time in South Africa for the duration of the Research Chair award. Candidates from abroad, including African scholars and South Africans in the diaspora, that are willing to spend at least spend 50% of their time within South Africa are eligible for consideration.

Tier 2 Research Chairs should:

  • Have a doctoral degree or equivalent qualification;
  • Be appointed at the level of an Associate Professor or full Professor benchmarked nationally;
  • Be an established researcher, generally under the age of 40 (forty) years, with a strong research, innovation and human capital development output trajectory;
  • Have the potential to achieve substantial international recognition for their research contributions in the next five to ten years;
  • Have demonstrated the ability to attract and successfully supervise postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows; and
  • Reside full-time in South Africa for the duration of the Research Chair award. Candidates from abroad, including African scholars and South Africans in the diaspora, who are generally under the age of 40 (forty) years, are eligible for consideration.

The candidates may be an incumbent or a new recruit to the successful HEI. Where Research Chairs are taken up by existing faculty, the HEI must replace them with suitably qualified candidates in the faculty.