Overview of the three-year review process

Developmental groupings may be considered for three-year accreditation if they do not yet meet all accreditation criteria relevant to the group’s definition, but aspire to meet a clearly articulated strategic goal. Such groupings are reviewed in the final six months of the first three years. This review is internal and would focus on the productivity of the group as measured against the criteria for the level of grouping, as well as against its proposed strategic goal. If supported, the research grouping would convert to the five-year accreditation cycle. Alternatively, its accreditation will be withdrawn.

Overview of the five-year review process

Each grouping is reviewed once in the final year of its accreditation cycle, except where such groupings are subjected to credible external review in that year, as in the case of Medical Research Council groupings hosted at UCT.

In the URC review process (administered by the Research Office) research groupings identified for review submit self-review portfolios (see Appendix 1 for guidelines on preparing self-review portfolios) according to an agreed timeline, usually to enable distribution of the portfolios to the review panel at least two weeks before the scheduled review date.

The review panel consists of the DVC in his / her capacity as Chair of the URC; two external reviewers (see Appendix 2 for guidelines for the reviewers on preparing a review report) who are recognised experts in the field and are selected by the Chair from five nominees provided by the relevant faculty; two internal reviewers nominated by the host dean, from fields relevant to the research agenda under review; the executive director of research; the relevant dean and the relevant head of department. Continuity is built into the panel membership through the Chair (the URC Chair or the Executive Director of Research) and the consistent participation of up to three URC members. This core membership also ensures consistency across the reviews. Prior relations between members of the panel and the grouping must be fully declared and taken into account. The Research Office provides administrative support, supplying the review panel with the necessary documentation and servicing officer. The review typically lasts half a day, depending on the size and scope of the unit to be reviewed. The review may also include a site visit, if applicable.

A joint review report (see Appendix 3 for guidelines for the reviewers on preparing a review report) is produced by the two external panellists within four weeks of the review. A response is prepared (preferably jointly) by the grouping director and the dean, which is tabled together with the review report at the URC’s Committee on Research Reviews (CRR) meeting. Both the dean and director are invited to attend the CRR meeting to have an opportunity to clarify and elaborate on the Faculty’s position in relation to the tabled comments. Consensus or a decision on the way forward is reached at this meeting.

The URC may:

  • unconditionally endorse the research grouping’s accreditation for the next cycle; or
  • require an improvement plan according to agreed-upon time-lines; or
  • request a change in nomenclature if the grouping classification is deemed to be inappropriate as a result of the review findings; or
  • withdraw accreditation if the outcome of the review is negative.

Both self-review portfolios and review reports are treated as confidential, although these are made available for institutional audits. A consolidated summary of the year’s review outcomes is included in the annual Report on Research to Senate and Council.

Where applicable, the schedule of reviews will be clustered according to research fields in order to optimize – as much as possible – the contribution of any particular external reviewer that could serve on more than one panel in the course of his / her visit.

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